June 01, 2016

Sing a rainbow in June for LGBT Pride month!

In addition to the Obama administration's declaration protecting transgender students' access to the restroom of their gender identity, the LGBT movement will be recognized with its first national monument, in the Stonewall Inn.

Here is an updated bibliography of some new and classic books for tweens and teens that we have in our library collection. Adults may enjoy them, too!

LGBT BOOKS for Tweens & Teens

Bausum, Ann -- Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights
Bray, Libba -- Beauty Queens
Cameron, Peter -- Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You
Cameron, Janet E. -- Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World
Chbosky, Stephen -- The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
Danforth, Emily M. --†The Miseducation Of Cameron Post
Dole, Mayra -- Down to the Bone
Farizan, Sara --†Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
Federle, Tim -- Better Nate than Ever (Tween); The Great American Whatever
Franklin, Emily and Brendan Halpin - Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom
Garden, Nancy -- Annie On My Mind
Gephart, Donna -- Lily and Dunkin (Tween)
Green, John and David Levithan -- Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Gregorio, I.W. -- None of the Above
Hill, Katie Rain with Ariel Schrag -- Rethinking Normal: a Memoir in Transition
Horner, Emily -- A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend
Howe, James -- Totally Joe (Tween)
Katcher, Brian -- Almost Perfect
Kuklin, Susan -- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
LaCour. Nina -- Everything Leads To You
Levithan, David -- Two Boys Kissing; Another Day
Lo, Malinda -- Adaptation
Moskowitz, Hannah -- Not Otherwise Specified
Myracle, Lauren -- Shine
Nelson, Jandy -- Iíll Give You the Sun
Peters, Julie Anne -- Luna
Polonsky, Ami -- Gracefully Grayson
Prince, Liz -- Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir
Self, Jeffrey -- Drag Teen
Setterington, Ken -- Branded by the Pink Triangle
Woodson, Jacqueline -- The House You Pass On the Way

rainbowbooks


Posted by kathryn at 02:12 PM   VIEW FULL POST

May 25, 2016

this is where it ends

some_text

I'm not sure what we should expect from a book about a school shooting but I was floored by how upsetting Dutch author Marieke Nijkamp's this is where it ends is. The story, set in small town Alabama, is told in four students' voices and features a lot of flashbacks and real-time tweets. These devices do not help to flesh out characters, nor differentiate them from one another. I found myself reading the novel's beginning with impatience, wanting to get to the inevitable devastation.

The story is tense--the body count adds up while we beg for it to end-- but the pacing is uneven. The 54 minutes of the shooting drags at times. The choices of the students are frustrating and the response from law enforcement seems sluggish.

As in other disaster or tragedy stories, the motivating plot dominates the characterization. This is where it ends is hard to put down, but in a way that feels voyeuristic; I felt a little guilty about being sucked in to the drama. Each of Tyler's shots is such a senseless waste of life. And yet it was hard for me to really root for anyone in particular.

If this is a topic that interests you, look into Hate List by Jennifer Brown and I Crawl Through It by A.S. King, which also address school violence.

Posted by kathryn at 03:59 PM   VIEW FULL POST

May 02, 2016

What We Saw

What We Saw Cover

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler is a fictionalized portrayal of the Steubenville, Ohio rape case of 2012. We know what's to come in What We Saw. We have an idea of what will be seen, but we do not know the particulars. Hartzler builds tension by setting the scene and depicting his characters as ordinary popular school kids, not monsters.
Once we know the details of the rape of Stacey Stallard and the community-wide victim blaming that ensues, What We Saw develops into a shocking expose of brutality and indifference. Because of the graphic retelling of events, it is recommended for older teens. Hartzler's Iowa is a stand in for Ohio, but it could be any American town, from Pennsylvania to Texas, where sports are king.

Kate Weston is the ambivalent moral compass of the story. In general, I longed for more character development of all the characters, and though I understand his motives, I wish we could have gotten to know the survivor, Stacey Stallard and understand her experience firsthand. Too many of the tertiary characters blend together.

Kate agonizes over the cruel response to Stacey, her former friend. She is torn between loyalty to her boyfriend, teammates, and friends, and doing what is right. Ultimately, Kate's story is one of uneasy bravery. The way that Kate educates her younger brother (in the absence of their parents' moral instruction) about consent is powerful and avoids didacticism.

One of the best scenes of the book is when one of the accused says something victim blaming and the teacher, Mr. Johnston, commences a brainstorming session to come up with all the ways that boys can help, not harm a drunk girl. He concludes with, "Reggie, when you say that you 'can't help yourself' if a girl is wasted, that means something, too. You're saying that our natural state as men is 'rapist.'"

So many people in the story are complicit and afraid. They act out of personal interest. I like that Hartzler holds them responsible for failing to speak up and yet says they are not evil. He eschews easy judgment of the teens who mostly seem to lack moral guidance from the adults in their lives.

Hartzler has contributed to an important discussion on consent, social responsibility, public shaming in social media, and rape culture. What We Saw is a conversation starter; it shows an insider's view of the way news media investigates and disrupts a town in turmoil and the role of social media in shaping young people's attitudes and actions about girls.

For so long, the conversation about sexual assault has placed the onus on the victimized. It has taken a long time but finally there is a mainstream awareness of the importance of consent and preventing abuse by teaching boys not to abuse, rather than shaming girls for their dress and decisions to drink or travel alone.

There are many resources, essays, and articles where one can begin reading about YA books, rape culture, and consent. It's an important topic that cannot be ignored.

Posted by kathryn at 02:10 PM   VIEW FULL POST

April 22, 2016

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

<HTML5 Icon

Exit, Pursued by a Bear, named after Shakespeare's most famous stage direction, from A Winter's Tale is set not in 17th Century Sicily, but in small-town Canada in the cheerleading subculture.

Hermione is a serious cheerleader entering her last year of high school, when she is drugged and raped at cheerleading camp. She doesn't know who did it, but what ensues is less of a mystery and more of an internal battle for healing and a celebration of strong female friendship.

While some readers think that E.K. Johnston sanitized sexual assault by making Hermione's support system so strong and depicting her assault as little as possible, I think that Johnston gets her message across without traumatizing the reader as much as she could, while also advocating feminism and positive female relationships.
Surely there are girls who have experiences similar to Hermione's and why not tell that story, too and not just the worst-case scenarios.

The scene with the newspaper reporter toward the story's end addresses the issue of slut shaming and the burden placed on girls to prevent attacks against them. Hermione's bestie Polly rants in response to the reporter, "You're okay with asking that girl what mistake she made, and you wouldn't think to ask a boy how he would avoid raping someone?"

I don't want to give too much away about the content, but page 138 of this book is one of the most feminist things I've ever read in teen fiction.

Like Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, Courtney Summers' All the Rage and Aaron Hartzler's new What We Saw, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is an important book about sexual assault, about being broken and healed.

Posted by kathryn at 04:43 PM   VIEW FULL POST

April 15, 2016

The Memory of Light

HTML5 Icon

Many YA books are written about depression and suicide, but few are as honest and gripping a read as Francisco X. Stork's The Memory of Light. As Stork has shown in one of his previous books, Marcelo in the Real World, he is a writer who dives into moral quandaries, balancing concerns for self and other. Stork's writing is never condescending or insensitive and his moral compass as a writer never strays into didactic territory.

Stork avoids the potential pitfalls of romanticizing mental illness, promising quick and easy recovery, or minimizing the suffering that depressed teens experience. His writing is informed by his personal experience of his own depression in young adulthood, which is appended in an author's note. And as a Latino attorney who works in affordable housing, he brings knowledge to his book's discussion of class and Latino identity.

The relationship between Vicky and Mona is reminiscent of the dynamic between Susanna and Lisa in Susanna Kaysen's Girl Interrupted. Mona is bipolar and gregarious, while Vicky is depressed and withdrawn. I appreciated that Vicky wasn't a hard character to like and that she didn't have secret pain; the plot didn't hinge on a dramatic reason for her depression, other than her mother's death which the reader knows about from the beginning.

As Vicky wisely says, "Depression can be a normal reaction to a life event, like my mother's death, or it can be a symptom of another physical illness, or even a side effect of drugs. But sometimes depression is in itself the illness -- an illness like any other illness, like the flu or the mumps."

The Memory of Light shows that individuals are complicated and recovery is not easy. One of my favorite aspects of the book is how Vicky struggles to understand her worth and her identity. While she has been fortunate to have been born into privilege, she does not fit in with her family of birth. She learns her strengths through belonging to her group of fellow sufferers in the hospital. Vicky learns that even though her father belittles her for not being Ivy-bound, she is brave and sensitive and skilled at hard work.

Posted by kathryn at 04:40 PM   VIEW FULL POST
Recent Entries

this is where it ends
What We Saw
Exit, Pursued by a Bear
The Memory of Light
Gareth Hinds Program
Like No Other versus Don't Fail Me Now
Kissing in America
Everything, Everything is everything.
Uses for Boys
Other Web Logs
Library News
Teen Book Buzz
City News Pages
Archives
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
June 2015
May 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
January 2012
December 2011
September 2011
May 2011
April 2011
October 2010
September 2010
June 2010
April 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
April 2008
January 2008
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
November 2006
October 2006
Takoma Park city seal THE LIBRARY IS A DEPARTMENT OF THE CITY OF TAKOMA PARK
Call the desk at 301-891-7259
Contact the director by e-mail