Camp by L. C. Rosen Published: Penguin Random House UK Children’s (May 28th 2020) Genre: young adult; contemporary Rep: gay Jewish mc, half-Korean gay Jewish li, Middle Eastern gay Jewish side character, demi lesbian side character, Afro-Brazilian-American sapphic side character, Black trans side character, nonbinary side character, gay side characters (really, an LGBT cast) Rating: 4/5 🍑
First things first: if you’ve read the blurb and you’re kind of worried about the whole ‘pretending to be someone else to get a boy’ thing – don’t be. It’s handled with so much grace; Randy is being called out on his ridiculous plan by basically anyone who knows about it, constantly. The words “trick him to love you” are used. It’s not a cheap plot device, it’s a driving force of the book and there are countless discussions regarding it.
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar Published: Page Street Kids (May 12th 2020) Genre: young adult; contemporary Rep: Bengali Muslim lesbian mc, Afro-Brazilian Irish bi li, Bengali side characters, Korean side character Tw: homophobia, racism, outing, bullying Rating: 3/5 🍑
If I was to describe The Henna Wars in one word, I would say “comforting”. It’s comforting in a way that it’s a story about a Bengali Muslim lesbian, very clearly not catered towards white audience. The mc’s culture is a central point of the book, it plays a major role and not once is the girl made to feel as if that shouldn’t be the case. Even when facing racism from her pears, she knows it’s them who should change & adapt. I can’t even imagine what a book like this must mean to South Asian readers.
Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye Published: Penguin Random House Children’s UK (May 21st 2020) Genre: young adult; contemporary Rep: mixed-race gay mc, mlm li, gay side character, Indian side character Tw: homophobia, bullying, fights, outing, another very public outing, unsupportive parents Rating: 1/5 🍑
In a word, in a phrase? It’s a preachy bulshit. If you’re looking for a light, cute gay romcom, you should keep looking. This book is not it.
The thing we can all agree on is that stories need angst to actually make sense. You can call it conflict or whatever else, but something in the plot has to stop working for a while, for the whole book to start working in the end. The problem is, the cause for that can’t feel like bordeline tragedy porn, can’t feel like kicking one already down, repeatedly.
That’s what Date Me, Bryson Keller failed to grasp.
In the Role of Brie Hutchens… by Nicole Melleby Published: Algonquin Young Readers (April 21st 2020) Genre: middle grade; contemporary Rep: sapphic (probably lesbian) mc & li Rating: 4/5 🍑
ARC provided by the publisher.
This book was an emotional punch straight to the heart, in all the best (gay) ways. It’s also very clearly an ownvoices story and that truth shines through every page and settles this specific kind of calm over the reader.
The story itself is pretty simple (a teen start figuring out her sexuality & the world doesn’t make it easy for her), but it’s not the dry outline that makes a book, is it? It’s the emotions all the events bring, it’s the character’s journey, her path to growing up & fighting for herself.
Monster of the Week (The Rules #2) by F.T. Lukens Published: Duet Books (October 15th 2019) Genre: young adult; contemporary fantasy Rep: bi mc with anxiety, Latino (half-Puerto Rican) gay li, sapphic side character, Easter European side character TW: panic attacks, absent parent, homophobia Rating: 4/5 🍑
ARC provided by the publisher.
First of all, I have to admit I was not aware this is a second part of series, but even so – it was a pleasant read & I don’t feel like my lack of knowledge diminished it in any way. I probably will read the first book, though, because I love those characters now.
Monster of the Week ticks off all the right boxes for me, so I have to go through them one by one before this turns into a three-page long rambling nonsense.
I changed my theme! How do you guys like it? I’m lowkey in love.
It doesn’t look like my list of November releases is very long but the truth is, those are the books I’ve been waiting for almost all year. So it’s really great that November start in two days, but also: how on earth is it already the end of October? Where did the year go?
Anyway, books-wise, November is shaping up to be pretty amazing! Also, if you want to learn about more LGBT books being published next month, check out our post @ Reads Rainbow.