One Man Guy

Posted by Kevin on August 29, 2014

one man guyBarakiva, Michael. One Man Guy. Farrar. 2014. $17.99. 255p. HC. 9780374356453.

Having survived his freshman year of high school, Alek Khederian looks forward to summer until his parents tell him he will be attending summer school. They insist he retake some classes because his grades weren’t good enough for the honors track, but Alek thinks his parents’ Armenian ideals of perfect academics are ridiculous. Even more upsetting, he won’t be able to attend a trip to Niagara Falls with his family and church.

Resigned to his fate, Alek plans to keep his head down at summer school and get his work done, comforted by his friendship with spunky and outgoing Becky who works at the Dairy Queen. His life changes when he is drawn to skater-boy Ethan, in their algebra class. They start spending time together as Ethan shows Alek around New York City and teaches Alek to be more carefree and confident. Ethan wants to be more than just friends, but Alek had never considered having a boyfriend.

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Categories: Fiction,Youth

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community

Posted by Kevin on August 28, 2014

Trans bodiesTrans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community. Ed. by Laura Erickson-Schroth. Oxford University Press. 2014. $39.95. 647p. PB. 978-0-19-932535-1.

Edited by psychiatrist and Columbia University Medical Center fellow Laura Erickson-Schroth, this resource guide offers an immense, wide-reaching, and extremely well-done resource guide. Each of the six parts, with three to six chapters per part, is authored by experts in the different fields, with a multitude of inserts with other people sharing their thoughts, ideas, theories, and stories. The first section, “Who We Are,” focuses on the multiplicity of identities that are intersectional with trans identities. Section Two, “Living As Ourselves,” engages with day-to-day societal issues related to being trans. The third part, “Health and Wellness,” covers both the nuts and bolts of physical transition as well as other health issues. While the fourth section, “Our Relationships and Families” relates to intimacy and parenting, “Life Stages,” Section Five, addresses issues common to trans children, young adults, and elders. The final part, “Claiming Our Power,” concludes the work with an overview of trans history, politics, and art.

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Categories: Adult,Nonfiction

Everything Leads to You

Posted by Kevin on August 27, 2014

Everything Leads to YouLaCour, Nina. Everything Leads to You. Dutton Juvenile, 2014. $17.99. 320p. HC. 9780525425885.

Freshly graduated from high-school, budding film set designer Emi takes up her brother’s offer to move into his L.A. apartment with her best friend, Charlotte. His only rule is that they must do something epic in the place. Finding an old letter written by a recently deceased movie star, Emi and Charlotte become swept up in the mystery of his life. The letter leads them to Ava, who lives in a shelter for teens. Emi is drawn to this talented and beautiful girl who could help Emi get over her ex-girlfriend and first true love. When the girls are hired to work on the same indie film during the summer, they spend more time together.

Even though the setting is Los Angeles and the story is centered on filmmaking, the characters aren’t typical glittery, elegant, rich L.A. fare. Emi’s parents are college professors, and she has to work to prove her worth for the job she wants. Ava and her friend, Jamal, have jobs at the Home Depot to survive. Early in the novel, Emi explains the “collapse of the fantasy”: people who work on movies see how everything works and that the actors aren’t the characters they portray. This idea becomes the driving theme behind the whole story: Ava helps Emi discover that life and relationships are not as glamorous and mysterious as in the movies.

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Categories: Fiction,Youth

LGBT Youth Issues Today

Posted by Kevin on August 26, 2014

LGBT Youth Issues TodayNewton, David E. LGBT Youth Issues Today: A Reference Handbook. [Contemporary World Issues Series]. ABC-Clio. 2014. $55. 318p. HC. 978-1-61069-315-8.

Literature on LGBT youth prior to the 21st century in both monograph and article form was extremely sparse and often took the form of studies of homosexual teens within a counseling or education context, the latter first appearing in the middle and later 1990s. Even such major reference works in LGBT studies as the LGBT Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History in America (Scribner’s 2004) and LGBTQ America Today (Greenwood, 2009) mention youth as a part of the community but fail to examine their needs and condition in substantial detail.

Part of the Contemporary World Issues series produced by ABC-CLIO, this new volume illustrates the growing maturation of LGBT community attitudes toward youth of all gender identifications, the recognition of problems and challenges specific to them, and the acceptance of responsibility for them as the future. The author notes in the preface that “ the purpose of this book is to review what is known about the role of LGBT youth in history and the way societal attitudes have shifted over the past century on this issue“ (p.xvii ).

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Moon at Nine

Posted by Kevin on August 25, 2014

Moon at NineEllis, Deborah. Moon at Nine. Pajama Press, 2014. $19.95. 223p. HC. 9781927485576.

Teenager Farrin distances herself from her classmates at her school in Tehran, Iran, per her mother’s command. It is 1988, and her mother believes their wealthy family is of a higher social standing than the other girls at the school. Farrin’s world changes, however, when smart, kind, spirited Sadira enrolls in Farrin’s school. They become fast friends and slowly open up to each other, finding themselves developing a deeper relationship. Although Farrin is familiar with a world where everyone has secrets, she knows that her and Sadira’s love for each other may be the most dangerous secret of all.

Although Moon starts slowly, readers won’t be able to put it down after the halfway mark: a major conflict moves the narrative along at a breakneck pace until the end. Conflict drives the story throughout and tackles personal problems, such as dealing with mean girls at school and arguing with parents, to much larger issues such as torture, imprisonment, and execution. This is Farrin’s story, and she is a dynamic character, easy to become invested in. Love-interest Sadira is likable, although a little too perfect. Most secondary characters are fairly one-dimensional and portrayed as either good or bad.

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Categories: Fiction,Youth

Queerly Beloved: A Love Story across Genders

Posted by Kevin on August 18, 2014

queerly belovedAnderson-Minshall, Diane and Jacob Anderson-Minshall. Queerly Beloved: A Love Story Across Genders. Bold Strokes Books. 2014. $16.95. 233p. PB. 978-1-62639-062-1.

Diane and Jacob (nee Suzy) Anderson-Minshall were a lesbian couple for fifteen years before Jacob confessed that he is, in fact, a transgender man. Their relationship survived through Jacob’s transition, and Queerly Beloved relates the story of their life together before, during, and after Jacob’s transition. In chapters alternately narrated by Diane and Jacob, the overarching theme of love for each other and for the queer community shines through this memoir.

There are other autobiographies written by transmen and transwomen as well as memoirs written by their partners, but this book is the first memoir co-written by a transman and his lesbian-identified partner. Because the couple alternates the narration, many stories overlap, and frequently Diane and Jacob finish each other’s sentences. It is refreshing have both perspectives about a relationship in transition. The reader learns not only what it was like for Jacob to transition but also how his transition impacted Diane’s career. Still identifying as lesbian, she struggled with her position as editor of a magazine marketed to lesbians after Jacob transitioned and they could publicly “pass” as a straight couple. Both Diane and Jacob also had to wrestle with the changed perception of their relationship within their own queer community.

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Categories: Adult,Nonfiction

True Stories Too: People and Places from My Past

Posted by Kevin on August 15, 2014

True StoriesPicano, Felice. True Stories Too: People and Places from My Past. Chelsea Station Editions. 2014. $20. 270p. PB. 978-1-937627-15-7.

A prolific gay writer, Picano is the author of over 30 books of poetry, fiction, memoirs, nonfiction, and plays. This sequel to his well-received collection of short memoirs, True Stories: Stories from My Past, is just as great, if not better, than the earlier book.

The bookends for this volume are familial tales. At the beginning, “Brother Bob: Prologue” deals with the first son growing up in a dysfunctional family with a dictatorial father. Refusing to take over the family business, Bob escapes into military service while the third child, Felice, excels and becomes estranged from his family at age 16 when he goes to Queens College and lives in an apartment on the lower East Side of New York City. In “Vincenzo: Return of a Death: Epilogue,” the adult Picano researches the murder of his uncle in 1923 when Vincenzo was nine years old.

The narratives in between are organized by place and time: New York in the ‘60s and ‘70s, a book tour to Japan, Picano’s extended time in Berlin, and the return to his favorite building in New York City, an historic Federalist in the West Village where he lived for 17 years. The past two decades in Los Angeles cover Picano’s life there after his friends and acquaintances in New York City died of AIDS.

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Wandering Son, Volume 6

Posted by Kevin on August 14, 2014

Wandering SonTakako, Shimura. Wandering Son, Vol. 6. Fantagraphics. 2013. $24.99. 215p. 978-1-60699-707-9.

This graphic novel continues the story of two middle-school students, Nitori Shuichi and Takatsuki Yoshino, who question their gender identities. The boy Nitori-kun wants to be a girl while Takatsuki-san is a girl who longs to be a boy. In this volume, the class brings Nitori-kun and Chiba Saori’s rendition of Romeo and Juliet to the stage which includes a gender twist: Romeo and Juliet wish to trade both names and genders with one another.

Although Nitori-kun and Chiba-san worked on the script together, they have two different thoughts when it comes to casting: Chiba-san wants to play Romeo and have Nitori-kun play Juliet while Nitori-kun wants Takatsuki-san to play Romeo to his Juliet. However, neither Chiba-san nor Nitori-kun’s casting schemes come to fruition causing friction among the characters.

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Meeting Chance

Posted by Kevin on August 12, 2014

Meeting ChanceLavoie, Jennifer. Meeting Chance. Bold Strokes. 2013. $11.95. 184p. 978-1-60282-952-7.

Sixteen-year-old Aaron Cassidy has just become a volunteer at Happy Endings Animal Foundation. This may not seem like a big deal, but to Aaron it is: seven years earlier, a dog attack left Aaron’s face and emotions scarred. Aaron hopes this volunteer opportunity will overcome his fear of dogs. While Aaron is working on this reconciliation, he also navigates a number of relationships from meeting and accepting his father’s new girlfriend, supporting a fellow member of the GSA when the member’s locker is vandalized, and making a few new friends at the shelter including a boy named Finn. The strongest relationship developed in the novel is Aaron’s friendship with a pit bull named Chance who was also physically injured, and left scarred by other dogs.

What is refreshing about this book is that it is not a coming out story. Aaron is out to his family and friends before the novel begins, and he is comfortable with himself and his sexuality. He has many support systems in place from his caring parents and his school’s GSA. The novel does deal with some potential aftermath to the coming out process. Aaron’s two closest friends from childhood, Caleb and Tyler, begin to put distance between themselves and Aaron. The boys work on their friendship throughout the story, however, and this is a mere subplot while the focus remains on Aaron and his work at the shelter.

There is a lot going on in this book, and overall Lavoie does a good job of weaving it together and keeping a reader’s interest. The writing can be rudimentary and repetitive with a great deal of “telling” and not “showing.” Meeting Chance would work for both middle school and early high school students, but, it is not a must-own. If your collection is lacking LGBTQ books for the middle school aged, this is a potential purchase.

Reviewer: Shelley Mastalerz
Teen Services Librarian, Burien Library

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Categories: Fiction,Youth

Tales of the Pack: Book 1 and 2

Posted by Kevin on August 11, 2014

Lunatic FringeMoon. Allison. Lunatic Fringe (Tales of the Pack: Book 1). Lunatic Ink. 2011. $12.79. 300p. PB. 978-0983830917.

Moon, Allison. Hungry Ghost (Tales of the Pack: Book 2).   Lunatic Ink. 2013. $11.99. 298p. PB. 978-0983830931.

Countless possibilities and interpretations of the moon’s significance, carnal nature, pack, and self-defense abound when one builds a series around lesbian werewolves. All of these collide around Allison Moon’s Tales of the Pack central character Lexie Clarion, a freshman at a small, liberal arts college in rural Oregon, who is quickly embraced by a household of women led by the intimidating, theory-spouting Blythe. In Moon’s first installment Lunatic Fringe, the dyke drama of the group only gets exacerbated when Blythe meets her girlfriend, the seductively butch carpenter Archer.

The plot muddies somewhat as her pack of friends start hunting a pack of violent wolves that are preying on the group, and the distinctions between halfbloods, fullbloods, and purebloods furthers confuses the story. But the novel’s intertwining of history, folklore, and spirituality with the modern day is intriguing. The storyline continues in the sequel Hungry Ghost, with a change in the group dynamic along with Lexie’s incremental acceptance of her own lupine nature.

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