Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Harlequin Teen, 2012.

Chelsea Knot is one of the popular girls, based almost solely on the basis of her friendship with queen bee, Kristen, who manipulates her, and everyone around her to get what she wants. Most of their time together is spent putting other people down, shopping, and gossiping about boys.

Chelsea is also known for her inability to keep a secret, unless she can blackmail someone for something better than the thrill of spilling the latest gossip. When she finds out that Tessa is sneaking around with her best friend, Megan’s boyfriend, and has pictures to prove it, Kristen convinces her not to share the photos if Tessa will get them two fake IDs.

So far, there is nothing likeable about Chelsea – and it’s all about to go downhill at a New Year’s party at Kristen’s. Drunk, and in desperate need of a bathroom, Chelsea stumbles into a bedroom where she discovers two boys making love. With the best secret of the year in her grasp, Chelsea blurts out the details to everyone within hearing range. Kristen, her boyfriend Warren, and others react in horror, disgust and anger, and Warren and his sidekick Joey follow the two boys out the door, saying they’re just going to teach them a lesson.

When she finds out from Kristen, the next morning, that Noah, one of the two gay teens, is in the hospital, Chelsea accedes to Kristen’s threat not to say anything to anyone.

Surprisingly, her conscience gets the better of her, and she confesses everything to her parents, and makes a statement to the police.

She then takes a vow of silence.

Returning to school, Chelsea finds that all of her friends have turned against her, and she is treated to verbal and physical abuse and harassment that the school administration manages to remain ignorant of. Given detention every day by her English teacher for not participating in class, Chelsea makes a new friend, who draws her into a new circle of people who are respectful of her silence.

These new relationships are not uncomplicated – they all know what she did, and one of the teens in this group is Noah’s boyfriend, who is furious and resents her presence in his life.

What Chelsea learns about herself through her silence, and through her new friendships is what makes this book worth reading, and not simply another story of a gay-bashing.

 

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 2010s, Gay, High School, Middle School

Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend by Carrie Jones

a

Llewellyn Publications/Flux 2007.

Gay – T

Belle had expected to marry her high school boyfriend, Dylan, after college, so she is devastated when he comes out to her. However, she soon starts dating someone else, and even manages to be there as a friend to Dylan, despite her anger.

Jones has nothing new to offer with this well-worn plot theme.  Low recommend.

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Filed under ** Low recommend, 2000s, Gay, High School

Pink! by Lynne Rickards

aThe Chicken House, 2009

Gender-conformity concerns – Infant-Preschool

Patrick the penguin is horrified to wake up pink one morning. Boys can’t be pink! He will be teased at school! This is the end of the world!

Patrick’s parents reassure him that it’s okay to be different, and his father pulls out a book of birds of the world to show him photographs of flamingos, half of whom are definitely boys.

But after a few days of misery, Patrick packs his knapsack, and tells his parents he’s going to Africa where he will fit in better with the flamingo flocks. To his dismay, while the flamingos are friendly, he doesn’t fit it there either. He can’t fish like they do, and he can’t fly like they do. And the water is awfully warm for a penguin.

When he returns home, he is welcomed by friends, classmates, and family alike, and gives a presentation in class about everything he learned about flamingos.

Maybe being a pink penguin isn’t the end of the world after all.

This is a great book to use with children about feeling comfortable about their differences, and also to potentially explore gender issues with.

Also available in Spanish: ¡Pink! El pingüino que se volvió rosa.  Trapella Books, 2010.

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 2000s, Gender-conformity concerns, Infant - Preschool, Soldier Girls and Dancing Boys

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah Brannen

Putnam, 2008.  a

Gay – Infant-Preschool

Guinea pigs Chloe and her Uncle Bobby are best buddies. They do everything together. When Chloe learns that Uncle Bobby will be marrying his friend Jamie, she worries she will be left out in the cold. After a talk with Uncle Bobby she feels reassured, and even grows to appreciate Jamie.

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 2000s, Gay, Infant - Preschool

Rage – A Love Story by Julie Anne Peters

aKnopf, 2009

Lesbian – High School

Johanna has been nursing a wild crush on Reeve, who she scarcely knows. She grasps at the opportunity to make a place in Reeve’s life for herself, even as Reeve pushes her away, and as her friends, and ex-lovers of Reeve’s warn her that she’s getting into trouble. Reeve lives in a home permeated with violence, drug and alcohol abuse. She struggles to survive and protect her brother Robbie, who is perhaps autistic. She can’t risk letting anyone get close to her, and violence is the only way she knows to push people away. Johanna, however, keeps coming back for more, in a pattern that becomes almost impossible to be willing to break.

Teens will find themselves deeply engaged in this very well-written book which deals realistically with the difficult issues raised; however, it is disappointing to read yet another LGBT novel that is so filled with pain and violence and hopeless relationships.

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Filed under *** A good read, 2000s, High School, Lesbian

“The Secret of Life According to Aunt Gladys” by Bruce Coville

In Dirty Laundry: Stories About Family Secrets, edited by Lisa Rowe Faustino.  New York: Vikilaunng, 1998.   

Transgender – Middle School/High School

Randy discovers he has an uncle whom the family doesn’t talk about. He discovers why when George arrives for an unexpected visit, planning to stay while he transitions to Gladys.  Randy’s parents struggle to accept Gladys, but Randy is open-minded about his aunt-to-be.

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 1990s, Middle School, Soldier Girls and Dancing Boys

Sexile/Sexilio by Jaime Cortez

[Los Angeles]:  Institute for Gay Men’s Health, c2004.

Gay/Transgender – Adult/Teen interest

This bi-lingual graphic novel tells the story of a Cuban exile who first thinks he’s gay, then realizes he’s really transgender.

Some “mature” content.

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Filed under *** A good read, 2000s, Adult, Gay, Sexually Explicit, Soldier Girls and Dancing Boys