Category: LGBT


Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
ISBN-13: 978-0375832994
Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2003
192 p.

GENRE: LGBT Fiction, Romance

TEASER: Paul is completely crazy about the new boy in school, Noah. But love is never easy when you have a crazy set of friends and an ex-boyfriend who wants to reconnect.

SUMMARY: This story is about Paul, a high school sophomore who has been out since kindergarten, is class president, and completely crazy about the new boy, Noah. The story also focuses on Paul’s friends. There’s Infinite Darlene, who is the star quarterback and the homecoming queen. There’s Jonie who is Paul’s best friend whose new boyfriend causes tension within their friends group. Tony is Paul’s friend whose parents won’t let him leave the house unless he tells them he’s going to Bible study or dating a girl. Then there’s Kyle, Paul’s ex-boyfriend, who hated Paul but now is not so sure.

CRITIQUE: The book is written in first person perspective through the main character Paul. The characters are well-written, unique, and memorable. Most importantly to note is that Boy Meets Boy is a love story not a coming out story. It focuses on the relationship between Paul and Noah. The conflicts they face are the same conflicts that are depicted in novels with heterosexual couples.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s written in an alternate reality world that is almost without hate or prejudice. One of my favorite quotes from this book is from Paul when he is discussing his past with his ex Kyle and how he feels Kyle hates him. He says, “It’s a very strange feeling. I’m not used to being hated.” This was such a beautiful thing to read. And it’s true. The main character has been out since kindergarten and experiences very little bullying. While it’s noted that there are homophobic people out there, it is never really addressed as an important issue at school. The only signs of prejudice we see are from Tony’s religious parents. Levithan often gives attention to the conflict between religion and sexuality in his novels. His portrayal of Tony’s parents is honest and thoughtful. They are afraid for their son and they don’t know how to deal with it. Tony eventually gains enough courage to face his parents and tell them that they will have to learn how to deal with his sexuality.

This novel also deals with growing up and staying true to oneself. Paul must deal with the fact that him and his best friend Joni are growing apart due to her new boyfriend. Kyle and Toni also mature in the story as well. Kyle is slowly trying to accept the fact that he is attracted to guys and that it’s not such a bad thing. Toni must gain the courage to stand up to his parents and hope that they learn to accept him. When Paul tells Tonie to move in with him and his family, Toni refuses because he says that won’t change anything. It might not be easy living with his family right now, but leaving them will only convince them that he is living in sin and needs saving. He choses to stay and endure their ridicule if it will help make them eventually see that there is nothing wrong with him.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Levithan is a young adult author and editor. He says he loves editing just as much, if not more than writing. He has written numerous novels featuring strong gay male characters. He is also the co-author with Rachel Cohn of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which was adapted into a film in 2008.

He is also the founding editor for PUSH, an imprint of Scholastic Press that focuses on edgier materials for young adults.Boy Meets Boy is Levithan’s first novel. He is also the author of The Realm of Possibility, Are We There Yet?, Wide Awake, and Marly’s Ghost.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE http://www.davidlevithan.com/

READING LEVEL: 15+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some people may object to the portrayal of a homosexual relationship and transsexuality.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.
Defense:

<CURRICULUM TIES: LGBT Studies

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Levithan has created a world that is much more accepting of gay relationships except when it comes to religion. What do you think he's trying to say about the struggle between homosexuality and religion?

WHY INCLUDED: I wanted to include this book not only because it has a gay couple but that it is more about the love story than the coming out story.

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Down to the Bone by Myra Lazara Dole
ISBN-13: 978-0060843106
HarperTeen, New York, 2008
384 p.

GENRE: LGBT Fiction

TEASER: When Lara gets kicked out of her Catholic school and gets kicked out of her home for loving a girl, she tries to deny her sexuality. But because Lara is free spirited and has wonderful, supportive friends, she just might find happiness and love.

SUMMARY: When Lara gets kicked out of her Catholic school because she’s dating a girl, the last thing she needs is for her strict Cuban mother to kick her out of her home unless she reveals who her girlfriend is. To make matters worse, Lara’s girlfriend is shipped off to Cuba and forced to marry a man. Fortunately, Lara has a great best friend who gives her a place to stay. Through love, friendship, and heartbreak Lara learns who her true family is and how to be herself.

CRITIQUE: The book is told in a first-person point of view through Lara. The language is very casual. Because this book is set in Miami’s Cuban community, there is a lot of broken English used in the novel. This adds to the authenticity of the setting. There is a translation section at the back of the book. I understood most of the spanish; however, if you do not know any Spanish, it might get a bit confusing. This might have been prevented by putting the translation section at the front. This is a problem I have seen with a few books I have read, both adult and young adult. This is a minor complaint, if that, and does not affect the overall quality of the book.

I really enjoyed the books positive spirit. The author gives a very positive light to this story. Even when Lara is kicked out of her home and forbidden from seeing her brother, the mood and language of the book still feel cheerful and upbeat. I also appreciated seeing an LGBT character who has so much love and support. Her mother is of course not supportive and refuses to understand her daughter. However, I was very moved by Soli and Viva’s characters. They opened up their hearts and their home to her without question. You see very early on that they are her true family.

You certainly see development from Lara’s character. Lara is in denial that she is a lesbian in the beginning. She can admit that she is in love with another girl but she doesn’t think that makes her gay. Once she realizes that she is only attracted to girls, she still tries to deny that she is a lesbian for fear that it will mean she never gets to see her little brother again. She dates a guy in order to convince her mother that she is not a lesbian. The pressure to be someone she is not becomes too much, and she must tell her mother that she will have to learn to accept her as she is.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Myra Lazara Dole is a Cuban American author who was born in Havana and grew up in Miami. Like her character Lara, she was kicked out of her school when she was thirteen for a confiscated note written by her girlfriend.

Aside from being an author, she has been a hairdresser, a dancer, a landscape designer, and library assistant. She has also been a Lambda Literary judge. Down to the Bone has made the ALA Best Books for YA 2009. It is also on Booklist’s Top Ten Novels, ALA Rainbow List, and CCBC Top Choices.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: http://mayraldole.wordpress.com/

READING LEVEL: 15+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some might object to the portrayal of a homosexual relationship or transsexuality.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.

CURRICULUM TIES: LGBT Studies

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Parts of this novel were adapted from Dole’s real life. Do you think that made the writing more honest and touching?

WHY INCLUDED: I found this book while looking for LGBT novels with non-Caucasian characters. Dole’s novels is one of the few LGBT books with Latin-American characters.

Luna by Julie Anne Peters
ISBN-13: 978-0316011273
Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2004
256 p.

GENRE: LGBT Fiction, Realistic Fiction

TEASER: Regan has been keeping the secret that her brother is really her sister her whole life, but now everything is going to change.

SUMMARY: Regan O’Neill has always known that her brother Liam was different. In fact, she is the only one who knows his deepest secret; Liam is really Luna, a transgender girl. As Luna’s desires to transition increase, both Regan and Luna’s love and courage will be put to the test.

CRITIQUE: Regan’s voice throughout this novel is exquisitely honest. She deals with her fears about Luna’s transition from the surgery and people’s reception of Luna. There are even times when Regan lashes out at Luna because of the burden of their shared secret. The burden of their secret is becoming too much for her to take. She is also faced with the problem of juggling a potential romantic relationship and constantly being their or her sibling. She is trying to grow up and experience high school but feels like she can’t do that and keep making sure that Luna is in a healthy state of mind.

There is also the added obstacle of their parents. One of the main themes in the novel is gender roles. This debate is seen through their parents. Their mother used to be the dotting mother and housewife but now ignores her family for her new job. She even ignores the entire scene when Luna comes out to her father and is threatened to be disowned. She does not stick up for her children and this outrages Regan. Regan misses her mother and wishes she could be supportive of her family and deal with her job. Their father is set in the traditional gender roles. He pressures Liam constantly to play sports and expects Regan to do the housework and cook dinners when their mother does not. This family is holding onto a broken facade throughout the majority of the novel. It slowly crumbles as Luna starts to transition.

Even though Regan and Luna face obstacles and the ending isn’t a perfect one, this was a very uplifting novel. It inspired hope that transgender teens are not alone and that there is support out there.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Anne Peters is an American author who was born in Jamestown, new York. She began writing later in her career. She claims she never wanted to be an author and was shocked when it happened. She says she hated reading as a teenager. Now, she has written nearly twenty books for young adults and children.

She has worked as a teacher, a computer programmer, a research analyst, and systems engineer. Other titles by Julie Anne Peters include Far From Xanadu, Keeping You a Secret, and Between Mom and Jo. She has a new book out title She Loves You, She Loves You Not…

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: http://www.julieannepeters.com/

READING LEVEL: 14+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some may object to the portrayal of a transsexual character.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.

CURRICULUM TIES: LGBT Studies

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Regan lashes out at Luna a few times in the book. Do you think she was too harsh?

It is revealed later on in the novel that Regan and Luna’s mother new about Liam all along. Do you think that makes it worse that she ignores her children’s problems?

WHY INCLUDED: This book deals with a subject that has only in the last decade been written about with compassion. There are a lot of people out there who don’t even understand what transgender means. It is my hope that by including novels like Luna in schools and libraries, we can gain a better understanding of transsexuality.