Today’’s world offers hope and, tragically, huge challenges for LGBTQ teens. There are more resources than ever to help people who may identify as gay, transgender, bisexual or just plain queer. But as much help as there is out there, there is just as much cruelty and bullying going on at schools and at home. We need to remember that there’’s hope, and good reads do just that. The American Library Association Rainbow Project has created a list of recommended books for young readers found here. ALA also sponsors the Stonewall Book Awards, including a category for children and young adults; you can find all the lists here. In 2006, GLBTQ was one of the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults themes, and that list can be found here.
In the books I would like to share all of the teens face challenges, grow, learn and really do move on to live their lives to the fullest.
Rage: A Love Story by Julie Ann Peters
This is not your conventional romance. It’s about abusive relationships, family and a sad first love. Johanna and Reeve are in their senior year in High School. Johanna, a lesbian who is (mostly) confident finds her world turned upside-down and inside-out through her love for Reeve, an angry, violent girl. Johanna makes many terrible mistakes, and then because of her actions she has to later rebuild her life in a healthy way. Johanna grows as a person even after her whole life falls apart. And while Reeve isn’t a nice person, her romance with Johanna is often sexy and playful until Reeve turns nasty. Johanna shows us that while your world may seem destroyed, you can still pick up and move on.
Hero by Perry Moore
In a world where superheroes are just part of life, Thom and his dad, a former superhero, are outcasts. When high-schooler Thom starts to show superhero powers, he is secretly invited to join the superhero League. There, he is teamed up with an unusual group of “heroes” and is finally forced out of the closet. While Thom’’s father is initially upset to find out that Thom is gay, he is even more upset that Thom has joined the League. This story doesn’’t revolve just around Thom’’s sexuality: it’’s about the choices we have to make in this world. Thom faces some very big choices, made even larger because all super-villains are out to destroy the world, after all! Thom’’s revelations and discoveries lead to some tough situations that he has to work through to help save, well, …everything.
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
When Logan befriends Sage, he never expects to fall in love with her. Then, when this small-town High School boy finds out that Sage is transgender, they fight, make up and go further than they ever expected. Logan’’s treatment of Sage, who was born a boy but now lives as a girl, is not sugar-coated by the author. Logan likes Sage very much, but has a hard time accepting her. This story has a lot of ups and many downs, as Sage faces prejudice and bigotry. One of the great things about the book is that it reveals the very real problems and issues that many transgender teens face today. It’’s not easy being in-between genders, as Logan learns. Sage comes across as such a great character you’’ll be hoping the author writes a sequel with her in it, especially since there are few great transgender characters in books.
–Susan Barnum, just finished Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund
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