Coming out in Kid Lit

Today is National Coming Out Day, which got me thinking about LGBTQIA+ representation in YA and children’s literature. While there certainly can be more stories featuring realistic, nuanced representations of LGBTQIA+ characters (protagonists! friends! heroes! parents! etc!), I’m heartened by the books young readers do have today, to let them know that their feelings are valid and that they can be the main characters of their own stories.

Which means that, of course, I need to share some of my recent favorite reads featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard: a great look at sexual identity and gender identity, as Pen struggles against her family and friends’ ideas of what it means to be a young woman. I also loved the minor characters in this. #teamblake

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown: a twist on the coming out story, as very out Jo hides her sexual identity when she moves to a small, conservative town.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee: bi, gay, and asexual representation in this super fun and touching historical adventure. I’m psyched for the sequel, which will follow Felicity!

George by Alex Gino: one of the sweetest and most sensitive coming out stories, about a young trans girl who just wants to be Charlotte in her school’s production of Charlotte’s Web.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: one of my new favorite contemporary YAs, about theatre and friendship and first love and figuring out who you are and how to share that with the world.

As I Descended by Robin Talley: in case you want some classically-inspired scares and intrigue with your representation, this one’s a female take on Macbeth, starring two young women at an elite boarding school.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour: one of my new favorites full stop, this is a fantastic look at first love and friendship and loneliness and grief and reaching out to those we love.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: a powerful and hopeful story about a young trans girl trying to make a new start for herself.

Other books you’d add to this list? Share ’em in the comments! In the meantime, remember–you are valid and you deserve love.

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! I’m sorry I’ve been so MIA recently–things have gotten busy with work and life and Bodo the dog. One of the things that’s been keeping me busy has been a web design class, which is awesome and maybe means I’ll update this site sometime in the near future. In the meantime, here’s a look at what I’ve been reading, in fifteen words or fewer:

Chime by Franny Billingsley
Fun and creepy, with a great voice, while also being about gaslighting and abuse.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Interesting blend of contemporary MG and fantasy. Major middle school friendship feels.

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Sweet and touching story of family, religion, and coming out. Also manages to subvert expectations.

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys–and happy September! Suddenly it’s felt like Boston realized fall is coming, and I feel like everything should be baking and books and coziness. (Okay, that’s how everything should be all the time.) Let’s get the long weekend started with a few fifteen-word-max book reviews!

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Absolutely loved this quiet look at grief and love and family and mistakes and hope.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
I adore Woodson’s writing, and this novel for adults is both heartbreaking and hopeful.

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Should definitely be a movie, ala True Grit. I love a girl out for revenge.

Links Galore

Lots of links I’ve been saving:

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! It’s been a week of travel, good friends, good food, eclipses, and books. Looking forward to a relaxing weekend at home, and of course more books. Let’s get the weekend rolling with a few fifteen-word (or fewer) book reviews.

Flying Lessons and Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh 
Lovely and heartbreaking and genuine collection of middle grade stories featuring diverse voices and authors.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
A powerful and disquieting story about one girl’s struggled to survive Stalin’s Gulag.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
I’m fully Team John Ambrose McClaren. Sorry, Peter, you’re not good enough for Lara Jean!

My Heart’s in Charlottesville

When I was preparing for a book event in Charlottesville last year, my mom said, “Your hometown!” It’s not where I was born or raised, and it’s not where I live, but it’s the home of my heart. I spent four wonderful years there while attending UVA, and go back every chance I get. It’s a special place in my life

So hearing about the violence and hate this weekend deeply hurt me. I was sickened to see white supremacists and Nazis waving torches on the steps of the Rotunda, to see the hate in their faces, and, worst of all, to see that people died and many others were injured as a result of this hatred.

Charlottesville isn’t a perfect place, but it’s the home of my heart. Right now, I’m feeling similar to how I felt after the Boston Marathon bombing–it’s an attack in a place I love, on values I hold dear.

My heart is with those who live in Charlottesville and saw their city shaken by bigotry, and the UVA students who will return to Grounds in this climate. I have faith that you all will stand firm on the side of love and justice and inclusion. Hate and violence have no place in the places we love, and it’s up to us to stand up for what’s right.

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! Somehow it’s August, which makes me feel like the summer is going by way too quickly, even though I’d really like for it not to be five thousand degrees outside. (Somehow Bodo still wants to go on like hour-long walks; I bring water for us but COME ON, BUDDY.) Let’s get a cool drink and check out a few book reviews in fifteen words or fewer:

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Touching story and beautifully written. Great supporting characters, and an extremely worthwhile author’s note.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Ending felt slightly rushed, but I love Lara Jean and her sisters so much.

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! It’s been an endless week, but I’m feeling some good writing vibes and am going to spend the weekend with some dogs, so things are feeling okay. Let’s get the weekend started with a few book reviews in fifteen words or fewer:

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
Fascinating look at what happens to us after we’re no longer us.

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman
Wanted to love this one more than I did. Strong writing though; literary feel.

Grit by Angela Duckworth
Talent is nice, but the ability to keep going is what matters. (Important for writers!)

Mental Health, Hogwarts Houses, The Correct Pronunciation of Gif, and Other Strong Opinions

Obviously I’m a big fan of podcasting, so when the lovely people at Candlewick Press reached out to me about their podcast, Candlewick Press Presents, I was beyond excited. I had a fantastic conversation with the Candlewick team about writing, my time as a Candlewick intern, why I love social media, why I’m jealous of how good Walt is at titles, and more. (This didn’t even include the pre-recording conversation about which Candlewick team members would be in which Hogwarts houses, a topic we all take very seriously.)

You can hear my interview on iTunes and Stitcher, and make sure to check out the previous episodes, as well. They include interviews of amazing writers and illustrators like Aaron Becker, creator of gorgeous wordless picture books like Journey, and Lesléa Newman, author of the classic Heather Has Two Mommies. Can you hear my fangirling?

Thanks to the Candlewick team for including me in such a great project. Can’t wait to hear the rest of Candlewick Press Presents, season 1!

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! Although to be honest, Friday both snuck up on me and didn’t get here soon enough, so I don’t really know how to feel about it. At least I’m hoping to catch up on life stuff and work and sleep this weekend so maybe by Monday I’ll be back to normal. In the meantime, here’s a look at what I’ve been reading in fifteen words or fewer:

As I Descended by Robin Talley
YA lesbian Macbeth is all I needed to hear. Talley’s writing’s awesome; story’s legit creepy.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
A fun take on contemporary vampires–more Buffy than Twilight here, with some great moments.

PS–I’ve also been wanting to change up the Friday Fifteen format a little (again). While I love the book reviews, I think it would be nice to add some other stuff to this. I’ve done writing updates, but sometimes that doesn’t lend itself to fifteen words or fewer (or even fifteen words at all). Maybe you guys have thoughts?

And if you have specific ideas about what you’d want to see, share them in the comments!