Category Archives: High School

Teens 15-18

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

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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

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

Water Seekers by Michelle Rode

aPrizm Books, 2008

High School

Set thirty some years after a nuclear apocalypse, the unnamed narrator, a young loner who travels from camp to camp in the Southwest desert looking for work in exchange for food, and especially water, has been listening carefully to discussions and rumors of a place in the North called the Great Lakes where water is supposed to be easy to come by. He plans to travel alone to check these rumors out, but is convinced by Zara, an “old one” (someone who remembers life before the disaster) that traveling in a group would be safer. Ultimately a group ranging in age from the very young to Zara’s crazy mother, with varying survival skills, set forth. They encounter storms, bandits, hostile camps, quicksand, illness, and arguments, as they search for something no one is sure exists.

There are a couple of secondary characters who are lesbians.

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

Ash by Malinda Lo

aLittle, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009.

Bisexual – Teen

This is a dark retelling of the Cinderella story. Instead of featuring a kindly fairy-godmother, and a coach made from a pumpkin, and footmen who are mice, there is the kind of fairy usually featured in older fairy tales: one who demands a high price for granting wishes.

Ash, the Cinderella figure, has known a fairy, Sidhean, since the time that her mother died. He has refused to grant her wishes to return her mother to life, or take her to fairy land, where she believes she will find her mother living.

As she grows older, and accepts the death of her mother, she has other wishes, and Sidhean agrees to grant two of them: that she can participate in the King’s hunt, to which she has been invited by the King’s huntress, Kaisa, who she has become friends with after meeting in the woods a number of times; and the traditional Cinderella wish that she can attend the King’s ball.

The price she agrees to pay for these wishes is to belong to Sidhean, to whom she has felt personally drawn. He tells her he will collect his payment at a later date. But it is at the ball that she realizes that she the price to which she has agreed is too high: she finally realizes that it is Kaisa with whom she is in love. Whether or not she can renegotiate a price with Sidhean is questionable, and it is not only her future with Kaisa that hangs in the balance, but her warm friendship with Sidhean.

This book is highly recommended for teens who enjoy fantasy, and for all readers who enjoy reading fairy tale variations.

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 2000s, Bisexual, High School

My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman

aHenry Holt, 2009

Lesbian/Questioning – High School

Sisters Roz and Eva, a year apart, have always been best friends and confidantes, but suddenly Eva is shutting out Roz, their parents, and her best friend Carmen. Roz is hurt and is looking for reasons for this sudden change in her sister.

Both sisters participate in theatre at school, with Eva always winning the main roles. When Roz wins the role of Rosalind in “As You Like It,” she worries that this is the reason Eva is mad.

When she discovers Eva has a lesbian novel hidden under her covers, she guesses that Eva is a lesbian and is afraid of coming out. Always the more gregarious and impetuous, Roz, whose (male) crush is dating Eva, decides that girls could be a possibility in her future, and decides to come out to pave the way for Eva.

Encountering some unexpected homophobia in the form of name-calling and pranks, even from her sister, Roz plows bravely forward with her new “lifestyle,” and strikes back with pranks and attacks of her own.

Mirroring “As You Like It,” Roz and Carmen, and the members of the drama club all seem to be in love with, or have crushes on the wrong people. And as in the play, all is sorted out in the end, with the “real” lesbian(s) standing up, the sisters reunited, and Roz with a surprising new love interest of her own.

Overlooking the annoying cover photo, this was actually an entertaining light read that teens will enjoy.

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

The Blonde of the Joke by Bennett Madison

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HarperTeen, 2009

Gay – High School

Val is one of those students at high school who just blends in. She doesn’t have any particular friends, she skates by with a B+ average though she could do better; her physics teacher can’t even remember her name.

Then Francie joins her class and everything changes. Francie is flamboyant, defiant, she smokes, she’s always late to class, her clothing pushes the dress code: she’s nowhere in Val’s league. But for some reason, she latches onto Val, who is astonished and grateful, and willingly learns to smoke, cut class, and learn the skills of shoplifting from Francie.

Val is even a little bit in love with Francie, although “not in a lesbo way.” Homophobia rears its ugly head in this book, with Val, and her brother’s ex-girlfriend referring to him as a fag, and their mother unable to fully accept him. Fourteen year old Francie sets out to “cure” him by dressing particularly provocatively, and then can’t handle it when she gets attention from a group of construction workers.

Fissures start to edge into the friendship, and it all comes crumbling down one day at the mall as Val and Francie realize that their vows to be there for each other can’t address the real issues each of them is facing. An interesting psychological story of a friendship built on the shaky structure of two girls each needing something that the other ultimately can’t give.

This would be a much better book without the homophobia–or if it was something that the characters worked through.

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