“Most people don't realize how important librarians are. I ran across a book recently which suggested that the peace and prosperity of a culture was solely related to how many librarians it contained. Possibly a slight overstatement. But a culture that doesn't value its librarians doesn't value ideas and without ideas, well, where are we?”
Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Alternative Views of Relationships & Love in YA Lit

John Green & David Levithan signing my copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson at ALA June 2010. John also signed a copy of Looking for Alaska for me, one of my favorite John Green novels.

We live in a wonderful time for teens. When I was growing up in the 80’s, homosexual relationships really weren’t talked about. I can only imagine what it was like for my friends who are GLBT as they were dealing with their emerging sexuality. No wonder “coming out of the closet” has been such a big deal for so many of my friends! Fortunately things are starting to shift and the bookshelves are starting to gain a vast array of excellent literature that talks about all types of relationships. The thing I like best about all of the authors I’ve highlighted is that they all ultimately send us the message that whatever the relationship and whomever it is with, relationships are about people and emotions. Love comes in many forms and it requires mutual respect.

The Vast Fields of Ordinary
By Nick Burd

It's Dade's last summer at home. He has a crappy job at Food World, an abusive “boyfriend” who won’t publicly acknowledge his existence, and parents on the verge of a divorce. College is Dade’s one hope for escape and a future where he can be himself. Then he meets the mysterious Alex Kincaid. Falling in real love finally lets Dade come out of the closet. But just when true happiness has set in, tragedy shatters the dream.

The Sky Is Everywhere
By Jandy Nelson

What do you do when your sister dies and your life falls apart around you? Lenny finds herself confronting grief with love and romance as she crawls out of her sister’s shadow and into her own skin. Her emotions unfold in lines of poetry as she uncovers how she will move on in a life without her other half.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
By John Green & David Levithan

I’ve read many John Green books and I think this collaborative effort may just be my new favorite. It is the story of two characters named Will Grayson who ultimately end up meeting at a porn store in Chicago. Green and Levithan regale the alternating Will Grayson perspectives/stories in even and odd chapters. The result is brilliant. The characters are so well depicted that you either want to throw them out a window or become best friends with them. Who wouldn’t love a 300lb gay linebacker who writes musicals, sings, and cries in front of the entire school named Tiny Cooper? In typical John Green style, his chapters are hilarious while at the same time hitting deep into relationships. This is the first I’ve read David Levithan, but his character blends perfectly with Green’s to make an excellent and refreshing novel about relationships and love on many different levels.

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