A New Generation of LGBT YA

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April is LGBT-month with LauraPlusBooks and FightingDreamer. Although I am studying VERY HARD (I really am), I wanted to get this post in really quickly. I realised a while ago that I haven’t read that many LGBT books. I’ve read quite a few where a secondary character is LGBT (The Mortal Instruments, Mara Dyer, etc) and quite a few short-story collections, like Yes, I am! and OMG QUEER. Then there was Every Day (which is kind of, I don’t know, pansexual?) and Luna.

Recently I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. It was incredible (not quite a five-star read, due to some issues I have with the final bit of the book) and while reading I kept thinking how this narrative felt to me like a revolution not only in LGBT writing, but YA in general.

 

I don’t want to say too much and risk spoilers, because it’s so easy to ruin awesome parts of the book. Essentially, Ari and Dante begin a strange friendship one summer. They are both loners and a little different. They talk about books and poetry (FTW!) and their difficulties in navigating family life as teenagers. They are both Mexican-American, and the book also addresses their accompanying identity issues.

What I’m trying to illustrate is that there is more than LGBT to this book. Our lives do not revolve only around our sexual orientations, and Aristotle and Dante is a beautiful example thereof. Some of the most beautiful parts of this book have less EXCLUSIVE relevance to LGBT-life and more relevance to life in general, regardless of sexual orientation.

I’m going to make that an extended metaphor and say that it goes to show how we are NOT all that different. Our orientations and races and histories may be different, but that our lives are multifaceted and complex and bear relevance to one another’s: that is not different. That’s just my musing and I’m sure some might take offense to it, but I think that is a piece to the puzzle of acceptance.

There is a place for coming-out stories. There is a place for the sturm und drang of accepting and being accepted. But there is also a place for the kind of story that Ari and Dante have, and that is more than a coming-out story. (You should read this post by author Kelley York about why she doesn’t usually write coming-out stories.)

In the end, Ari and Dante’s identities form a big part of the book: their sexual identities, but also their identities in relation to one another, their families and their society. And that is something beautiful.

ari and dante

 

(On the book itself: I thought it had great character development and beautiful writing. Sometimes I wondered about the dialogue being a bit far-fetched, but I can’t honestly say that it bothered me all that much.)

Ten Things That Should Be Written About

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This post is scheduled a few weeks in advance as I am currently on a rural rotation without decent internet access. Responses to comments will thus be slower than usual. This week with The Broke and The Bookish we discuss our “reading wishlist” – in other words, things we wish authors would write about. Guys, this one was HARD! Obviously I did not want to give away anything that I might be working on (sorry)… I finally came up with some. They’re not all super unique, but I would like these books anyway. So if you want to write them, go for it!

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Madiba and the Child

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We were on holiday when the news about Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela broke late Thursday evening. With little to no internet, WordPress was not an option (if you don’t blog it, did it really happen?), but the past few days have been a period of introspection for the whole of South Africa. It has been years since I tried my hand at writing verse. It follows below.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea

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I grew up by the ocean. Feeling the sand under my nails and scrabbling as the water tried to swallow my sandcastles was second nature to me. In the late summer months, after-school activities meant going to the beach. I am glad I have never had to live inland, but I am convinced that my first year at university was so difficult because I was thirty minutes from the nearest beach with no transport to get there. These days I spend every weekend by the sea with The Boy, and recently I spent almost four months living on the sea. So, love is not the right word for how I feel about the sea. It is more like, LIFE. Here are just a few of my favourite “sea” pictures.

Linking up with Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge

P.S: click here for some photo’s of Cape Town seas during the Super Moon – it is not called the Cape of Storms for nothing!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sailing to the Future

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This week’s weekly photo challenge with The Daily Post looks to the future. In my immediate future is touching on home base! In fact, right now we are sailing past the East Coast of South Africa, and just a few hours I was giddily staring at the lights of Durban’s coastline. I even have cell phone reception! But it is night time, so I do not have a decent photo to offer of that, at this point.

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TTT Freebie: Everybody Loves Quotes

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Happy Christmas! I have just had a delicious Christmas lunch with the family, and I feel incredibly blessed. Life is good. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and The Bookish is a freebie, so that those who are too busy celebrating aren’t left out. I wouldn’t have posted this if not for the post-lunch lull. I’ve done a Top Ten Quotes before, but here are ten excellent quotes from books I read in 2012.

1q84 quote

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Book Review: The Karma Suture

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Sue Carey is a driven, 20-something doctor struggling to preserve her sanity, sobriety, and humanity in the corridors of one of Cape Town’s biggest public hospitals. Finding imaginative ways of saving patients is her life’s work, though finding a man who wants more than a one-night stand would be nice as well.

Guys… This book blew my mind. It is actually set in the hospital where I’m training – with a different name, though. Unless it has two names, which is possible.

Do you know how freaky-cool it is to read a book that coincides so well with your own experiences? Well, it is freaky-cool.

Dr Carey is a Registrar (a.k.a. Resident) in Internal Medicine. She has an Intern who is a little annoying and medical students who have learned how to get away with doing as little as possible (she teaches them with passion, though).

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TTT: Starstruck Author Groupie

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Earlier this year, at the Cape Town Book Fair, I met Robin Malan. Malan is a South African author and editor and one of my idols. He edited most of the English Alives in which I have published, and he was co-editor of Yes, I am! Writing by South African Gay Men

So anways, I admire him and I was at the the stall of Junkets Publishers (which he owns) when I saw him. In the flesh. And, so excited that I didn’t realise I was nervous, I  said hi and started gushing about his work and English Alive. When the poor man finally got a word in sideways he smiled and asked, “So what is your name?” Mortifying. Who speaks to an author (or anyone for that matter) without introducing themselves? Oops.

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