Bibliographic information: Gemini Bites. Patrick Ryan. Scholastic Press, 2011. $17.99. 240p. ISBN-13: 9780545221283.
Summary: Kyle and Judy are twins, who do not get along. Judy is always trying to win against Kyle. It is a large household and takes a lot to get some attention. Kyle has just told his family he is gay. To his relief, the family accepts it and moments later are distracted. Not to be one-upped by Kyle, a few days later Judy tells her family she is born-again and has found God. However, she is met with the same reaction that Kyle got. Later, over dinner, their father tells everyone that they are having a mysterious guest stay with them until the end of the school year. The mysterious guest is a boy, Garret Johnson, from Kyle and Judy’s class, but nobody knows much about him. Kyle gains information from a fellow student who says Garret is a vampire. After moving in, Garret plays on the vampire thing saying he really is one and gradually he starts to take an interest in both Kyle and Judy. Both intrigued by this, they start to compete for his affections.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 14 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Gemini Bites is a delightful story of sixteen-year-old twins of a family of nine, Judy and Kyle, tend to compete over anything and everything. Kyle is gay, but Judy is born-again. And their newest competition, Garret Johnson, is…a vampire? After moving into their attic, claiming to be a vampire, Garret starts to take an interest in both Judy and Kyle. They can’t figure out whether he is gay, straight, into twins, or if he really is a vampire, but they compete for him anyhow. This book is written so that every chapter alternates between Kyle and Judy in the first person. All of the characters in this book have their own unique personalities that make them easy to remember. Teenagers will have an easy time relating to the language. This is a wonderful story with a twist at the end that may just surprise you. Covering a variety of problems teens may face in life, this book illustrates how you may get through them.
Readers’ annotation: A mysterious character takes up residence in Kyle and Judy’s home claiming to be a vampire, all the while leading them both on. Gay, straight, twinsexual, or vampire? Which one is Garret Johnson?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book encourages teen to be proud of who they are and their sexuality. They do not need to hide behind facades to be excepted by their parents and friends. And they should not hide who they are.
Issues present: Not only is there a couple of gay boys in this book, but one of them claims to be a vampire. People may object to these two things thinking they are wrong and possibly too frightening for children to handle. However, we should be able to encourage children to be who they are and not balk at their sexuality. Also, supernatural monsters in books help children fight their fears in a safe way.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce the twins and Garret’s characters.
Gay, straight, twinsexual, or vampire?
Genre or subject: GLBTQ, twins, relationships
Readalikes: Boy Meets Boy, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Totally Joe, Boyfriends with Girlfriends, Rainbow Boys
Author’s website: N/A
Awards: Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Debut Fiction Nomination, Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult Nomination
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Gemini-Bites-Patrick-Ryan/pid=4491838; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-19814097900108.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-545-22128-3; Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/patrick-ryan/gemini-bites/
Why I chose it: This book had a different way of introducing gays into the book and Ryan threw in a popular topic by using vampires to twist up the story a bit. I couldn’t hold back from reading it.
Bibliographic information: Kissing Kate. Lauren Myracle. Speak, 2003. $7.99. 198p. ISBN-13: 9780329588694.
Summary: Lissa and Kate were best friends, they understood each other, until that night at the party. Kate was drinking a lot, but Lissa was 100 percent sober and they started discussing what it would be like to kiss another girl. So, Kate decided to kiss Lissa and Lissa kissed Kate back. That is when their friendship ended. Lissa actually liked kissing Kate, but Kate didn’t even want to talk about it because she was too afraid of what other people would think of her. So, Lissa gave Kate her space and tried to move on. A new girl started at her job, and it just happened to be the annoyingly cheerful outsider from school, and no matter how hard Lissa tried to stay away from her, the girl was too persistent and before she knew it, Lissa had a new friend. One who was helping her through her struggles and hard time, she was there to help Lissa sort out her emotions and feelings towards Kate.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Myracle is known for her controversial materials that tend to make the most challenged books list, but all of her novels are fabulous and Kissing Kate is one of them. This is a story of the relationship between two best friends that went horribly awry after they kissed at a party. Lissa is going through a tough time trying to deal with being a lesbian and losing her best friend at the same time. Myracle does a great job of portraying the struggles that young gay, lesbian, and bisexual go through at school and at home. Even Kate doesn’t want to admit she is a lesbian or at least bisexual because people will think differently of her. Lissa manages to find an unexpected friend who understands her and her differences. This book just goes to show you that sometimes people you never thought could be your friend can and sometimes those you think are your friend are not. This is a wonderful book for young adults who are also struggling to fit in when they feel so much more different from others. There is nothing wrong with any of the sexual orientations you may choose. Some of the more conservative parents may not appreciate the positive views Myracle puts on lesbian relationships, even though it shouldn’t matter who you love.
Readers’ annotation: It all changed the night she kissed her, and liked it. How will Lissa deal with her new-found ideals?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Many teens are struggling to understand their feelings and sexual preferences. Kissing Kate is a great example to show teens that they are not alone with their struggles. It happens more often than they may think. Myracle writes true honest stories that teens can relate to. This book will give them a sense of peace and help them discover who they are and want to be and let them know that they should not be afraid to be who they are.
Issues present: This title portrays lesbianism as positive. Many people do not see lesbianism as positive and will object to this title, but they should understand that there is nothing wrong with being a lesbian and everybody should be allowed to be who they are without conflict. This book gives lesbians hope and lets them know that they can express themselves without being ridiculed. One’s sexuality is not a choice, it is a part of who they were born.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Lissa and Kate’s characters.
She kissed her. That’s how it all ended. – go dramatic.
Genre or subject: Realistic Fiction: GLBTQ, love, relationships
Readalikes: Annie on my Mind, Boy Meets Boy, Alex Sanchez novels, David Levithan novels
Author’s website: http://laurenmyracle.com
Awards: YALSA Best Books for Young Adults Award winner (2004), Recommended Reads for Tweens (2003)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Kissing-Kate-Lauren-Myracle/pid=310226; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-525-46917-9; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-1021815.xml
Why I chose it: I had heard a lot of controversy over Lauren Myracle’s novels in another class and wanted to read one but couldn’t get myself to read one of her text message or IM titles, so I chose this one and it seemed pretty interesting. Turned out to be really good.
Bibliographic information: Evil?. Timothy Carter. Flux, 2009. $9.99. 256p. ISBN-13: 9780738715391.
Summary: Stuart already didn’t fit in very well in his small religious town because he is gay. Well, somehow he managed to make himself even more of an outcast and create a riot among the town. Stuart was taking a shower, the best time to do his business because you can wash everything right down the drain, no mess to clean up. He was about done when his younger brother walks into the bathroom and sees him going at it, right int he middle of his self-gratification. Yep, that’s embarrassing. What Stuart didn’t anticipate was his little brother ratting him out at church during discussion. For some reason, suddenly, it is the greatest sin to commit, the Sin of Onan, and he is the only one who doesn’t see the problem with. Really, it’s his body, he can do whatever he wants with it, right? It’s not like he was hurting himself, quite the opposite. But it’s turns out to be not alright, so Stuart decides to summon a demon, Fon Pyre, to help him out. He discover that the new scripture teacher, who just happens to be a fallen angel, is the culprit behind the chaos.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Hilarious and diabolical, this story takes religion, gay relationships and self-pleasure to a whole new level. Stuart is gay, but the church can accept that. However, when his younger brother catches him committing the Sin of Onan, masturbation, things turn disastrous and pretty soon the town is rioting. Apparently it is not okay to take part in the act of self-pleasure, it is the greatest sin and oddly, Stuart is the only one who doesn’t seem to think so. Now things start to get interesting. Stuart summons a demon for help, discovers a fallen angel is the culprit behind everybody being against pleasing yourself, and learns of the impending doom of a horde of demons ready to be let loose to terrorize the town. Carter makes a satire out of the fear of all things sexual and provides the reader with a new view to think about, as well as, a new set of vocabulary, all related to masturbation, sure to create loads of entertainment for teen readers. Carter does a great job of showing how some people go a little overboard when it comes to things that are natural and healthy to do.
Readers’ annotation: Who ever thought the act of self pleasure would set an entire town against you and unleash a horde of demons? Stuart never thought so, but he couldn’t be more wrong.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Some teens may grow up in a home that is heavily religious or just strict and they are told they should never touch themselves because it is bad or that it is a sin. This humorous book will give guidance to these teens and let them know that it is okay to explore your own body and that you should feel comfortable with yourself.
Issues present: There is masturbation and a gay teenager. Some people will object to these things, they have in the past. People who practice Christianity tend to believe that self pleasure is a sin and you should not take part in such actions. But it is important that all teens know that masturbation is a perfectly healthy, natural and acceptable act. We should not discourage our children from exploring their own bodies so that they may understand their bodies better and perhaps refrain from acting out through other means by getting it all out of their systems themselves. Also, ones sexuality is a part of who they are and should not be frowned upon.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Stuarts character.
Fallen angels, hordes of demons, and one gay, self pleasing guy named Stuart.
Genre or subject: Fantasy: angels, demons, sexuality, religion
Readalikes: Other Timothy Carter novels, The Prophecy, Good Omens, Repossessed
Author’s website: http://timothycarterworld.com/
Awards: Rainbow List Award for Young Adult Fiction (2010)
Reviews: Kirkus Review: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/timothy-carter/evil-3/; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7387-1539-1
Why I chose it: Carter is a great author and captures the personality of a teen boy quite well. This book has a couple controversial topics and thought I should include it.
Bibliographic information: Boyfriends with Girlfriends. Alex Sanchez. Simon & Schuster, 2011. $16.99. 217p. ISBN-13: 9781416937739.
Summary: Lance is searching for a new boyfriend online. He found this guy who seems like he will be perfect, his name is Sergio. Lance, and his best friend Allie, are going to meet Sergio at the mall, and Lance is beyond nervous and excited at the same time. And on the Sergio’s side he is also beyond nervous, especially after just getting over a terrible break-up with his girlfriend. He is bring his best friend Kimiko along for moral support. When Lance and Sergio meet they hit it off and plan for another date this coming weekend. Allie and Kimiko also hit it off and plan to hang out. Allie can’t quite explain it but she feels something when she is around Kimiko. Lance discovers that Sergio is bisexual and has a hard time understanding how that can be. Sergio doesn’t want to feel pinned down into another relationship and keeps an open book. Allie realizes that she really likes Kimiko and may be a lesbian. And Kimiko really likes Allie, but can’t understand why she would like her. And this leads to one great big drama mess that ultimately works out in the end.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: 12 and up
Review: This is one of the first books I have stumbled across that covers all angles of sexuality. A lot of books have one or the other, but this book has gay, bisexual, lesbian and straight characters. This novel has a lot of ups and downs, struggles and hardships that people face every day, but don’t always like to talk about. A beautiful story that should be read by all so that they might better understand what some people struggle with, if they don’t already know. Sometimes it is hard to understand the feelings that other people have and this book does a great job of talking about those feelings. Four people with four different sexual orientations are able to become friends and come to understand each other after they are able to talk about their feelings and differences. This shows you that talking about how you feel is very important.
Readers’ annotation: Four people, four desires. What paths will they decide?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This is an excellent novel for GLBTQ teens who are having a hard time understanding their feelings and need something that can give them some perspective on the subject. This book shows young adults that is a good idea to talk about their feelings with friends and family so they may better understand who they are and what they are feeling.
Issues present: This book has GLBTQ content that could be considered objectionable, but it is a great source for teen struggling with their sexual and gender identities. People have a right to choose how they want to live their lives and most of the time it is not even a choice, it is just who they are and they should be respected for who they are.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce characters – Lance is gay. Sergio is bisexual. Kimiko is a lesbian. And Allie is undecided at the moment, but she is leaning towards lesbian.
Genre or subject: Realistic Fiction: GLBTQ, relationships, love
Readalikes: Other Alex Sanchez novels, Boy Meets Boy, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Totally Joe, Kissing Kate
Author’s website: http://www.alexsanchez.com/
Awards: American Library Assn “Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers”, American Library Assn “Rainbow List”, Bankstreet College of Education Children’s Book Committee (2012) Best Children’s Books of the Year, Lambda Literary Award (2011) Finalist
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Boyfriends-with-Girlfriends-Alex-Sanchez/pid=4566932; Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/alex-sanchez/boyfriends-girlfriends/
Why I chose it: Sanchez is a great go to author when you want a good GLBTQ novel. I saw this one on a presentation in another class and thought I would read it.
Bibliographic information: Ironman. Chris Crutcher. Greenwillow Books, 1995. $8.99. 279p. ISBN-13: 9780060598402.
Summary: Bo is a triathlete who can’t seem to hold his anger in check, especially when it comes to his father. After one too many outburst while he is training hard to compete in the Yukon Jack Ironman Triathlon, he is forced to take an anger management class to help get his act together. While at the class he writes letters to Larry King and meets a new teacher and other classmates who help and support him in training for the up coming triathlon.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: 14 and up
Review: Written in a unique way that catches the reader’s attention this book is told mainly through the letters written to Larry King, the CNN talk-showman, the rest is written in a thirst person narrative that is traditional to a Crutcher novel. Crutcher does a great job on building his characters throughout the story, especially Bo who learns how to control his anger and makes new unexpected friends. Although Crutcher touches on some sensitive topics he handles them well and writes with feeling that will reach out to struggling teens in similar situations. A must read for all young adults.
Readers’ annotation: Will Bo be able to get his act together in time for the big triathlon?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This would be a great book for children who have anger issues, especially with their parents. It will show them how they can work out their anger in a proper way. It is also a great source for children who are struggling with their feelings on homosexuality because Crutcher does a wonderful job on putting the issue out there and making it seem like no big deal while he explains the situation. Lastly, it has great motivation for someone who is interested in sports or training.
Issues present: There is violence, child abuse, divorce, homosexuality, adoption and pornographic writing. However, these are all real issues that occur to children everyday, everywhere. Having a good book to read about the situations will help the child cope and understand their situation better.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Bo’s character.
Passages from pages 248-249 will show Bo’s character and who he has become.
Pg 259 – the second full paragraph and the one preceding show the excitement of the Ironman race.
Genre or subject: realistic fiction: Sports, child abuse, GLBTQ, and anger/violence
Readalikes: Other Crutcher novels, Murdock books, Leverage, Raiders Night.
Author’s website: http://www.chriscrutcher.com/
Awards: Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (1996); Best Books for Young Adults (1996)
Reviews: School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-47185392235748.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-688-13503-4
Why I chose it: I liked the idea that the book takes place in Spokane, Washington where I live. I always like to see how the author portrays my hometown.
Bibliographic information: Will Grayson, Will Grayson. John Green and David Levithan. Speak, 2010. $17.99. 310p. ISBN-13: 978-0525421580.
Summary: Two boys with the same name are leading two different lives. One is best friends with Tiny Cooper, the biggest, most eccentric gay person around, and follows two simple rules: 1. Don’t care too much, 2. Shut up. These rules cause him to not be able to decide whether he likes Jane or not. The other Will is a loner who is chronically depressed and has a secret internet love, Isaac, that nobody knows about. He finally decides to meet Isaac in downtown Chicago where he instead runs into Will Grayson and their lives start to overlap with one another into the greatest high school musical in history.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 14 and up; IL: 12 and up
Review: Beautifully written from the view-points of each Will Grayson interchangeably from chapter to chapter. Each Will Grayson is his own character but their just happen to fall into one another. Green and Levithan have created a witty and humorous story that is sure to touch the hearts of their readers. They have produced wonderful characters that grow and learn throughout the tale. A fabulous set of back-up characters adds to the story and gives body to the plot. It turns out that Will Grayson, Will Grayson is not just about Will Graysons, but centers around Tiny Cooper who will uplift the readers spirits and make them want to break out in song and dance, because he’s just that kind of guy.
Readers’ annotation: Same name, chance meeting, an unlikely place… Will Grayson meets Will Grayson, and the course of their lives change.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This is a wonderful book for GLBTQ persons. It is uplifting and lays positive light on the GLBTQ community. It shows that it is okay to who you are and you do not have to be embarrassed or ashamed of who you are. Every teenager goes through ups and downs when it comes to love, but sometimes you just have to go for it and chance the outcome. Sometimes there are good ones and sometimes there are bad ones, but at least you took a chance and tried something new. This books sends these messages.
Issues present: This book has GLBTQ materials as well as vulgar language that may be objectionable by adults. However, it could lend a helpful hand to some children who are experiencing pain from being a GLBTQ person. This book would show them that it is okay to be the way they are and there is nothing wrong with their choices. It paints a positive picture for gays and shows the ups and downs of love that every teen experiences. You can’t stop children from reading something that is true to reality.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce both Will Grayson in a compare and contrast.
Pg 22. first three sentences and last paragraph on pg 23 that ends on pg 24. – describes character well.
Pg 3. first two paragraphs – introduces Will and Tiny
Genre or subject: realistic fiction: GLBTQ, musical, humor, love relationships
Readalikes: Boy Meets Boy, Boyfriends with Girlfriends, Rainbow Boys, Kissing Kate, Alex Sanchez books, Gemini Bites
Author’s website: Levithan: http://www.davidlevithan.com; Green: http://www.sparksflyup.com & http://nerdfighters.com
Awards: Romantic Times (RT) Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Novel (2010), Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production Honor (2011), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2010), Children’s Choice Book Award for Teen Choice Book of the Year (2011), YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011) YALSA Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults (2011), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2013), Stonewall Award Honor Book (2011)
Reviews: School Library Journal: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6722896.html ; Booklist Review: http://www.booklistonline.com/Will-Grayson-Will-Grayson-/pid=4235778
Why I chose it: I had heard about Will Grayson in my LIBR 265 class and was told that it was really good, especially the audio book, so I decided I would add it to my list. Unfortunately my library does not have the audio book, so I had to stick with reading it, but it was still quite good.
Bibliographic information: Boy Meets Boy. David Levithan. Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. $8.99. 185p. ISBN-13: 9780375832994.
Summary: Paul’s school is unlike any other. His best friend since kindergarten, Joni, is dating a new guy that puts a strain on their relationship. His other best friend cannot leave his home unless it is with a girl. Kyle, Paul’s ex-boyfriend suddenly becomes too friendly. And Rip, the school bookie, is placing bets on who Paul will end up with. Things are not looking good for Paul. But the biggest distraction is Noah, who changes everything in Paul’s life.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: 8th grade and up
Review: Cleverly written in the first person point of view by Paul, the protagonist of this story, Boy meets boy is a wonderful book about being comfortable with who you are, just the way you are. Paul brings the story of his life to the forefront and carries the reader through with humor and poise. It has great character development because you get to see Paul and his friends grow into young adults and discover who they are on the inside and out. The text flows and grabs your attention making it hard to put the book down. The positive influence will speak to young readers who are facing similar choices and situations about their identities and gender.
Readers’ annotation: Paul has a dilemma. A new boy moved into town, his best friend is not speaking to him, his other friend is on house arrest, and his ex-boyfriend has had a change of heart.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This is a great book that expresses the positive side of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and queers. It shows that some parents are loving and accepting of their children’s choices while other parents are in a bit of denial, but they are all working through their feelings in hopes of a positive outcome. It shows that no matter what choices you make their will be some road blocks, but you will be able to overcome them. Teens can read this book and feel good about their sexual identities and genders.
Issues present: There are persons of every sexual orientation and gender in this book and some parent may not like their teen reading a book that makes these out to be a positive thing. However, every person has a choice to like and dislike whomever they choose. Sometimes a child feels like they are different from everybody else just because they might like somebody of the same-sex, or maybe people of both sexes, and that shouldn’t matter. Books like Boyfriends with girlfriends are great examples that will give that child confidence in their identities and gender even if they are not getting it from their friends and family. Perhaps the parent should even read the book so that they may understand where their child is coming from.
Booktalk ideas: The start of page 8 where it describes Paul finding out that he is gay at age 5.
On page 3 when Paul first meets Noah, “I look up. And there he is.”
Talk about the variety of Paul’s friends, one is gay, one is bi, one is a drag queen, one is a lesbian, one is a bookie, one is straight, etc.
Genre or subject: GLBTQ; coming of age or Bildungsromans
Readalikes: Boyfriends with Girlfriends or anything by Alex Sanchez; Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle; John Green books.
Awards and Lists: Lamba Literary Foundation Award (2003); ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2004); Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2008).
Links to reviews: Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-375-82400-5
Why I chose it: Based on the back of the cover it looked like it would be an entertaining book that had great growth as well as humorous. The writing style seems like it would be fun and intelligent at the same time. These are all things that tend to interest me in a book.