TEEN BOOK BUZZ
November 18, 2014
Memoirs in Transition
Rethinking Normal by Katie Rain Hill and Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews are two new YA memoirs by transgender teens, the former about the MTF experience and the latter about the FTM experience. They should be read as a companion piece, since the two teens were involved in a serious relationship and tell similar stories of brave advocates who grew up in Oklahoma. They have sad, but inspiring stories to share.
I like the term " memoir in transition ", which is the subtitle of Hill's book, because not only have the Hill and Andrews gone through a huge transition in gender and sex, but they are also in flux like all adolescents and their stories, individually and together, are constantly being written and rewritten.
The number of new LGBT books is exploding; it's overwhelming to keep up with them, actually, which is a great new experience. I think I've written before about Baby Be-Bop, Annie on My Mind and Am I Blue? being the only books in my childhood library. While diversity in teen literature and LGBT books has a long way to go, finally there are more books that reflect the underrepresented T in LGBT. Visibility is so important.
Readers might be interested to know that Hill's coauthor is the graphic novelist Ariel Schrag who published her first novel, Adam, this year.
October 27, 2014
Sylvia Plath was never too good at math
Today is the birthday of Sylvia Plath. I heard this on the radio way too early this morning.
It took me by surprise, because I've been reading the strange Young Adult book Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. It's about trauma and bibliotherapy and the need to find community with other sufferers. And it's about a group of boarding school students reading The Bell Jar and Ariel. There's a Joy Division shirt on the cover of the book for the eagle eyed.
Listen to either Peter Laughner's original or Death of Samatha's cover of the song Sylvia Plath. It's a little sardonic, a little heartbreaking. You can also hear the poet herself reading her work and her voice isn't how you'd expect it to sound.
October 15, 2014
Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge
Since Netflix is streaming Gilmore Girls and I've been watching it for the first time since the early oughts, I thought I'd share the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge. There are 339 books on the list, ranging from Anna Karenina to Eloise.
This is a really brilliant idea. This TV show is special for the quick wits of its characters and the insanely long scripts; the actors had to memorize an incredible amount of dialogue. The show is known for its widely varied cultural references, from low to high and obscure to mainstream. One character boasts of bookshelf containing everything from Wuthering Heights to Valley of the Dolls, "a true classic."
The young protagonist of the show is attractive and well liked, but the most important thing to her is knowledge and academic success and unlike a so-called writer like Carrie Bradshaw, Rory was actually seen reading many times and books were hugely important to the plot.
Here's one of my favorite book related exchanges in the show, one that is frighteningly evocative of my own habits:
LORELAI: Just take your schoolbooks and leave some of the other books.
RORY: I need all of my other books.
LORELAI: You don't need all of these.
RORY: I think I do.
LORELAI: Edna St. Vincent Millay?
RORY: That's my bus book.
LORELAI: Uh huh. What's the Faulkner?
RORY: My other bus book.
LORELAI: So just take one bus book.
RORY: No, the Millay is a biography, and sometimes if I'm on the bus and I pull out a biography and I think to myself, 'Well, I don't really feel like reading about a person's life right now' then I'll switch to the novel, and then sometimes if I'm not into the novel, I'll switch back.
LORELAI: Hold on. What is the Gore Vidal?
RORY: Oh, that's my lunch book.
LORELAI: Uh huh. So lose the Vidal or the Faulkner. You don't need two novels.
RORY: Vidal's essays.
LORELAI: Uh huh. But the Eudora Welty's not essays or a biography.
LORELAI: So it's another novel, lose it!
RORY: Unh uh. It's short stories.
LORELAI: Ugh. This is a sickness.
RORY: Ha! I made it all fit. Edna, Bill, Gore and Eudora, all safe and sound.
LORELAI: Cool. That's your French book.
RORY: Hmm? Oh, I know. I'm carrying my French book.
LORELAI: Mm hmm. You so thought that French book was already in there.
RORY: I did not.
LORELAI: You have a problem.
RORY: No I don't.
LORELAI: You're gonna tip over from the weight of that backpack.
RORY: No I'm not.
LORELAI: I'm gonna have to buy you a forklift. Bye.