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Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Month: February 2021

New LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads on OverDrive

Look, I get it. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you what books to read. I understand that! There’s a lot of books out there — entirely too many to count — so the intrepid librarians behind our illustrious eBook collection on OverDrive and Libby have undertaken to sort these books into comprehensive, yet easily-digestible lists for your convenience. One such list in the Teen Reading Room is the LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads list, which has recently doubled in size thanks to the efforts of our mystical and talented library gremlins! Make sure to keep checking in as new lists are being worked on all the time.

LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads

This list pulls together a veritable panoply of the best of the best in LGBTIQ+ authors and titles for young adults — that’s you! Here are some of my current faves from this selection:

Overdrive cover We Contain Multitudes, Sarah Henstra (Audiobook)

This beautiful book, told as an epistolary story (through letters and diary entries) is a classic oppposites-attract romance set in a Minnesota high school. You may have to suspend your disbelief a little at the premise of this story (letter-writing pen pals in high school? In 2019? Sure, Jan), but give it some time. The characters are deftly drawn, the storytelling by turns cerebral and intensely emotional, and the language absolutely to die for. Plus it was my sister’s favourite read of 2019. Give it a whirl!

Overdrive cover Lizard Radio, Pat Schmatz (ebook)

I totally dig this oddball dystopian coming-of-age novel (with lizard-people aliens!) wrapped in layers of mysticism, cyber-tech, and explorations of gender identity. Kivali is a “bender,” a young person who doesn’t conform to the extremely rigid gender culture of the all-powerful Gov’s future society, sent to mandatory rewiring in a gruelling CropCamp with other nonconforming teens. From all quarters, Kivali is faced with the question — who are you? — a question she refuses to take at face value, and challenges in different ways throughout the book. A must-read for nonbinary teens everywhere!

Overdrive cover My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen, David Clawson (ebook)

This book is a super sweet modern fairytale — a kind of Cinderella for the modern sensibility. It has its moments of darkness, sure, and like many of the mainstays of queer literature some of its musings on issues of sexuality, family, money and stability, and self-doubt will hit home a little too squarely for some. But where My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen really shines, for me, is in its lighter moments — how a random encounter with a drag queen can sweep joy into your world; how getting swept off your feet by sudden, unexpected romance can feel easier and lighter than breathing. This book is a celebration of all things glitter and warmth, and it invites you to the party every time.

Overdrive cover The Full Spectrum, David Levithan (ebook)

This is a Very Cool and Most Timely collection of poems, essays, and stories written by young adults and teens from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. The writings cover a massive range of topics — coming out, dealing with family (supportive and not so much), navigating friendships that suddenly seem to have taken on a new dynamic, questions of faith and identity, and much more. Plus it’s all been pulled together by none other than the legendary David Levithan, and rad queer poet Billy Merrell, whose 2017 novel Vanilla is also a Must Read for fans of poetry and queerness.

Overdrive cover You Asked for Perfect, Laura Silverman (ebook)

Ya okay so this book is just painfully, beautifully relatable on so many levels. Perfectionist attitude towards school keeping you down in terms of life? Check. So worried about the future that you’re losing your grip on what’s happening right now? Check. Queer and stressed? Yep, that’s one big ol’ checkeroon. But don’t worry friends, all is not lost, because books like this are here to save the day! As the wonderful Bill Konigsberg puts it in his back-cover review, “[the book] hit me straight in the heart.”

Overdrive cover Finding Nevo, Nevo Zisin (ebook)

This powerful autobiography should be a required read for anybody to whom questions of identity are important. I can’t put it any better than the OverDrive description, so let me quote from it: “Meet Nevo: girl, boy, he she, him, her, they, them, daughter, son, teacher, student, friend, gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, homosexual, Jew, dyke, masculine, feminine, androgynous, queer. Nevo was not born in the wrong body. Nevo just wants everyone to catch up with all that Nevo is.” Read it now!

Overdrive cover The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness (ebook)

Patrick Ness’s trademark poetic and slightly oblique style is really brought to bear in this sci-fi deconstruction to end all sci-fi deconstructions. What if something remarkable and improbable is happening in your town (dark and mystical forces colliding; people’s family members disappearing in the woods; extra-terrestrial beings descending from the Great Beyond to wreak terror and destruction, only to be stopped at the last minute by an ordinary teen who just happens to be the only one with the power to stand up to what may or may not be the gods of old made manifest in this realm), but you’re not the Chosen One? You’re just a background character (in most books like this, you’d be among the first to go, possibly before we even got to hear your tragic backstory) and you’d really like it to stay that way. You’re not trying to save the world, you’re just trying to make it through the day without embarrassing yourself too much. This book’s queerness is part of its fabric without being the main focus — you should read it anyway, because it’s Just That Good, Folks.

Overdrive cover The Falling in Love Montage, Ciara Smyth (ebook)

This novel balances tongue-in-cheek witticisms with clear-eyed sincerity in an absolutely gorgeous way. Saoirse, 17, dealing with many issues in her life beyond her recent breakup with her ex, Hannah, meets Ruby, one of the most instantly loveable characters of any in books on this list. Ruby believes in true love, you see, and invites Saoirse to make a rom-com out of their lives together, complete with long, meaningful glances on Ferris wheels, ‘spontaneous’ skinny dipping late at night, and yes, a falling-in-love-montage just like in the movies. Not that the book is all bubbles and soft lens filters, but definitely one to curl up with under the covers, wearing out your face from all the smiling.

Overdrive cover Rainbow Revolutionaries, Sarah Prager (ebook)

The LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads curated list doesn’t just include fiction, but a great amount of nonfiction as well. This is a compelling collection of autobiographies covering the lives and times of 50 very rad and very revolutionary queer people spanning continents and centuries, who have left some indelible mark on culture, society, and what-it-means-to-be-queer-ness at some point in their lives. The people discussed range from the super well-known (the Frida Kahlos, Alan Turings, and Harvey Milks of this world) to the less well-known, at least in Western pop culture (Maryam Molkara, Nzinga, Al-Hakam II, and Tshepo Ricki Kgositau, to name a few), all  accompanied by Sarah Papworth’s striking and energising art and Sarah Prager’s concise and, at times, searing descriptions. 

Overdrive cover Are You Listening?, Tillie Walden (ebook)

I had to end this selection with one of my absolute favourite reads in recent months — Tillie Walden’s atmospheric, surreal, breathtaking ride of a graphic novel in Are You Listening? I don’t want to spoil too much of the story, but prepare yourself for a real emotional rollercoaster, and one of the most arresting and most genuine depictions of a moment of real human connection that I can remember seeing in a book (or anywhere else, for that matter). I read this one in a single sitting, oblivious to the world around me, and to be honest I can’t imagine anyone putting it down before the end. Do yourself a favour and pick this one up as soon as you can — you definitely won’t regret it.

Swoon!

Ok, now that  I’ve got your attention, it’s Valentine’s Day and the hottest romance around at the moment is of course, Bridgerton.  Everybody is talking about it and the series of books by Julia Quinn are flying off the shelves of the libraries quicker than you can say “Your Grace”.

That said, historical romance is so not a new thing, so you can still slake your thirst for handsome, roguish Dukes and feisty society ladies, while thrilling over the latest scandal amongst the ton.  Some of the heroes of which are as appealing as the Duke of Hastings!

Here are some to set your pulses racing:

A spy in the house / Lee, Y. S.
“At a young age, Mary is rescued from the gallows by a woman masquerading as a prison warden. She is taken to Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. The school, Mary learns, is a front for a private investigation agency and, at 17, she is taken on as an agent.” (Catalogue)

 

Lady Helen and the Dark Days pact / Goodman, Alison
“Summer, 1812. After the scandalous events at her presentation ball in London, Lady Helen is training to be a Reclaimer with the covert Dark Days Club. As she struggles to put aside her genteel upbringing and take up the weapons of a warrior, Helen realizes that her mentor, Lord Carlston, is fighting his own inner battle. Has the foul Deceiver energy poisoned his soul, or is something else driving him towards violent bouts of madness? Either way, Helen is desperate to help the man with whom she shares a deep but forbidden connection. When Mr Pike, the hard bureaucratic heart of the Dark Days Club, arrives in Brighton, no one is prepared for the ordinary evil he brings in his wake. He has a secret task for Helen and Mr Hammond, and the authority of the Prince Regent. They have no choice but to do as he orders, knowing that the mission will betray everyone around them and possibly bring about Lord Carlston’s annihilation.” (Catalogue)

A breath of frost / Harvey, Alyxandra
“A breathtaking new series from Alyxandra Harvey about three cousins discovering a secret family legacy, now in paperback. Emma Day and her two cousins, Gretchen and Penelope, are uninterested in their debutante lives. All the boring balls, tiresome curtsying and polite conversation leave much to be desired. Then a girl is found dead, frost clinging to her lifeless body, and the murder is traced to Emma. As their world is turned upside down, Emma discovers more about herself and her cousins, from her connection to the murders to the secrets of her family legacy. Now the girls must embrace their true Lovegrove inheritance in order to stop the chaos, even if that means risking their lives.” (Catalogue)

One fine duke / Bell, Lenora
“Ready: Raised in the countryside by her overprotective uncle, Miss Mina Penny’s dream of a triumphant London season is finally here. She determined her perfect match long ago: Rafe Bentley, the wickedest rake of them all. There’s only one very large, very unyielding obstacle: Rafe’s brother Andrew, the reclusive Duke of Thorndon. Aim: This was supposed to be simple. Duke goes to London. Duke selects suitable bride. Love match Not a chance. But when Andrew meets Mina, she complicates everything. How can a lady armed with such beauty and brains fall for his irresponsible degenerate of a brother Andrew vows to save her from heartbreak and ruin, no matter the cost. Desire: But Mina is no damsel in distress. She’s daring, intuitive, passionate…and halfway to melting Andrew’s cold heart. And although Mina thought she knew exactly what she wanted, one breathtakingly seductive kiss from Andrew changes everything. Now Mina must decide between long-held dreams and dangerous new desires. Could her true destiny lie in the arms of a duke?” (Catalogue)

The luxe / Godbersen, Anna
“Beautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattans social scene, but are soon caught up in a whirlwind of scandal when a family secret threatens their position. This delicious novel is the first of an exciting new trilogy about five compelling teens in 1899 Manhattan, where appearance matters over everything. In Manhattan in 1899, five teens of different social classes lead dangerously scandalous lives, despite the strict rules of society and the best-laid plans of parents and others.” (Catalogue)

And finally, if you loved Bridgerton, I can promise you that you will adore Jane Austen.  Yes I know her books are often set as school reading, I know they’re classics and your Mum probably loves them, but there’s definitely a reason they’ve been so enduring.  They’re brilliantly funny!  They’re exciting!  They’re sexy!  They’re full of feisty heroines, dashing heroes and devious rakes who ruin reputations!  My advice is to start with the OG of Regency fiction, Pride and Prejudice and then maybe move on to Sense and Sensibility   Then you can watch the Ang Lee directed movie with Alan Rickman as the best Colonel Brandon to ever grace the screen.  And when you’re ready to watch Pride and Prejudice, make sure you opt for the BBC series staring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

Go on, have a go at Jane Austen.  I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.

Come to Youth Nights at Waitohi!

They’re fun, we promise! Yes, you heard right — our ever-popular series of after-hours Youth Nights at our Johnsonville Library at Waitohi Community Hub are returning from Saturday the 13th of February, coming off the back of a rather raucous youth sleepover at the library at the end of last year. (What would you do at a library sleepover, you ask? Among Us was played IRL. Bad fanfiction was dramatically read. Too much food was consumed. Entirely too much Cats was watched (ironically or unironically, depending on who you ask.) It was great.)

Sleepovers aside, our Youth Nights are for you if you’re into gaming, making music, watching movies, debating the finer points of costume design in RuPaul’s Drag Race, eating pizza, absolutely smashing Beat Saber on one of our Oculus Rifts, or just generally getting up to Mischief and Hijinks. You will also probably like them if you like books, I guess.

Our Youth Nights are totally free (pizza included!), but you do need to be 13+ in order to come, so please bring your student ID. Once you’re in, our spaces are all yours. Youth Nights are on the first Saturday of every month, from 5.00-8.00pm. Because of the Waitangi Day long weekend, our first one for the year is next Saturday, the 13th of February. See you there!