The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey

Book Description

A heartfelt and timely middle grade story about a transgender boy’s journey toward acceptance and empathy. Perfect for fans of George and Gracefully Grayson.

Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his teammates, to Josh, and to his new crush, Madeline. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I winded up checking this out from the library since it was one that I hadn’t heard of and I was intrigued by the description of the book. Something that I had to keep reminding myself is that this book was written in 2016 so I couldn’t compare it to the things that have come out recently. I was also really glad that this book existed for middle graders but I do think it is written more for people who want to learn about Trans people rather than for Trans people.

While there were a few things in this book that I enjoyed, there were more things that frustrated me about it. One of the things that frustrated me about this book was just how easy it was for Shane to get access to therapy, and then hormone therapy. While I know that this is just one experience of Trans people I felt that this was just the privileged experience because Shane is white and his family is well off.

I also thought that this book had a lot of stereotypical pieces in it, like the mother being the supportive parent and the dad taking longer to come around. There was also the fact that Shane knew he was a boy because he liked stereotypical boy things and not girl things. This was something that was really off to me because we are trying to move away from assigning colors, clothes, toys to gender at this time.

Characters: In this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with the main character, Shane. You get to meet both his mom and dad, his dad’s girlfriend, his best friend, Josh, some other Trans kids, and some of his classmates.

What I did enjoy about this book was the relationships that Shane has with everyone in this book. I really liked the relationship that Shane and Josh have with each other and how supportive Josh is of Shane before and after he finds out that he is Trans.

I also really did like the relationship that Shane has with both of his parents and the way in which this develops over time. I like that we get to see Shane have a conversation with his dad about what being Trans is like for him and how we get to also see the dad have feelings but be reminded that in this situation his feelings aren’t the most important ones. I also liked how the mom was supportive of Shane but I wish she would stand up for him more rather than just take him away from the situation with his dad.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through Shane’s perspective. I liked that the story is told through Shane’s perspective because you get the sense that you are listening to a kid tell you this story. I think because of the way that this is written it would be a good book for children ages 10+ to read and I think its a good way to learn about Trans people. it is important to note though that this is one experience and is not all Trans youth experiences.

Author Description

M.G. Hennessey loves Star Wars, the San Francisco Giants, strawberry ice cream, and dancing. She mentors teens at the Lifeworks program/LA LGBT Center and volunteers as a CASA with L.A. foster kids. She’s also the dean of Camp Transcend Family Camp, and an organizer of the  Gender Odyssey LA conference. A supporter of the Transgender Law Center, Gender Spectrum. and the Human Rights Campaign, she lives in Los Angeles with her family.  She/Her

Sfé R. Monster is a comic artist and illustrator who is deeply invested in the telling of transgender stories, whose own work includes the comic Eth’s Skin and The Beyond Anthology.  Sfé lives on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in Nova Scotia, Canada, and enjoys conspiracy theories, eerie beasts, and folk music.  They/Them

Out of the Blue by Jason June Book Tour Post

Book Description

Out of the Blue by Jason June

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Publishing Date: May 31, 2022

Synopsis:

Crest is not excited to be on their Journey: the monthlong sojourn on land all teen merfolk must undergo. The rules are simple: Help a human within one moon cycle and return to Pacifica to become an Elder–or fail and remain stuck on land forever. Crest is eager to get their Journey over and done with: after all, humans are disgusting. They’ve pollluted the planet so much that there’s a floating island of trash that’s literally the size of a country.

In Los Angeles with a human body and a new name, Crest meets Sean, a human lifeguard whose boyfriend has recently dumped him. Crest agrees to help Sean make his ex jealous and win him back. But as the two spend more time together and Crest’s pespective on humans begins to change, they’ll soon be torn between two worlds. And fake dating just might lead to real feelings…

This sophomore novel from Jason June dives into the many definitions of the world home and shows how love can help us find the truest versions of ourselves. 

Book Links

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Indigo ~ Indiebound

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I really wanted to read this book because the cover looks so cute and the description made it sound appealing. I was so happy to get a chance to be on this book tour so I could read the book in advance but I decided to listen to it on audio.

When I first started listening to this one it reminded me instantly of the Disney movie, Luca just this one is obviously Gay. If you liked that movie then you will certainly enjoy reading this book because Ross’s first moments on land are so similar to Luca’s first moments on land. I love how confused Ross is about so many human things and how we get to see what they think about those things and how they try to make sense of everything.

There are so many moments in this book that I am laughing out loud just like Sean is laughing at Ross. I love how clueless they are but also love how innocent everything is because they don’t know about our world. I like how we get to see everything that we take for granted or things we are so familiar with in a different way because of the way Ross is experiencing our world.

I loved getting a chance to hear Ross and Sean both exploring the city of LA. I felt like they were just in my backyard and they made the city sound so beautiful when its my every day. And then this book sold me with the Grey’s Anatomy quote so you all have to read it to see what I mean.

Characters: In this book, you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with Ross and Sean. You get to meet Sean’s ex-boyfriend, Dominic, some of the people back at Ross’s home, and Sean’s best friend, Kavya.

I really loved learning about Ross and their world. I also loved that Ross is non-binary in the human world and love how we get to see them navigate this when introducing themself to others.

I kept being frustrated with Sean’s obsession with Dominic but I keep remembering that this whole thing is only happening because Ross wants to help him get his ex back. I love the way that Ross makes Sean see things so differently because they are experiencing so much for the first time. I loved the way that their relationship develops throughout the course of the book and how they were instantly friends.

I just really enjoyed how the relationship between Ross and Sean develops. I liked the way this all started and then what it becomes instead for both of them. I just love hearing their feelings for each other when they are in their heads especially since they don’t share their feelings out loud.

Writing Style: This book is written in first person dual point of view going back and forth between Ross and Sean’s perspectives. I liked that this book goes back and forth between both of the boys so that you can see how each of them navigates things. I also like how this back and forth allows you to get to know more about Ross and their world in the chapters told from their perspective.

I liked getting to hear both of their perspectives because it allows us to see how each of them feels about this whole scheme to get Dominic back. I also liked seeing both of their perspectives because it allows us to learn more about Ross’s world in the ocean during his section.

Author Information

You’ve come here wondering, “What is the meaning of life?” Er, I mean, Jason June’s life. Jason June (it’s a two-name first name, like Mary-Kate without the hyphen or the Olsen twin) is a genderqueer writer mermaid who loves to create picture books that mix the flamboyantly whacky with the slightly dark, and young adult contemporary rom-coms full of love and lust and hijinks.

When not writing, JJ zips about Austin, Texas. He loves dinosaurs, unicorns, Pomeranians, and anything magical that takes you to a different world or time. JJ is a tried and true Laura Dern stan, and he is actively looking for an Andalite friend.

​His picture books include WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE, illustrated by Jess Pauwels, and PORCUPINE CUPID, a queer-inclusive Valentine’s Day story, illustrated by Lori Richmond, both from Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster. For under-the-sea whimsical adventures, check out the MERMICORN ISLAND chapter book series from Scholastic! And get ready for JAY’S GAY AGENDA, Jason June’s debut YA, queer rom-com, coming June 1, 2021 from HarperTeen!

Author Links

Website: https://www.heyjasonjune.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/heyjasonjune

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heyjasonjune/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15906433.Jason_June

Tour Schedule

https://tbrandbeyondtours.com/2022/04/23/tour-schedule-out-of-the-blue-by-jason-june/

Kings of B’More by R. Eric Thomas Book Review

Book Description

Two Black, queer best friends face their last day together with an epic journey through Baltimore in this magnetic YA debut by celebrated cultural critic and bestselling Here For It author R. Eric Thomas.

With junior year starting in the fall, Harrison feels like he’s on the precipice of, well, everything. Standardized testing, college, and the terrifying unknowns and looming pressures of adulthood after that–it’s like the future wants to eat him alive. Which is why Harrison is grateful that he and his best friend Linus will face these things together. But at the end of a shift at their summer job, Linus invites Harrison to their special spot overlooking the city to deliver devastating news: he’s moving out of state at the end of the week.

To keep from completely losing it–and partially inspired by a cheesy movie-night pick by his Dad–Harrison plans a send-off � la Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that’s worthy of his favorite person. If they won’t be having all the life-expanding experiences they thought they would, Harrison will squeeze them all into their last day. They end up on a mini road trip, their first Pride, and a rooftop dance party, all while keeping their respective parents, who track them on a family location app, off their trail. Harrison and Linus make a pact to do all the things–big and small–they’ve been too scared to do. But nothing feels scarier than saying goodbye to someone you love.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I was quite pleased when Penguin teen provided me with a copy of this book so that I could provide a review. While I haven’t seen the movie Ferris Bueller, I was intrigued because this book centered around two Queer, Black males, and their friendship which is something that I rarely see in books.

I tend to find Queer books focus so much on the romance that they leave the friendship piece out, or that if there’s another Queer person in the book it’s an automatic relationship so I loved that this book didn’t go that route. Throughout the whole time of reading this book, I was waiting for there to be some romantic gesture made and I just didn’t feel that spark between the two guys so I was happy that they didn’t have any romantic feelings toward each other. I do really love that this book talks about how this is different from a typical friendship and the love that they have for each other that is platonic but still so important and valid.

I love how this book was a take on Ferris Bueller and how the characters point out how different it is because they aren’t white, straight guys. I thought it was important that this was pointed out because some of the events that take place throughout this story are because they are Black, Gay guys.

Characters: In this book, you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with our main character, Harrison. You get to meet his best friend, Linus, his sister Corrine, his parents, and Linus’s dad, as well as some of their friends, Aparna.

I really loved the friendship between Harrison and Linus and how we see it develop throughout this book. I love that we get a chance to see how this friendship started and how they both feel about their friendship. I really enjoyed how they both didn’t have to say anything to just understand each other. This whole friendship reminded me of me and my best friend and how space and time don’t change things for us, it’s more than words can describe but this book put that friendship into words.

I also really enjoyed the relationship that Harrison has with each of his family members and how we see this throughout the book. I like how his parents explain why they are so protective of him and I like how close his sister is with him. I like that we also get to see her being protective of him throughout the book and how she also understands him.

Writing Style: This story is told in the third person through an outside narrator, and you also get some show notes from Aparna that are written in the first person. I really liked getting the chance to see both what Harrison and Linus were up to and what Aparna was getting into to keep their travels a secret.

I loved the pieces that were written by Aparna as I felt like she was the actual narrator for this whole story and she was retelling that day. I know that this isn’t the case but it’s nice to think that she just knows all because it fits her character.

I also really liked that this was told in the third person because we got to see what each person was thinking or what each of them was doing at different moments in time. While the majority of the book was focused on Harrison, you did get glimpses of Linus and his thoughts.

Author Information

R. Eric Thomas is a national bestselling author, playwright, and screenwriter. His books include, Here for It, or How to Save Your Soul in America, which was featured as a Read with Jenna pick on NBC’s Today, Reclaiming Her Time: The Power of Maxine Waters, co-authored with Helena Andrews-Dyer, and the YA novel Kings of B’more. For four years, he wrote “Eric Reads the News” a wildly popular daily humor column covering pop culture and politics on ELLE.com.

He has written on the Peabody Award-winning series Dickinson on AppleTV+ and Better Things on FX. Off the page, Eric is also the long-running host of The Moth StorySlams in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and has been heard multiple times on The Moth Radio Hour, NPR’s All Things Considered and It’s Been A Minute with Sam Sanders. Website: rericthomas.com

June 2022 TBR

There are so many books that I plan on reading through this month for Pride month. I want to get through some of the prompts of Queer Lit Book Club Bingo. I have quite a lot of books that have been sitting on my shelf for quite a while that I am hoping to get through this month. These are the top four of the books that I plan on definitely getting through this month.

Out of the Blue by Jason June

Crest is not excited to be on their Journey: the monthlong sojourn on land all teen merfolk must undergo. The rules are simple: Help a human within one moon cycle and return to Pacifica to become an Elder–or fail and remain stuck on land forever. Crest is eager to get their Journey over and done with: after all, humans are disgusting. They’ve pollluted the planet so much that there’s a floating island of trash that’s literally the size of a country.

In Los Angeles with a human body and a new name, Crest meets Sean, a human lifeguard whose boyfriend has recently dumped him. Crest agrees to help Sean make his ex jealous and win him back. But as the two spend more time together and Crest’s pespective on humans begins to change, they’ll soon be torn between two worlds. And fake dating just might lead to real feelings…

This sophomore novel from Jason June dives into the many definitions of the world home and shows how love can help us find the truest versions of ourselves.

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar , Max Gladstone 

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.

Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war.

Into the Real by Z Brewer

Three Quinns. Three realities. Three Brumes.

The first Brume is a waking nightmare, overrun by literal monsters and cutthroat survivors. For Quinn, who is openly genderqueer, the only silver lining is their friendship with Lia—and the hope that there might still be a safe place somewhere else in the world.

The second Brume is a prison with no bars. Forced to “sort out” their sexuality with other teens at Camp Redemption, Quinn must also figure out why presenting as female has never felt quite right.

The third Brume is a warzone. For Quinn, who presents as male, leading the Resistance against an authoritarian government is hard, since even the Resistance might not accept them if they knew Quinn’s truth.

As Quinn starts to realize that they might be one person alternating among these three worlds and identities, they wonder: Which world is the real one? Or do they all contain some deeper truth?

You can’t run from the monster. The monster is you.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed. 

Guest Post by The Seasonal Pages “5 Wonderful LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels to Read This Summer”

5 Wonderful LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels To Read This Summer

Hello readers of The Unconventional Quirky Bibliophile! I am Isaly, the owner of the stationery store The Seasonal Pages and I am guest blogging to tell you about a few books that I think you will love for this summer season. June is officially here and you know what means, it is PRIDE month. Pride Month is the perfect time to tell you about wonderful LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels to read this summer time. The books listed below are some of my personal favorites and I think you will enjoy them too!

Title: Bingo Love

Author: Tee Franklin

Genre: Romance

Synopsis: “When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage.”

Bingo Love is one of my favorite books to read every couple of years when I am in the mood for romance and a graphic novel. The characters are fun to read and the illustrations captured my art soul so much. You will adore this book with humor and romance. I had to add Bingo Love to this list!

Title: The Prince & The Dressmaker

Author: Jen Wang

Genre: Graphic Novel

Synopsis: “Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!”

This adorable story about a person finding themselves is needed on your next to be read list. Sebastian is a character that you want to learn more about and see what happens at the end, I highly recommend this graphic novel.

Title: You Brought Me The Ocean

Author: Alex Sanchez

Illustrations: Julie Maroh

Genre: Teen & YA Romance Graphic Novel

Synopsis: “Jake Hyde doesn’t swim-not since his father drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which is in the middle of the desert, yet he yearns for the ocean and is determined to leave his hometown for a college on the coast. But his best friend, Maria, wants nothing more than to make a home in the desert, and Jake’s mother encourages him to always play it safe.

Yet there’s nothing “safe” about Jake’s future-not when he’s attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. And certainly not when he secretly applies to Miami University. Jake’s life begins to outpace his small town’s namesake, which doesn’t make it any easier to come out to his mom, or Maria, or the world.

But Jake is full of secrets, including the strange blue markings on his skin that low when in contact with water. What power will he find when he searches for his identity, and will he turn his back to the current or dive head first into the waves?”

Between the ocean theme, the romance and the illustrations — You Brought Me The Ocean will not disappoint. It is a stunning story of self love, romance, and another world. I think that this graphic novel will leave you wanting more from the author and artist. This book introduced me to the author and the artist I have read before, so I recommend her books as well.

Title: The Banks

Author: Roxanne Gay Genre: LGBTQ+ Graphic Novel

Synopsis: “For fifty years the women of the Banks family have been the most successful thieves in Chicago by following one simple rule: never get greedy. But when the youngest Banks stumbles upon the heist of a lifetime, the potential windfall may be enough to bring three generations of thieves together for one incredible score and the chance to avenge a loved one taken too soon.”

Roxanne Gay is an author that I try to read more and more after reading some of her writing recently. I love the way she writes and how she tells such detailed plots that leave you on edge. The Banks is one of her newest books and it is a graphic novel that I think will be great for this spring season. The cover draws you in and the green tone makes you feel like you are going to enjoy a book that is fit for spring time.

Title: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

Author: Mariko Tamaki Genre: LGBTQ+ Graphic Novel

Synopsis: “Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.

Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But

Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever.

Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.”

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is perfect for a fun read that will lighten your mood. I enjoyed this story for the self reflecting and the teen in love trope. I think this book will be a great read for the summer time!

Since it is the beginning of June, I plan on rereading this 5 books for Pride Month and enjoy even more books with a focus on POC LGBTQ+ characters and/or authors. What do you plan on reading in June? Do you have a book that you really want to read for Pride month? Thank you so much for reading about my 5 chosen LGBTQ+ graphic novels that I think you will love during Pride Month. You can find me at The Seasonal Pages Stationery Shop anytime by visiting my website theseasonalpages.com or my Instagram page: instagram.com/theseasonalpages. Happy Reading!

June Wrap-Up

I got to read several great books during the month of June once I just let go of trying to read in a certain manner. I got through most of the books I read this month through audiobooks. Each link will take you to the full review, if there is no link then the review is coming soon. If I happen to persuade you to purchase any of these books you can get them at Eso Won Books.

Layover by David Bell

I like that the pace of this book is very slow and easy to follow along. The narrator was great to listen to and their voice was smooth and easy going. The way that characters were slowly introduced into the story was well done and smooth.

I like how each scene gets its own chapter and there is space to take each of these scenes in. I really enjoy how you can get through the chapters quickly and it makes you feel like you are reading this book quickly. I also like how it transitions smoothly between a chapter of Joshua and Morgan, Joshua on his own, and Kimberly.

I really like how the book goes back and forth between the story from Joshua’s perspective and Kimberly’s perspective. I like how you get to know not just their ties to the story of Morgan but also their lives beyond that. I really enjoy the moment that their two lives get wrapped up with each other because of the mystery. I liked how the two stories came together and the reasons why Kimberly was searching not just for Morgon but also for Joshua now.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

I like how this book handles the topic of HIV and how this book doesn’t dismiss this topic. While this is a lighthearted book it doesn’t dismiss the reality of being HIV positive which is something that I enjoyed. This is a story that shows that HIV+ teenagers can lead happy lives and fulfilling lives without worrying about being treated in a poor matter due to their status. I think that it is important to show these types of stories and show that there is more than one narrative for HIV+ people.

I really enjoy the way this book shows Simone struggling with her queer identity and everything that she feels the need to hide from others. I thought that the way that this was portrayed was done quite well. I like how she thinks about her sexuality and how she doesn’t like not knowing how to define herself. I like how you see her support her friends and being so happy that they have a place that they belong in but wishes that she had the same thing for herself.

I like the way this book openly talks about sex and sexuality, it doesn’t skirt around the topic or make it something that is taboo to talk about. I love how much is in here that can educate teenagers about safe sex and more. There is so much that isn’t taught in a high school health class and it includes things about queer sex.

A Song Below Water by Bethany C Morrow

I really enjoyed all aspects of this book from the themes, characters, writing style, etc. I love fantasy books that mix aspects of our world into their world. Its a great escape while still taking time to reflect on what is brought up in the book. I really enjoy getting a chance to look into the mythology of this book and hearing from the author to learn more.

The ending of this book is a shock and such a twist. I love the way this book reveals Effie and Tavia’s secrets to others and to the reader.

While this book is a fantasy book it still connects to the way that Black people are marginalized and silenced. I like how they discuss the way that sirens are not welcome in their world and how they have been pushed to the side. I also thought it was important to note the way sirens were always Black girls and the silencing of the sirens using silencing collars or other methods.

Panorama by Ross Victory

I think its always great to read memoirs written by people you know and not just famous people you admire. I love how you get to know the person on a deeper level and learn intimate parts of their lives. This was a book that I couldn’t put down once I started reading it.

You know how writing can be a form of therapy for people, this book feels like thats exactly what it was for the author. That was something that I really liked about this book as you can see as the author processes each scene and different events of his life. I like that you can feel a sense of relief at the close of each chapter and there’s a transition to a new event or moment in his life.

Something else I really enjoy about this book is how each chapter gives me a different scene. Each chapter slowly brings me through Ross’s time in Korea as if you are watching this play out in real time. I love the banter between the people who are in the story and the humor that is included throughout the book.

Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock

I read Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness a few years ago and knew that I had to read this one immediately. It has taken me a while to get back to this book but I am so glad that I returned to it. I decided to listen to it on audio while following along with the book and that was a great choice.

Autobiographies as memoirs are something that are a little difficult to review as I don’t want to review someone’s life. I did want to speak about this one though as I think it is something that is so important to read. I learned just as much from this book as I learned from Janet Mock’s other book.

As I listened this book I paused it many times to put a sticky note in the physical book. There were so many important parts shared and so many things to think about.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

This book follows Michael from his childhood up to his life in university. This is a coming of age story of a gay mixed (Jamaican and Greek-Cypriot) Black teenager who is finding who he is and does so through poetry and drag.

It is great that this book starts from Michael’s early childhood years and shows how even then he is trying to figure out who he is. He knows that he would rather play with dolls and kiss the boys and he understands that it makes him different than other boys. His peers then turn against him because they suspect that he is gay and this is the moment in which we first hear him say out loud that he is gay.

We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

I’ve only ever thought of the U.S. as my home. My parents are from Mexico and El Salvador but my mom came here when she was a toddler. My dad remembers El Salvador as he came here when he was older. I read books like this one not only to learn but also to reflect and really think about the privilege that I have being born in the U.S., having parents who speak English, and having parents who became U.S. citizens when I was a kid. I do not know the experience of migrants from any country, I know my parents experience and even that I find limited. The only way for me to learn more is through listening to others and it is important that I stop and listen.

I really enjoy how Pulga, Pequena, and Chico are keeping secrets from each other and their family. What i liked about their secrets is that the same person is at the root of these secrets and all of their problems. Something else that I like about this book is the pacing and how long these days seem. I think that as you read you get a sense of how long this time feels for the characters as they live these things.

I think that it is important that this book shows the reality of immigration and the many challenges that come with it. It was important to see three different scenarios as to what can happen throughout that journey and they included the addition of Pequena being female and what that meant for her. I don’t want to spoil the ending but I felt that so much of that is impactful and important to think about when we hear stories of immigration. I thought it was important that it also relayed the reasons why people were fleeing their countries and what kept them moving forward.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

I listened to this book on audio as I followed along with it through the physical book. I have found this is a better way for me to read and be able to keep up with everything.

I love that you get a scene that is packed with emotions right from the start of the book. I thought that Audre’s feelings as she is taken from Neri and forced to move to the U.S. were raw and real. I think that each scene that is included in this book that is meant to be emotional is realistic and you feel the characters emotions along with them. There is never a moment in which I question how Audre or Mabel are feeling as the author is transparent with the reader regarding their feelings.

I think it was impactful that this book included the complexity of having a relationship with God and being queer. It wasn’t until I started picking up queer books written by people of color that I started seeing the intersection of religion and queerness come into play. I always felt that it was a large piece that was missing in things that I read and I felt that queer people couldn’t have a relationship with God. I always felt that we had to choose one or the other so seeing characters who manage to hold both a religious identity and a queer identity really speaks to me and helps me re-examine my relationship with religion.

Something else that this book touches upon is health and what it means for a high school student to have poor health. I also thought that it was important to include that the doctors didn’t have a definitive answer to what was happening to Mabel. I thought that was a good way to show the disparity in the medical community when it comes to treating Black patients and how often times they are overlooked. I thought that the questioning of this illness and Audre’s thoughts on medicine are included and her distrust of the medical system in the U.S. I thought this was another good way to show the reasoning behind why Black people and other people of color have this distrust of the medical system and where it stems from.