Thursday, March 24, 2011

PR Special Edition (27 Part 2): Nora Olsen Guest Post

 Poisoned Rationality Special Edition



Welcome to another Poisoned Rationality Special Edition!  Today we have the second part of Nora Olsen's Guest Post.  You can read the first part, in which Nora talks about some of the first LGBTQ fiction written for teens as well as the recent trend, here.  Today Nora will be discussing some recent LGBTQ books and a book that changed her reading outlook as a child!

Synopsis:  When World War Three breaks out, seventeen-year-old Julia is on a school trip to Amsterdam, while fourteen-year-old Marly is trapped in a prison for delinquent girls. They both discover magical amulets, and try their best to save themselves and those around them. But it looks like their best will not be enough, as nuclear war threatens the survival of the human race. On her journey home to New York, Julia is joined by three other queer teens and the mysterious and alluring Ginger; lipstick lesbian Vikki; and five-thousand-year-old Skilly, who has an amulet that grants him eternal life. When Julia and Marly meet, they are immediately attracted to each other. But romance has to take a back seat as the five friends learn the true powers of the amulets. Can they travel through time to save the world from total destruction?

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Gay Teens Are The New Vampires (Part 2)

When I was a kid growing up in NYC in the Eighties (yup, I'm old), I read a LOT of YA books. I read a lot of books about African-American characters, although I am white. Many of those books were wonderful. But I did notice that they were all about racism, slavery, the Civil Rights movement, segregation, or being the only
black kid in the class/school/team. I learned a lot, but I also got the impression that being African-American was kind of a downer and that black people must have to spend every waking moment thinking about racial prejudice. All the books I read that were focused on friendship, dating, sports, adventure, and "regular things"
were about white people. Then when I was around fourteen, I read a book that blew my mind wide open, called The Mouse Rap by Walter Dean Myers.

I am a huge fan of Walter Dean Myers, and I have to say that this is not his best book. If you read this book now, you may find it very dated because of the clothes, styles, music, and slang. But the thing that amazed me so much was the plot: Mouse tries to find buried treasure, and starts a quixotic romance with a girl named
Bev. Mouse lives in Harlem, which is lovingly described as an exciting place for a kid to grow up. The book was not about "being black" and it was not a problem novel. It was a story where the main character happens to African-American. Sensational! The world needs BOTH kinds of books.

My favorite kind of LGBTQ YA novel is not about coming out, or homophobia, or even first crush. The majority of queer YA novels are about these themes. I love to read books where being gay is not something to be overcome, and not the main focus of the book. Where being queer is just part of who the main character is, not what the book is about. Where the hero is fighting crime, training dragons, winning an Olympic medal, struggling with addiction, piloting a space craft, killing zombies, or whatever. . . and just so happens to be LGBTQ.

AshIf that sounds like the kind of book you like, too, then let me tell you about some contemporary LGBTQ YA.

Shadow WalkersShadow Walkers by Brent Hartinger is about a boy living on a remote island who learns to do astral projection when his kid brother goes missing. While floating spectrally, he meets a cute guy. Think Stranger With My Face by Lois Duncan, only gay.

HuntressHuntress by Malinda Lo. In this fantasy world, two seventeen-year old girls are sent on a dangerous quest. While fending off fairy attacks, they fall in love. (Forthcoming April 5.)

PinkPink by Lili Wilkinson. Ava is tired of being punk rock, so she transfers to a new school and starts wearing pink. But she has to hide her new persona from her parents and her girlfriend.

The End: Five Queer Kids Save The World by *cough* me. Sorry to toot my own horn, but if you want to read a book about magical amulets, time travel, and nuclear war, in which the heroes are lesbian, bi, and transgender, it has to be this one. There are still so few YA novels about transgender characters that I can count them on my fingers (and I don't have extra fingers like Hannibal Lecter.) I wanted to read a YA novel with a trans main character that was not tragic and where gender identity was not the main storyline.

As Toni Morrison says, "If there is a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."

I hope that now you're as excited to see LGBTQ novels as I am! People are saying that the vampire craze has peaked, and they're wondering what will be the hot new trend in YA. I think queer teens are going to be the new vampires!
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Thank you so much Nora for taking the time to discuss this topic with us!  I admit I'm rather uneducated in LGBTQ literature.  The closest I've come is the yaoi/shounen-ai novels, manga and doujinshi I read, but that's not really the same thing (culturally or otherwise).  I will however be reviewing Shadow Walkers soon on the blog and having Brent Hartinger as a guest! (look for it in May!)

Make sure to check out Nora at her website and check out The End: Five Queer Kids Save the World!
 
So readers, have any suggestions for me and Nora of recent additions to the LGBTQ world?

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