Archives for posts with tag: lesbian


After hearing all the Rep Picks for great upcoming books back in February 2013, one title went to the top of my list to read: If You Could Be Mine, by Sara Farizan (Algonquin Young Readers, $16.99, out today). Sahar and her best-friend Nasrin, live in Iran. They have been friends since childhood and Sahar has been in love ever since, at six, Nasrin pulled her hair and said. “Sahar, you will play with me because you belong to me. Only me”. Innocently telling her mother that she would like to marry Nasrin, Sahar learns that such a desire is haraam, a sin. The two girls, now seventeen, keep their relationship a secret. When Nasrin’s parents arrange for her marriage, Sahar is distraught. She begins to look for ways to keep the two of them together. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime — punishable by death — but being born into the wrong body is regarded as nature’s mistake, a disease that can be cured by corrective surgery, which is sanctioned by the state. As Sahar investigates this option, she struggles with understanding her love for Nasrin and societal definitions of sexuality. Caring only about staying with Nasrin, Sahar is forced to confront the very clear distinction between being a lesbian and being transgender.

The story is infused with Iranian words and customs that will be of interest to readers who enjoy learning about other cultures. It also raises some very challenging questions about sexuality and categorization. But overall, it is a well-written and universal story about a girl growing up and trying to find herself. It’s a story about love and the things we’ll do to hold onto to it and a story about that first discovery when you start to see the world outside of your childhood. If You Could Be Mine is Sara Farizan’s first novel and it is bold. I look forward to seeing more from her in the future.
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Again, this isn’t really a Halloween book, but I think you get the point by now. Split Screen: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies by Brent Hartinger (HarperCollines, $6.99 ebook) is the third volume of books that, while not a trilogy exactly, focus on a core group of characters. In The Geography Club, Russell and friends start a gay-straight alliance under the guise of a ‘boring’ geography club. The adventures and misadventures continue in The Order of the Poison Oak, when Russell (with his friends, of course) becomes a camp counselor for the summer. In Split Screen, the narrative is divided into two books, Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies and Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies. One book narrated by Russell, the other by one of his best friends, Min. The two of them — plus assorted friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, and potentials — sign up to be extras in a zombie movie that is being filmed in their high school. Unlike other popular YA novels, this book doesn’t alternate between the two narrators, but instead presents two distinct perspectives of the same events to be read separately. First, read Russell’s story from the front, then flip the book over and read Min’s story starting from the back. voilà! Double feature! (does anyone else now have the Rocky Horror Picture Show opening song playing in your head? ) The similarities between zombies and high-school students are not lost on either Russell or Min. Both struggle to find ways of staying themselves even when everyone around them seems just a little bit mindless. This isn’t a horror story at all, but fans of the genre will recognize and appreciate the tropes that infuse this unique and engaging narrative.

As I’ve indicated before, there are many amazing YA books being published these days, but my favorite ones to recommend are anything by David Levithan and John Green, especially Will Grayson/Will Grayson, which is co-written by David Levithan AND John Green (Speak, $9.99). woot!

Two Will Graysons, living in two different suburbs of Chicago meet unexpectedly one night. Like all of Levithan’s books, the spectrum of sexuality is represented through a range of characters. Gay, lesbian, bi, straight, questioning, unknown: they’re all there and they’ll all supported and encouraged. This book alternates between the two Will Grayson’s, one written by each author. Levithan’s stories are refreshing because they don’t include the ‘traumatic coming out’ experience that is often a staple in lbgtq YA books. The characters in his books, regardless of their sexual orientation, are always interesting kids. Levithan’s Will Grayson is more melancholic than many of his other characters (Paul in Boy Meets Boy immediately comes to mind), but mostly because he’s a teenager, not because he’s gay. Green’s Will Grayson has his own issues with relationships and friendships. His spot on commentary about high school dynamics made me laugh out loud several times.

But don’t stop there, read all of their other books, too, because Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List (co-written with Rachel Cohn), The Realm of Possibilities, An Abundance of Katherines, and, of course, the amazing The Fault in Our Stars are each phenomenal. And let’s all hope that they collaborate again soon.

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