Rainbow Reading: July 11

My thoughts on the LGBTQ books I’ve read in the past week. All titles are linked to their Goodreads page.

Between July 4th and 10th, I read:

A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni & Tristan Jimerson (2018)
Genre: nonfiction/graphic novel
Audience: young adult/adult
Queer rep: Bongiovanni is genderqueer
Thoughts: This is a straightforward introduction to gender-neutral pronouns in, as promised, a quick and easy way. It took maybe 15 minutes to read the whole thing and it’s done in a fun comic style. I left it on the table in the staff break room and at least one of my coworkers read it and then came to me to talk about it, so I’d recommend it for that alone haha.

Keeping Long Island by Courtney Peppernell (2017)
Genre: fiction/romance
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The MC is lesbian and the love interest is bi
Thoughts: This suffers from a lot of “telling, not showing”, which I think is hard to avoid with the format – the book is presented as Kayden’s journal, so it’s a lot of her talking about her life and ruminating about her life – that is, telling us about it. I stuck with it though because it deals realistically with depression and I ended up invested in the story.

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig (2018)
Genre: mystery
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC is gay and a secondary character is bi
Thoughts: This gets a solid “eh” from me. I’m not a huge mystery reader, but this and Roehrig’s first book (Last Seen Leaving) keep popping up on Best of Gay YA lists so I caved and picked this up. I was fairly bored with it, which seems kind of funny to say considering there are multiple murders, an arson incident, blackmail, and all sorts of crazy things happening, but I just didn’t connect with the characters at all. The eventual confrontation with the murderer was an admittedly page-turning chapter but even then I didn’t really care about the murderer’s identity or how it would all be wrapped up.

Heavy Vinyl, Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin & Nina Vakueva (2018)
Genre: fiction/graphic novel
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC and a secondary character are lesbians
Thoughts: This is a fun little series set in an indie music store with a secret. The original title of this series was Hi-Fi Fight Club, which kind of gives away the secret. I was expecting a more realistic fiction story so I was a bit taken aback when we got into conspiracies and brainwashing, and everything wrapped up kind of abruptly, but overall this was fun and I’d read a second volume if one comes out.

Ship It by Britta Lundin (2018)
Genre: fiction
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: One POV character is questioning; one may be questioning; a secondary character is pansexual; a secondary character is lesbian.
Thoughts: For the most part, I thought this was very entertaining. There are definitely legitimate criticisms of it (Claire does a few indefensible things and a lot of characters have problems with respecting people’s privacy and safety, such as outing people!) but for the most part I enjoyed this book despite that. Willing suspension of disbelief is a useful tool with YA that is nominally realistic fiction but in reality goes over the top! Quick note to say it actually took me two tries to get into this because the first chapter is one of Claire’s fanfiction stories and I read it going wait…what is happening? I ended up flipping to chapter 2 to figure out what was going on and then I was put off by that as the reason Claire has stopped writing is she needs to look up some porn to figure out what she’s having her characters do! It was just a little…more…than I was expecting. I ended up putting it down for several days after that, but when I picked it up again I got into the story and finished it the same day.

Pride Must Be a Place by Kevin Craig (2018)
Genre: fiction
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC is gay; quite a few secondary characters are gay, bi, or lesbian
Thoughts: This almost seems like several stories in one. It’s a little bit coming out, a little bit coming-of-age, and a little bit high school drama, all centering around the creation of a Gay-Straight Alliance at a small-town high school. Except it turns out that the creation of the GSA actually goes fairly smoothly and the MC’s problems are more interpersonal: falling out with a friend, finding a boyfriend, coming out to his parents. Some of the characters start out fairly stereotypical, but there is a lot of character development over the course of the book, which makes the interpersonal focus much more interesting.

In the Desert by Elliot Joyce (2018)
Genre: fiction
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC is a gay trans guy; the secondary MC is bi; a secondary character is a trans guy
Thoughts: This is the epitome of short and sweet. It’s a novella, really, at just 106 pages, and it is minimal angst. Just a sweet coming-of-age story with some memorable characters. I read it with great enjoyment and was smiling at the end.

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