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Posts Tagged ‘LGBT’

I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip
By John Donovan
ISBN: 9780738721347
Publisher: Harper & Row (Flux for the reprint edition)
Date of Publication: 1969

Reader’s Annotation:
After the death of his grandmother, Davy adjusts to his new life with his mother in New York City.

Plot Summary:
Davy’s grandmother has just died, leaving Davy and his dachshund Fred, without a home. Eventually his mother takes Davy and Fred back to New York City, enrolling him in a private school. Davy is unsure about his future and the path of his new life. Davy’s mother is happier at a party with a cocktail in hand. Davy’s father has a new girlfriend who connects better with Davy than his own mother.

When Davy enters his new school, he meets Douglas Altschuler, a competitive jock who slowly becomes Davy’s friend. As the boys grow closer, a question begins to form in Davy’s mind: Why do I care so much about this boy? Breaking through the taboo topic of homosexuality, John Donovan’s landmark novel is the story of what it means to grow up and to become an adult in a already confusing world.

Critical Evaluation:
John Donavon’s tale of friendship and maturity is a quick but interesting read. At times the story seems too simple in that Davy’s voice is more childlike instead of a young teen’s voice. As the novel progresses, the first-person voice improves, highlighting Davy’s entrance into maturity.

In regards to the sexuality of the book, the homosexuality act between Davy and Douglas is conducted off the page. From a 21st Century perspective, this seems too tame. Yet, to even suggest such an act, especially in Young Adult fiction, would have been an incredible risk in the late 1960s. Donavon almost treats it like an afterthought. The parental reactions are a true reflection of their characters and it would have been surprising if the parents had acted differently.

Donovan’s themes of childhood maturity doesn’t just stem from sexual identity but from family situations. Davy acknowledges that his life was better because of his grandmother and that his parents will never achieve that inspirational status. One might question why Davy was placed in the care of his grandmother but it becomes apparent with Davy’s interactions with his parents that his brief encounter with his grandmother was a blessing. Towards the end of the novel, it’s clear that Davy was actually better off without either of them, which is why Davy’s maturity will be stronger than he could imagine.

While the book is not primarily focused on LGBT issues, it’s still a great book to suggest to a young LGBT audience. Audiences might feel a connection with Davy’s confusion and gain an understanding of the history of LGBT issues.

Information about the Author:
From his Obituary in the New York Times, John Donovan was a graduate of  the College of William and Mary. He gained his law degree from the Univeristy of Virginia and worked with the Library of Congress in their Copyright Office.

He served as the executive director of the Children’s Book Council. He was the author of four books and two short plays. He died in 1992 at the age of 63.

Genre:
Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Family Relationships, Sexual Identity

Booktalking Ideas:
Who do you turn to when you need to talk to someone?
Is there a place you like to escape to when everything becomes overwhelming?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
14 and up

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential issues would include homosexuality, substance abuse, and poor family relationships.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
This was the first book that addressed homosexuality in a neutral fashion. This would be a great addition to any teen seeking advice about their sexuality identity.

Reference:
New York Times. (1992). Obituaries: John Dovovan, 63; Wrote, Books and Plays. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/01/obituaries/john-donovan-63-wrote-books-and-plays.html

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Drama
Written and Drawn by Raina Telgemeier
ISBN: 9780545326995
Publisher: Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic
Date of Publication: 2012

Reader’s Annotation:
During her school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, Callie finds that the drama of the stage can follows her off stage.

Plot Summary:
Ever since her parents took her to a performance of Les Miserables, Callie has loved the theatre. While she might not be gifted in the area of musical talent, she maintains her love of performance art by working behind the stages. As the set designer for her middle school’s annual play, Callie has been assigned to transform a blank stage into a Civil War setting.

With the help of her fellow stage crew members, Callie is set to take the drama world by storm. Yet, admits this backstage adventure, the drama of the front of the house begins to merge with the back, creating tensions amongst all the players. New friendships are forged, love is lost and won and all the players learn that in theatre the show must go on.

Critical Evaluation:
Using elements from her own middle school and high school drama classes, author and artist Rania Telgemeier has created a believable story of what it’s like to be on and off the stage.

Telgemeier’s characters are drawn in a way that there’s no confusion about who is who, which could have been an issue with a large core of characters presented. The romantic storyline is an interesting part of the book in that the romance does not primarily focus on Callie. The dynamics between Callie and the twin brothers, Justin and Jesse, highlights that sexuality in theatre is not always black and white. Telgemeier handles the questions and concerns of sexual identity with care, never making judgements or assumptions about one’s worth in a potential relationship or in sexuality. As the entire idea is treated in a positive, affirming manner, the story would be a great recommendation for any LGBT teen looking for relatable material to read.

Overall, Telgemeier’s tale of stage hijinks is a fun read. While the setting is in middle school, high school audiences will still be able to connect with Telgemeier’s themes and situations.

Information about the Author:
From Raina Telgemeier’s Webpage, a current resident of New York City, specifically Queens, Telgemeier is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts. Telgemeierhas adapted and illustrated the first four Baby-Sitters Club books in graphic novels. She has worked on art for X-Men.

Telgemeier grew up in San Francisco. Her previous work include an autobiographical graphic novel called Smile.

Raina Telgemeier on Twitter

Curriculum Ties:
Art, Theatre

Booktalking Ideas:
Have you ever talked to a crush?
What is your artistic talent?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews suggests an age range of 10-14. Due to the content of the story, this can still have an impact on older audiences, specifically high schoolers.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues include homosexuality.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
I thoroughly enjoyed Telgemeier work on the Baby-Sitters Club adaptations. While this book is set in middle school, the situations can easily be transferred to a high school setting.

References:
Kirkus Reviews. (2012). Drama. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/raina-telgemeier/drama-telgemeier/

Telgemeier, R. (n.d). Info. Retrieved from http://goraina.com/info.html

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower
By Stephen Chbosky
ISBN: 9780671027346
Publisher: MTV Books/Pocket Books
Date of Publication: 1999

Reader’s Annotation:
As Charlie begins his first year in high school, he must navigate between what it means to be a friend and what it means to be yourself.

Plot Summary:
On the day before the start of his freshmen year in high school, Charlie begins to write a letter to an anonymous recipient. Throughout the year, Charlie continues to write letters about all the things he experiences.

For Charlie is a shy boy. His favorite aunt died in a tragic car accident when he was young and his good friend killed himself last year. An artistic soul, Charlie longs to make a friend but finds himself to be more of an observer on the sidelines.

But something magical happens to Charlie. He makes not only one friend but two which leads him into a whole new world he never imagined. Together with his new friends, Patrick and Sam, Charlie begins to emerge from being a mere observer to a person with purpose and direction.

Combining family drama with the chaotic world of high school, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the tale of a young man struggling to find his voice and to find love with friendship and other possibilities.

Critical Evaluation:
Tackling issues such as depression, suicide, abuse (sexual and substance), homosexuality, teen sexuality, and homophobia, this teen classic continues to have an impact on its audience. It’s clear from Chbosky’s writing that he feels that it is important to maintain an honest discussion of these highlighted topics. Chbosky doesn’t shy away from these issues and does use them in a away that they don’t feel like plot devices but a natural part of Charlie’s growing maturity.

The interactions with Patrick and Sam were amusing at the beginning in that it seems that the duo are merely humoring Charlie, but as the year goes on, it’s clear that Charlie has begun to have an impact on their lives as well. While Charlie is meant to be an observer, a wallflower, he does miss key elements due to his innocence. One can’t help but wonder if Charlie’s parents have been overprotective of him, shielding him from situations that other kids find normal or if Charlie’s depression has clouded his sight.

The book does showcase a tie to the writings of J.D. Salinger, specifically with The Catcher in the Rye. While the character of Holden Caufield might be more known for his alienated behavior, he shares a sense of loneliness in Charlie. The letter writing format of the story doesn’t detract from the storyline and is an entertaining format to read.

Information about the Author:
Stephen Chbosky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A graduate of University of Southern California, Chbosky has worked in film and television. His first book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, has been recently adapted into a film, which Chbosky also directed.

Stephen Chbosky on Twitter

Genre:
Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Abuse, Homosexuality, and Alienation

Booktalking Ideas:
Why are some memories are fresh and why are some forgotten?
Have you ever felt alone in a crowd?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Ages 16 and up.

Challenging Issues:
According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a highly challenged or banned in 2009. (OIF, 2010). Those who have challenged the book have cited issues with the book’s discussion of sexuality (masturbation and homosexuality), the use of drugs and alcohol, and language.

The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
I read this book when it first came out in 1999. I was instantly enamored with the material and felt a deep, lasting connection to Charlie and his life. When I attended a screening for the recent film adaptation, it was exciting to see a large group of teens scattered throughout the theatre. What was even more excited was to overhear the teens discuss the difference between the book and the film. For a book to continue to resonate with teens, after over ten years since its publication, means that this is an important book to recommend to teens, and possibility to older readers as well.

Reference:
Office for Intellectual Freedom. (2010). Spotlight on censorship – The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  OIF Blog. Retrieved from http://www.oif.ala.org/oif/?p=1525

Simon and Schuster. (2012). Stephen Chbosky/Official Publisher Page. Simon and Schuster. Retrieved from http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Stephen-Chbosky/1843916

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Bonus Feature!

Mini Film Adaptation Review!

(more…)

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Weetzie Bat (Dangerous Angels)
By Francesca Lia Block
ISBN: 978-0-06-200740-7
Publisher: Harper Teen, an imprint of HarperCollins
Date of Publication: 1989

Reader’s Annotation:
Weetzie Bat juggles friendship and love in the enchanted city of Los Angeles.

Plot Summary:
Published in 1989, Francesca Lia Block’s tale of romance and friendship proves a mythical, whimsical tale set in the heart of Los Angeles. Weetzie Bat and her best friend Dirk must endure the challenges of love and friendship as they struggle to understand what it means to be an individual in a large and strange world.

Critical Evaluation:
Block’s work has known its share of controversy, primarily due to the wide range of topics presented in the less than 100 page story; sexual abuse, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, and substance abuse. Block presents Los Angeles as both a fantasy land in which dreams can come true and as a harsh reality in where pain is part of even the most happiest of existence. While the material might have a whimsy tone in terms of writing style, it’s because of said writing style that the story becomes endearing. Block’s story is meant to show how a family can be created and how a city can become a playground. Overall, despite the large issues presented, the story is a fairytale and is a fun fast read for anyone interested in magical realism.

Information about the Author:
From Francesca Lia Block’s Webpage, a lifelong resident of Los Angeles, Block is the author of over thirty books. Renouned for her realistic portayl of the city of Los Angeles, Block’s stories have been called mythical, with shades of magical realism scattered throughout her tales.

Francesca Lia Block on Twitter

A recent interview with Francesca Lia Block with the Los Angeles Review of Books

Genre:
Realistic Fiction, Magical Realism, Romance

Curriculum Ties:
Modern Mythology, City Histories

Booktalking Ideas:
Why does Weetzie and her friends feel that Los Angeles is a magical place?
What makes a book a fantasy or a realistic title?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Weetzie Bat was originally published for adult audiences. It has now found a home amongst young adult readers. A suggested age range for this book would be fifteen and up.

Challenging Issues:
Block’s Los Angeles fairytale has been challenged several times since it’s publication. Issues such as homosexuality, teen pregnancy, and substance abuse have been the more cited reasons for the challenges.

The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Why was this book chosen?
Weetzie Bat was another book that I was assigned to read for my Materials for Young Adults course through San Jose State University. The book was a short read (less than a 100 pages) but the material included in the book was very dense. The various issues the characters endure are relate-able to any age group.

weetzie

Reference:
Block, F.L. (n.d.). Bio. Retrieved from http://www.francescaliablock.com/bio

Kirkus Reviews. (1989). Weetzie Bat. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/francesca-lia-block/weetzie-bat/

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