Some extra titles to enjoy

Hi everyone, I hope you found The Best Man as fascinating as I did. For this extra post I’ve included a few similar stories I had read and collected into my notebooks. These all feature young tweens who identify as either gay or transgender, not just a familiar adult or teacher. As my reading these days expand into different genres I can’t help but notice that there is a rise in LGBTIQ representation within tween and teen fiction. I know some people might find it difficult, but to me these stories are exceptionally well written. So, why not have a go and see what you can learn with these first few titles. 

Star crossed two girl dancing with masks as Romeo and Juliet blue background
An engaging read!

Title: Star Crossed

Author: Barbara Dee

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: Aladdin; NY, 2017

What this book is about: Twelve-year-old Mattie is thrilled when she learns the 8th grade play will be Romeo and Juliet. In particular, she’s excited to share the stage with Gemma Braithwaite, who has been cast as Juliet. Gemma is brilliant and pretty, and Mattie starts to see her more than just a friend even though Mattie has also had an off-and-on crush on her classmate Elijah since, well, forever. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys and girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things offstage were beginning to resemble their own Shakespearean drama: the cast is fighting, and the boy playing Romeo may not be up to the challenge of the role. And due to a last-minute emergency, Mattie is asked to step in as Romeo – opposite Gemma’s Juliet – just as Mattie’s secret crush starts to become not so secret in her group of friends. In this funny, sweet, and clever look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to become a lead player in her own life. 

My review: What a delightful story this was!! Filled with middle grade drama and humour, this story will not disappoint. This was one of my first few books I had read that had descriptions of a young girl’s crush on another girl. Barbara Dee crafted the story quite elegantly and her narrative and story line expertly weaved these strong issues into the all-too typical dramas that ensues with Shakespeare! I think breaching these topics with tween readers gets them talking about it and parents are then able to help them understand emotions and the complexity of these different relationships with not just friends but family as well!! This was to me a great read!!

My rating: 4 ½ ⭐

Additional notes: This title was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Middle Grade and Children’s in 2017. 

George multi-coloured letters on white background small face with just forehead peering through centre of O
An engaging read!

Title: George

Author: Alex Ginio

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: Scholastic Press; NY, 2015

What this book is about: When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part… because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte – but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

My review: Truth be told, I had an inkling this would be about coming out as transgender. There must be others out there who have similar fears and insecurities about both their sexuality and body image. I think my heart wept for little George each time she tried to talk to her mother about it. The characters felt so real to me. Each chapter, each scene was expertly executed with so much emotion in each sentence. There were some very funny moments, some hurtful scenes of bullying but what I loved the most was how the family relationships were portrayed. Especially with the older brother, Connor. I loved her friend Kelly, I sort of wished I could have been her friend too. A really well-written first novel about a transgender child. This story captivated me from start to finish 

My rating: 5 ⭐

Additional information: After some in depth digging on the internet I found out that the author is also transgender. This title has won the Stonewall Book Award for Children’s in 2016, the California Book Award for Juvenile (Gold) in 2015, and was nominated for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award in 2017 along with some others.

Lily and Dunkin large blue tree with blue branches two children sitting on bottom branch in small letters at bottom Let the world see you.
An engaging read!!

Title: Lily and Dunkin

Author: Donna Gephart

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: Delacorte Press; NY, 2016

What this book is about: Sometimes our hearts see things our eyes can’t. Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you were born in a boy’s body. Especially when you’re in the 8th grade. Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past 13 years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives change forever. Award-winning author Donna Gephart crafts a compelling dual narrative about remarkable young people. Lily and Dunkin’s powerful story will shred your heart, then stitch it back together with kindness, humour, bravery, and love.

My review: OMG, that’s exactly what happened to me!! After finishing it, I dried the tears pouring down, blew my nose (I was nursing a cold!) and felt my exploded heart heal thanks to the power of empathy and tolerance. Every single character is memorable, even the close-minded bully Vasquez!! I love the fact that the two separate narratives give a perspective of two very different personalities. Lily’s amazing bravery and kindness, Dunkin’s loyalty and friendship, plus the many family relationships that weave superbly together give you the reader what life is like for transgender kids and those with mental illness. Donna Gephart has produced an amazing book that moved me beyond words and opened my eyes and world view on these very important issues that young people face today. I applaud her for bringing about the characters of Lily, and how she deals with life as a transgender youth. Even growing up cisgender, I myself had to deal with bullying but I didn’t have half the courage Lily has!! An awesome and powerful read!!

My rating: 5 ⭐

Additional notes: This title was nominated for the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award in 2019 and the Goodreads Choice Award for Middle Grade & Children’

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