Book Review | If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl Review Paige's PagesTITLE: If I Was Your Girl
AUTHOR
: Meredith Russo
PUBLISHER
: Flatiron Books
RELEASE DATE
: May 3, 2016
GENRE
: Young Adult Fiction, LGBTQIA
PAGE COUNT
: 280


If I Was Your Girl is a high school romance from the perspective of a transgender girl.  While the writing and plot are forgettable, this novel is necessary because it gives young adult readers of any and all gender identities the chance to read trans experiences in relatable contexts.  Besides the universal struggles of fitting in and finding true friends, If I Was Your Girl portrays a trans girl being the subject of romantic attentiongoing a long way to affirm that trans teens are equally deserving of prom proposals and a magical first kiss.  

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Double Review | More Happy Than Not / History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

More Happy Than Not (2015) and History Is All You Left Me (2017) by gay YA author, Adam Silvera, are a perfect pair.  Featuring realistic gay protagonists, they confront themes crucial to older YA readers including identity, sexuality, love, and loss.  Silvera’s representation of mental illness is unflinchingly honest and raw.  I may not be able to bid you “happy reading”, but I hope you will find Silvera’s writing as powerful as I did.

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Book Review | Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

simon-vs-the-homo-sapiens-agenda-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
AUTHOR: Becky Albertalli
PUBLISHER: Penguin
RELEASE DATE: April 7, 2015
GENRE: Young Adult Fiction, LGBTQIA
PAGE COUNT: 320


With surprising heart, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda teaches that everyone’s journey is valid and private.  I grew invested in characters who represented many aspects of my  teen experience, and taught me empathy for experiences beyond my own.   

Until recently, Simon’s secret was safe with his online pen-pal, Blue.  But when his classmate blackmails him with screenshots revealing he’s gay, falling in love with Blue over email gets a whole lot more complicated.
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Book Review | Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out edited by Susan Kuklin

beyond-magenta-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
EDITOR & PHOTOGRAPHER: Susan Kuklin
PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press
RELEASE DATE: February 11, 2014
GENRE: Young Adult Nonfiction, LGBTQIA
PAGE COUNT: 192


Through six short memoirs transcribed from interviews, Beyond Magenta explores what it’s like to come of age as a trans-spectrum teen.  A crucial lesson this book teaches is to see gender and sexuality as something with infinite colourful shades.  To really know someone’s story, you have to be humble and open-hearted enough to listen to them tell it in their own words.
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Book Review | Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation edited by Kate Bornstein & S. Bear Bergman

gender-outlaws-the-next-generation-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation
EDITORS: Kate Bornstein & S. Bear Bergman
PUBLISHER: Seal Press
RELEASE DATE: August 21, 2010
GENRE: Nonfiction, Memoir, LGBTQI+
PAGE COUNT: 304


The second gender-bending anthology edited by Kate Bornstein brings together an extraordinary range of trans-spectrum creators.  This book celebrates diverse LGBTQI+ experiences, while encouraging readers to take a long, hard look at their society’s gender laws.  

Instead of looking to the binaries for answers – male/female, femininity/masculinity, sex/gender – I’ve decided to take my body back for myself – for me to shape, show off, love and dress and play.  But above all, for me to name – Transliteration by Francisco Fernández

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Book Review | George by Alex Gino

george-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: George
AUTHOR: Alex Gino
PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press
RELEASE DATE: August 25, 2015
GENRE: Junior Fiction, LGBTQI+
PAGE COUNT: 195


You may be surprised to hear that a children’s book would be my pick above many of the LGBTQI+ books written for adults.  Why?  George’s representation of a transgender child captures the feeling of being “born this way”.  It talks about gender in a way that young readers can understand, and which also has the power to educate adults.  

Fourth-grader, George, is determined to be Charlotte in the class production of Charlotte’s Web.  This is the chance she’s been waiting for to tell the world she’s a girl.  But when the teachers refuse to even let her audition for a girl’s role, her flamboyant best friend Kelly comes up with a daring plan to make George’s dreams comes true. Continue reading

Book Review | The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

the-art-of-being-normal-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: The Art of Being Normal
AUTHOR: Lisa Williamson
PUBLISHER: David Fickling Books
RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2015
GENRE: Young Adult Fiction, LGBTQI+
PAGE COUNT: 353


Is “normal” worth changing for?  Through its split narrative style, The Art of Being Normal explores the universal themes of identity and self-acceptance from the perspective of transgender teens.  

Only David’s best friends know she’s a girl.  She’s pretty happy with life at the moment, if only she weren’t so nervous about coming out to her parents.  When the new kid defends her from a bully, David is determined to get to the bottom of his mysterious past.  But Leo is a tough nut to crack.

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Book Review | Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East by Benjamin Law

gaysia-review-paiges-pageTITLE: Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East
AUTHOR: Benjamin Law
PUBLISHER: Black Inc.
RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2012
GENRE: Nonfiction, LGBTQI+, Own Voices
PAGE COUNT: 288


Who better to talk about LGBTQI+ life in Asia than Benjamin Law?  Openly gay and born in Australia to Chinese immigrant parents, he approaches Gaysia with concern and respect… not to mention the perfect dose of comedy.  

Gaysia is a journalistic adventure into the LGBTQI+ nerve centre of Asia, from “clothing optional” gay resorts in Bali, to the homes of Chinese gays and lesbians who fake heternormative marriages to keep their identities secret.  Law opened my eyes to a diverse range of socio-political landscapes, all posing unique challenges to the LGBTQI+ community.

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Book Review | For Today I Am A Boy by Kim Fu

for-today-i-am-a-boy-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: For Today I Am A Boy
AUTHOR: Kim Fu
PUBLISHER: Random House
RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2014
GENRE: Adult Fiction, LGBTQI+
PAGE COUNT: 241


For Today I Am A Boy is a no holds barred exploration of transgenderism against a backdrop of traditional Chinese culture.  This is the rawest and most confronting LGBTQI+ story I’ve read.  

From childhood, American-born Peter Huang knows she is a girl, but is too ashamed to tell her family.  Over the course of decades, Peter and her sisters drift from the lives their traditionalist parents planned for them.  Only after suffering silently through an abusive relationship, workplace bullying, and indoctrination from a Christian “ex-lesbian”, does Peter rethink her relationship with family and self.   Continue reading