Tag: diverse books

Bi Pride

10 Incredible YA Novels with Bisexual Protagonists

Pride Month may be drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t celebrating now and year-round! Pride, after all, is about more than the plastic whistles thrown off parade floats slapped with the labels of various corporations. It’s not [insert alcohol company here] that we love; it’s both the celebration and the space to celebrate.

Before we dive into this list, let’s cover all the bases of bisexuality. (No, I don’t mean the same ‘base system’ you probably learned at a middle school sleepover.) First, bisexuality does not necessarily mean attraction to ONLY men and women. Instead, it means attraction to more than one sex or gender—and it doesn’t exclude non-binary people. Second, while bisexuality and other non-monosexual identities, like pansexuality and omnisexuality, may overlap, it’s still insensitive to tell someone that they’re ‘basically pan’ if that isn’t how they identify. Some people see these terms as essentially interchangeable; others feel the distinction is valuable.

Lastly, “bisexual” is a catch-all term to incorporate a wide range of identities. While many bi+ people are both bisexual and biromantic, others may fall on the asexual & aromantic spectrum. Since “bisexual” is the most common and widely-understood term for the bi+ experience, it’s a convenient term for discussing people who experience attraction to multiple genders—but it doesn’t exclude other experiences under the bi+ umbrella.

Ready? Let’s check out these UN-BI-LIEVABLE reads!

 

 

 

 

I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST

 

'I Wish You All the Best' by Mason Deaver

 

Remember what we were just saying about bisexuality being inclusive of non-binary genders? I Wish You All the Best follows Ben (who is both non-binary and bisexual) and Nathan (their bisexual love interest). When Ben tells their family that they’re non-binary, they’re forced to move in with their estranged sister or face homelessness. Dealing with anxiety and an unsupportive family, Ben is able to find love and acceptance in its most important form—the kind you give yourself. While many authors now prefer to shy away from coming-out narratives to focus on queer stories that DON’T revolve around gender & sexuality, the non-binary coming out story is almost entirely unprecedented in books and pop-culture… as is the reminder that bisexuals can be non-binary and love non-binary people!

 

Let’s talk about love

 

'Let's Talk About Love' by Claire Kann

 

 

It’s rare to see any media that makes a distinction between romantic and sexual orientation. Since many people have the same romantic and sexual orientation, they may never realize that there can be a difference. Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love is the absolutely adorable story of Alice, a biromantic asexual girl struggling with her college major… and her feelings for Takumi, her cutest coworker at the library. The novel depicts Alice reeling from a breakup with an ex-girlfriend and struggling to cope with her feelings for a male coworker, proving that she isn’t, as the rhetoric commonly goes, ‘choosing sides.’

 

tHE GENTLEMAN’S gUIDE TO viCE & vIRTUE

 

'The Gentleman's Guide to Vice & Virtue' by Mackenzi Lee

 

Anyone who’s ever made the mistake of deep-diving into a YouTube or Facebook comments section has seen a lot of the same negative rhetoric: largely, false accusations that all this ‘gay stuff’ is a development of the past ten years, something done from a desire to gain social media followers rather than, you know, live. This hilarious-yet-poignant historical fiction follows Henry Montague, a bisexual British lord; his aro-ace little sister, Felicity; and his gay best friend, Percy on a caper-filled romp across Europe featuring piracy and a lot of alcohol. Of course, Percy might ALSO be the love of his life… which would be the biggest complication if there weren’t a deranged duke desperately trying to kill them. The novel inserts LGBT+ characters into a historical setting from which they’ve often been erased, and it brings a lot of laughs and heartfelt moments along the way.

 

lOVE IN THE TIME OF glOBAL warming

 

'Love in the Time of Global Warming'

 

Here’s another fact about bisexuals: a bisexual girl dating a man is just as bisexual as she would be dating another woman. This gorgeous, Odyssey-inspired epic follows Pen (bisexual) and Hex (a bisexual trans man) as they approach the outer limits of the romantic relationship they’re clearly hurtling towards. Both feel the need to come out to the other but are afraid to broach the topic of sexuality and gender for fear of driving the other away. Pen’s assertions that her sexuality is real despite not being currently involved with a girl are powerful for any bi reader—and her dreamlike journey through flooded Los Angeles to save her friends from flesh-devouring giants is sure to wow just about anyone, bi or otherwise.

 

Belly Up

 

'Belly Up' Eva Darrows

 

It would be easy to assume that teen pregnancy drama is all played out, but this isn’t an after-school special. Most pregnancy storylines are overwhelmingly heteronormative, and many coming-out moments on TV come with a parental sigh of relief. At least I don’t have to worry about you getting pregnant. But many LGBT+ people can and will become pregnant—and that doesn’t mean their identity is less valid. Belly Up follows bisexual Latinx teen Sara, whose pregnancy is more Juno than Degrassi. With her support system, her demisexual love interest, and her Ivy League dreams, she handles being the new girl in school—the pregnant new girl—with humor and grace.

 

Radio Silence

 

'Radio Silence' Alice Oseman

 

You might think that demisexual Aled Last and bisexual Frances Janvier are going to fall in love. He’s the anonymous mind behind Radio Silence, Frances’ favorite science-fiction podcast. She’s his biggest fan—and soon, she’ll become his co-contributor. But their relationship is more complicated than that: Aled is also brother to Carys Last, Frances’ best friend who ran away from home when they were younger. Frances has never forgotten Carys… and she’s never forgotten the way that Carys made her feel. If this is a love story, it’s a story of deep love between friends as they struggle to navigate academic and personal pressure. The novel may deal with issues of sexuality and depression, but it still crackles with the raw joy of caring for another person, like a sparkler waved in a dark summertime field.

 

They Both Die At The End

 

They Both Die At The End Cover

 

In case you’ve somehow missed out, Adam Silvera is one of the most popular LGBT+ authors in YA fiction today. If you’ve never checked him out, here’s the sign you’ve been looking for. This inventive dystopian novel follows two queer boys of color, one gay and one bisexual, as they open up and fall in love over the course of a day. What could go wrong? Well, they both die at the end. Death-Cast is an organization that lets people know when they’re going to die so that they can live their last day accordingly. With the help of an app called Last Friend, Rufus and Mateo connect for their last chance to imbue their lives with meaning. The novel is a powerful exploration of the role of vulnerability and openness in our lives—and that we need both to live fully.

 

Autoboyography

 

'Autoboyography' Christina Lauren

 

The reality is that coming out can be dangerous—but staying out can be dangerous, too. When out bisexual Tanner moves to Utah, he feels the need to re-closet himself to stay safe in the predominantly-Mormon community. When his last semester of high school ends, he’ll be able to leave Utah and this will all be. Except it’s not over yet: just months from graduation, Tanner meets a boy in his creative writing class. A prodigy with a novel already sold for publication. A devout Mormon. The novel explores the distinction between being comfortable with your identity and feeling safe in the world… and every reader loves a book about books.

 

Lady Midnight

 

Most people already know about Magnus Bane, bisexual warlock, fan-favorite, and early example of LGBT+ representation in YA. But fewer people know about Cassandra Clare’s bisexual representation throughout the canon. In her third trilogy, The Dark Artifices, Clare gives us the bisexual drama we’ve been craving since we read Twilight and realized that a TRUE love triangle needs at least one bisexual in it. Clare gives us more than one: there’s Mark, an odd Shadowhunter boy who’s been living with the Fair Folk; Kieran, a noble fey (also Mark’s ex-boyfriend); and Christina, a strong and empathetic Shadowhunter warrior. It starts off simply enough: Mark falls for Christina. Then Kieran comes back and complicates Mark’s feelings. Then Kieran and Christina get close. Then you go out and buy the book.

 

Honorable mentions:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

The Disasters by M.K. England

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Why are such incredible books in the honorable mentions? Well, because I talk about them too much in other articles! For more LGBT+ book recommendations, check out my list of recent LGBT+ releases, YA LGBT+ genre fiction, and banned LGBT+ classics. You can also check out my feature of LGBT+ YA writers from the Read With Pride panel at BookCon 2019.

 

 

 

 

All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Featured Image Via Adagio.com.

'The Negro Motorists' Green Book'

‘Green Book’ Film Boosts Sales for Old Picture Book

The Academy Award-winning Green Book has certainly been making its fair share of green. The film’s earnings have surpassed $100 million internationally. Why such high earnings? Let’s just say if you’d seen the movie already, you wouldn’t need to ask that question. In addition to an incredible performance from Viggo Mortensen (surely you’ve seen any Lord of the Rings movie) and Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali, the film juxtaposes humor and the weight of America’s bigoted history to tell a deeply nuanced story. Though the film juggles many complex elements—historical context, race relations, interracial power dynamics, and queer sexuality—little ever slips.

While some have raised the question of whether or not the film propagates the white-savior complex, one thing is certain: it also raises awareness of a lesser-known facet of American history.

 

'The Green Book' film artwork
IMAGE VIA THE RINGER

 

Long-standing school curriculums have largely neglected the real ‘green book:’ an African-American motorist’s manual published by Victor Hugo Green for thirty consecutive years, beginning in 1936. The guide enabled travellers to avoid inconvenient or unsafe situations in which they may be refused service; threatened; attacked; or expelled from “sundown towns,” whites-only segregated municipalities. 10,000 such towns existed as late as the 1960s, and, despite stereotypes, these towns weren’t geographically limited to the South. Bronxville, NY and Levittown, NY are just two examples of the many segregated towns above the Mason-Dixon Line.

Safety concerns for African-Americans may be a part of history, but they aren’t a thing of the past. In 2017, the NAACP issued a travel warning for the entire state of Missouri after a series of racially-motivated attacks and alarming new statistics, which revealed African-American motorists were 75% more likely to be stopped and searched throughout the state.

In bringing awareness to this uglier part of America’s history, the film also brought renewed attention to a 2010 children’s book on the same subject: Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin A. Ramsey and Gwen Strauss.

 

 

'Ruth and the Green Book' by Gwen Strauss
IMAGE VIA USA TODAY

 

In November 2018, the month of Green Book‘s theatrical release, Ruth and the Green Book saw a 233% spike in profits compared to the November of the previous year. With the recent awards-season attention to the film, these soaring profits have continued, with a sustained profit increase of over double the amount of the previous year. Publicist Lindsay Matvick explains the phenomenon: “So many people didn’t know about it before the movie came out. That’s why we’re seeing such a spike in sales. People want to talk about it with their children, and this book hits the sweet spot.”

Ramsey, co-author of Ruth and the Green Book, says he wrote the book when it became clear that few people knew about the ‘green book.’ He himself hadn’t known until a funeral for a family friend, during which one mourner said they hadn’t driven such a long distance since a bygone era when the guide was widely used. Though he’s proud to have followed his dream and written this book on the subject, he looks forward to the day when his children’s book won’t be the only one to handle the important topic.

 

Featured Image Via CBS News.

Diverse books for diverse readers

It’s Zero Discrimination Day! Check Out These 10 Diverse New Releases

March 1 is Zero Discrimination Day, and we imagine you have a lot of questions.

What is Zero Discrimination Day? It’s a recurring UNAIDS campaign addressing human rights violations throughout the world. The event calls on countries to address discriminatory laws, particularly those that prevent access to healthcare.

Isn’t every day Zero Discrimination Day if you’re not a total asshole? Yes.

 

"Committing to make our world free of stigma and discrimination is not an option, it's a duty."
Image Via United Nations

 

In honor of Zero Discrimination Day, let’s celebrate these 10 new and upcoming diverse reads across a delightful multitude of genres. Whether they’re non-fiction or fiction, YA or adult, these books delve into the feelings and experiences of people across identifiers of race, sexuality, gender, class, religion, and ability. These are more than just books—they’re stories. And they’re more than just stories—they’re your stories. (Well, hopefully not the one about being a genderqueer werewolf. That werewolf part in particular could come with some serious complications.)

 

THE FEVER KING

 

'The Fever King' Victoria Lee

 

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

 

INTERNMENT

 

Samira Ahmed's 'Internment'

 

Rebellions are built on hope.

Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.

 

WHEN BROOKLYN WAS QUEER

 

'When Brooklyn Was Queer' Hugh Ryan

 

The groundbreaking, never-before-told story of Brooklyn’s vibrant and forgotten queer history, from the mid-1850s up to the present day.

When Brooklyn Was Queer is a groundbreaking exploration of the LGBT history of Brooklyn, from the early days of Walt Whitman in the 1850s up through the women who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II, and beyond. No other book, movie, or exhibition has ever told this sweeping story. Not only has Brooklyn always lived in the shadow of queer Manhattan neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and Harlem, but there has also been a systematic erasure of its queer history—a great forgetting.

Ryan is here to unearth that history for the first time, and show how the formation of Brooklyn is inextricably linked to the stories of the incredible people who created the Brooklyn we know today.

 

UNBECOMING

 

'Unbecoming' by Anuradha Bagwati

 

A raw, unflinching memoir by a former US Marine Captain chronicling her journey from dutiful daughter of immigrants to radical activist effecting historic policy reform.

After a lifetime of buckling to the demands of her strict Indian parents, Anuradha Bhagwati abandons grad school in the Ivy League to join the Marines—the fiercest, most violent, most masculine branch of the military—determined to prove herself there in ways she couldn’t before.

Yet once training begins, Anuradha’s G.I. Jane fantasy is punctured. As a bisexual woman of color in the military, she faces underestimation at every stage, confronting misogyny, racism, sexual violence, and astonishing injustice perpetrated by those in power. Pushing herself beyond her limits, she also wrestles with what drove her to pursue such punishment in the first place.

Once her service concludes in 2004, Anuradha courageously vows to take to task the very leaders and traditions that cast such a dark cloud over her time in the Marines. Her efforts result in historic change, including the lifting of the ban on women from pursuing combat roles in the military.

 

SPEAK NO EVIL

 

'Speak No Evil' by Uzodinma Iweala

 

On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, D.C., he’s a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school. Bound for Harvard in the fall, his prospects are bright. But Niru has a painful secret: he is queer—an abominable sin to his conservative Nigerian parents. No one knows except Meredith, his best friend, the daughter of prominent Washington insiders—and the one person who seems not to judge him.

When his father accidentally discovers Niru is gay, the fallout is brutal and swift. Coping with troubles of her own, however, Meredith finds that she has little left emotionally to offer him. As the two friends struggle to reconcile their desires against the expectations and institutions that seek to define them, they find themselves speeding toward a future more violent and senseless than they can imagine. Neither will escape unscathed.

 

LUBNA AND PEBBLE

 

Lubna & Pebble by Wendy Meddour

 

In an unforgettable story that subtly addresses the refugee crisis, a young girl must decide if friendship means giving up the one item that gives her comfort during a time of utter uncertainty.

Lubna’s best friend is a pebble. Pebble always listens to her stories. Pebble always smiles when she feels scared. But when a lost little boy arrives in the World of Tents, Lubna realizes that he needs Pebble even more than she does.

This emotionally stirring and stunningly illustrated picture book explores one girl’s powerful act of friendship in the midst of an unknown situation.

 

OUT OF SALEM

 

'Out of Salem' by Hal Schrieve

 

When genderqueer fourteen-year-old Z Chilworth wakes from death after a car crash that killed their parents and sisters, they have to adjust quickly to their new status as a zombie. Always a talented witch, Z can now barely perform magic and is rapidly decaying. Faced with rejection from their remaining family members and old friends, Z moves in with Mrs. Dunnigan, an elderly witch, and befriends Aysel, a loud would-be-goth classmate who is, like Z, a loner. As Z struggles to find a way to repair the broken magical seal holding their body together, Aysel fears that her classmates will discover her status as an unregistered werewolf.

When a local psychiatrist is murdered in an apparent werewolf attack, the town of Salem, Oregon, becomes even more hostile to monsters, and Z and Aysel are driven together in an attempt to survive a place where most people wish that neither of them existed.

 

FROM DISABILITY TO DIVERSITY

 

'From Disability to Diversity' by Lynne C. Shea

Colleges and universities are seeing increasing numbers of students with a range of disabilities enrolling in postsecondary education. Many of these disabilities are invisible and, despite their potential for negative impact on students’ academic and social adjustment, some students will choose not to identify as having a disability or request support.

Approaching disability from the perspective of difference, the authors of this new volume offer guidance on creating more inclusive learning environments on campus so that all students–whether or not they have a recognized disability–have the opportunity to succeed. Strategies for supporting students with specific learning disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder or who display learning and behavioral characteristics associated with these profiles are described. A valuable resource for instructors, advisors, academic support personnel, and others who work directly with college students.

A Love Story for Bewildered Girls

 

'A Love Story for Bewildered Girls' by Emma Morgan

 

Grace loves a woman. Annie loves a man. Violet isn’t quite sure. But you’ll love them all…

Grace has what one might call a ‘full and interesting life’ which is code for not married and has no kids. Her life is the envy of her friends, who assume she doesn’t want that kind of commitment. But all this time she has been waiting in secret for a love that will take her breath away, like the way a wave in a rough sea knocks you over…

When Grace meets a beautiful woman at a party, she falls suddenly and desperately in love. At the same party, lawyer Annie finds the man of her dreams – the only man she’s ever met whose table manners are up to her mother’s standards. And across the city, Violet, who is mostly afraid of everything, is making another discovery of her own: that for the first time in her life she has fallen for another girl.

 

 

QUEENIE

 

'Queenie' by Candice Carty-Williams

 

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

LOT: Stories

 

'Lot' by Bryan Washington

 

In the city of Houston – a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America – the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He’s working at his family’s restaurant, weathering his brother’s blows, resenting his older sister’s absence. And discovering he likes boys.

Around him, others live and thrive and die in Houston’s myriad neighborhoods: a young woman whose affair detonates across an apartment complex, a ragtag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, hurricane survivors, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, a reluctant chupacabra.

 

All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Featured Image Via School Library Journal.

Tomi Adeyemi's hit 'Children of Blood and Bone'

Female, Nonbinary Authors of Color Majority of Nebula Award Finalists

The Nebula Awards may honor the most out-of-this-world science fiction and fantasy, but its finalists are highly representative of the diverse world we’re living in. White men may still dominate high school reading lists (and the government, depending on your country of origin), but women and nonbinary authors of color are filling the rosters for one of genre fiction’s most prestigious awards. Chances are, you’ve read some of these. And chances are even higher you’ll love all the ones you haven’t.

 

The Nebula Awards logo

Image Via The Wild Detectives

 

Categories for winners include Best Novel, Novella, Novelette, and Short Story. There’s also a specific prize for YA sci-fi and fantasy: The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Fiction. Since there are fifty nominations in total across each category, let’s focus on the ten nominees for Best Novel and The Andre Norton Award, two categories in which some real some real magic is happening. First, let’s take a minute to reflect on exactly how big a deal these awards are: YA superstars J.K. Rowling (who you know) and Holly Black (who you really should) have both been Nebula Award-winners.

Now that we’ve established the prestige level of this award (to clarify: massively high), let’s consider that, in these two categories, female and nonbinary authors of color comprise fully half of the nominees. In case this actually needs establishing, that’s a massive deal.

Though the other categories don’t boast such incredible statistics, they’re still strikingly diverse. The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation has two particularly high-profile works among its nominees: Janelle Monae‘s album Dirty Computer; Boots Riley‘s film Sorry to Bother You, and Ryan Coogler‘s international sensation Black Panther(This list seems to indicate that including Tessa Thompson will statistically increase your chances of a nomination. Is this true? True enough.)

 

Tessa Thompson in 'Sorry to Bother You'

Image Via Glamour

 

YA has always been a particularly diverse genre, quick to shirk the confines of more traditional literary fiction. As the YA craze reaches a wider audience, it has more people to represent. Let’s just say the genre has risen to the challenge. For example, let’s look at underrated YA romance release Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, depicting the experiences of an asexual and biromantic black teenage girl with a nuanced and thoughtful touch. Many feel that the publishing world’s interest in YA reflects an alarming cultural trend: a departure from the classics and other works of value. But literary fiction is a genre like any other—it’s not a synonym for good. Publishers aren’t the only ones all over YA fiction; readers gravitate towards the books that represent their own experiences.

 

Asexual romance novel 'Let's Talk About Love' by Claire Kann

Image Via Goodreads

 

Diverse YA releases like Tomi Adeyemi‘s Children of Blood and Bone, a fantasy debut inspired by Nigerian mythology, have gotten massive attention—from media coverage to a reported seven-figure book deal. And everybody’s talking about Samira Ahmed‘s upcoming Internment, a dystopian novel in which American Muslims are detained in camps. While many are quick to complain about the market’s saturation with YA genre fiction, readers shouldn’t be so eager to decry its literary value—some of these dystopian worlds no longer come with all the logic of an Internet personality quiz. Instead, these groundbreaking authors are using technology and magic as metaphors to comment upon reality.

 

"Read to Resist" 'Internment' by Samira Ahmed

Image Via Samira Ahmed Twitter

 

YA is growing increasingly diverse from the top down—even lesser-known releases are incorporating richer cultural contexts into their works. An underrated December release, The Disasters by queer author M.K. England, features a world in which space exploration has been driven by African and Middle-Eastern science and technology. It’s all space ships, shenanigans, Muslim calls to prayer, and seriously making sure you’re not wearing a bright turquoise hijab when avoiding interplanetary mercenaries in a crowd! (Looking at you, character-who-will-not-be-named.)

Though many are quick to associate sci-fi in particular with white teen boys thirsting after Princess Leia, these skeptics should maybe slow down with the assumptions.

 

 

Featured Image Via Fierce Reads.