Tag Archives: lgbtq+

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 12.23.34 PMThis book was delightful! I picked up this book with the intention of leveraging it into some conversations with my dear 12 year old cousin. Not only did it successfully allow us to have some really great conversations together (we talked at length about how it’s unfair that straight people don’t have to come out as straight, a topic mentioned throughout the book), it was a fantastic and fun book to read!

Simon, the main character, is comfortable with and certain of his sexuality (a welcome alternanarrative to a lot of YA books; questioning is definitely important to represent, but I liked getting the chance to read something different), but doesn’t feel compelled to share his romantic preference with others. That is, until he’s outed at school. After writing a series of “anonymous” emails to another high schooler who is also attracted to their same sex, his identity is leaked after someone stumbles upon his emails via an unlocked public computer disaster. Simon navigates being thrust into being out, whilst dealing with other typical teenage problems. 

While the main story is a great read, the backdrop is also fantastic. Simon and his friends quirkily quip amongst each other, leading to many laughs from me. His friends also spend ample time in a Waffle House, one of my favorite hangs while a high schooler, so I found those bits particularly enjoyable.

If you’re looking for a quick, enjoyable read full of interesting and fun characters, this book is for you! It’s also a great way touchstone to use when talking to young people about certain experiences and I thoroughly recommend it for those purposes too! I still haven’t seen the movie that is based upon the book (and has received many glowing reviews), but it’s on my to do list!

Publication Date: 7 April 2015 by Penguin. Format: Paperback.

Author: Becky Albertalli web/@twitter/@instagram/@facebook

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Take Me with You by Andrea Gibson

takemewithyouBefore receiving an ARC of this book from Penguin‘s First to Read program, I was unfamiliar with poet and activist Andrea Gibson. This was the perfect little collection of poems to read while I was visiting family (and their related tensions) over the holiday season.

The collection is broken into three main sections (1: On Love, 2: On the World; and 3: On Becoming) and I found that most of the poems that resonated with me were in the second section (On the World), which is likely partially influenced by the fact that I spent the holidays in a house helmed by a conservative patriarch.

A lot of the poems in the first section (On Love) will probably be enjoyed by those that adore the Instagram poems about love — some were a little too gooey for me personally, but will probably also be the ones that are recreated with pretty lettering on Tumblr and Instagram. The third section (On Becoming) discusses coming out experiences in different ways (coming out of certain religious ideologies, not strongly identifying with the strict confines of gender, and who Gibson becomes romantically entangled with) and I can imagine they will be beautiful, reassuring messages to read when navigating similar experiences.

Some of the poems struck me more as mantras and calls to action than poems, but because this collection is written by an activist, they didn’t feel too out of place when included here.

The poems are all untitled so it’s hard for me list which poems I enjoyed the most, but I’ve included my two favorites below.

“They want you thinking you’re
bad at being a girl instead of
thinking you’re good at being
yourself. They want you to buy
your blush from a store instead
of letting it bloom from your 
butterflies. They’re telling you
to blend in, like you’ve never
seen how a blender works. like
they think you’ve
never seen the mess
from the blade.” (p. 96)

“Promise that who we
weep and fight and
tear down the sun
for will not only
be our own faces in 
the mirror.” (p. 87)

Disclaimer: I was provided with a digital copy of this book for free from Penguin via First to Read. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and have not been influenced by Penguin or First to Read.

Publication Date: 23 January 2018 by Plume Books. Format: E-book ARC.

Poet: Andrea Gibson web/@twitter/@instagram/tumblr

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 1.43.58 PMThis book had me feeling some type of way: I had a nightmare the first night that I started reading the book AND it was the first book to make me cry in quite some time, so maybe my liquid emotions and anxiety dreams can speak for my feelings about the book? They’ll have to do.

We Are Okay, a novel that weaves a tangle of grief/becoming an orphan, desperately wishing for familial closeness that is lacking and desiring the loving families of your closest friends, was riveting in its details of the narrator, Marin, coming to terms with her new life and losses. While the story was beautifully constructed, I marveled at how well LaCour described Marin’s basic daily life, giving space to the minute actions and emotions one does as they navigate new life circumstances. The book hit close to home for me and rattled a lot of closed doors that live inside my body. Chapters 26 and 27 wrecked me in the best way. We Are Okay was good. Would the novel be good to someone who didn’t strongly identify with its contents? I don’t know. Would it hurt as much to read for someone who didn’t strongly identify? Hopefully not.

We Are Okay was gentle and brutal and beautiful simultaneously. I hope you give it a shot.

“I wonder if there’s a secret current that connects people who have lost something. Not in the way that everyone loses something, but in the way that undoes your life, undoes your self, so that when you look at your face it isn’t yours anymore.” (p. 68)
“The most innocent things can call back the most terrible.” (p. 65)