129 If I Was Your Girl

ifiwasyourgirlby Meredith Russo, 2016

I kind of hate fairy tales. Not the Brothers Grimm sort, which are actually quite gruesome and only vaguely resemble the stories we were told as kids, and not even really the Disney sort, because I can’t lie that, as much as it rankles my inner feminist, I still enjoyed Beauty and the Beast. No, I mean those stories where someone with a “problem” – they have a string of failed relationships, they are clumsy, they (gasp!) have curly hair and glasses – overcomes said “problem” to live happily ever after. I realize there is some comfort in knowing that we are all lovable despite our differences, but this sort of trite plot and predictable ending are far from new and far from interesting.

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113 Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

aristotledanteby Benjamin Alire Sáenz, 2012

There is always the risk when reading immensely popular books of your expectations exceeding the book’s reality. I was prepared for this to be the case when I finally got around to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, a much lauded book online and on BookTube for its depiction of a relationship between two teenage boys. Young adult novels positively depicting gay relationships are still something of a novelty, so we’re in a place where most books that do this, regardless of the quality of the writing, get a pass simply because they address a subject that is marginalized and, in some cultures, taboo. In some ways I believe Aristotle and Dante is getting that pass, but I was pleased to find that, in other ways, it is wholly deserving of the attention it has received.

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36 George

GeorgeI’m a firm believer that the more we discuss taboo subjects, the more normalized they become. I don’t have children, but I know that if I did, I’d want them to know where babies come from. I’d want them to know the anatomical names for their body parts. I’d want them to know that they are in control of their own bodies. And I’d want them to know that not everyone is the same and that’s okay. In George (Alex Gino, 2015) we have an excellent example of the latter. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss everything the book offers – gender identity, transgenderism, tolerance – and for that I think that the book’s existence is incredibly important. So, it pains me to say that, unfortunately, I do not love the writing.

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