In recent years, young adult (YA) lesbian and gay fiction has begun to proliferate. It is exciting to see so many new writers emerge and to read stories about the diverse experiences of young queer people. This month we will review two books that target young people who may be queer or questioning.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
This compelling novel by Emily M. Danforth captivates the reader from the onset: “The afternoon my parents died, I was out shoplifting with Irene Klauson.” A relatable young character growing up in small town Montana, Cameron struggles to accept her sexual identity. The book explores her relationships with her female and male friends as well as the sexual tensions that arise within them. It also focuses on her time at a sexual reeducation school, where Danforth deftly critiques the purpose of these schools. Overall, Cameron’s story is heart-warming, funny, and sad. It is a book that explores internalized homophobia and the ultimate freedom one finds when one accepts oneself. It rightfully earned its place as a finalist for the William C. Morris Debut Award by the American Library Association.
This collection of short stories by Julie Anne Peters captures many moments in a young queer person’s life. From understanding gender ambiguity to attending a gay straight alliance for the first time, Peters offers glimpses into the varied experiences and rites of passage of queer youth. For example, the story “Stone Cold Butch” revolves around a character, Cam, shaving her head: “Now, I’d look completely butch. Because I was—strong, powerful, and defiant.” Peters has also penned numerous novels including Define Normal, Keeping You a Secret, Between Mom and Jo, Far from Xanadu, and Luna (National Book Award Finalist).
These are just two authors of many whose writings you may want to explore. Happy Reading!
For the past twelve years, Robin Petrovic has been teaching English Composition, Literature, and Gender & Women Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she infuses Queer Theory into all of her courses. In 2011, Petrovic co-founded Gay4Good: Chicago, an inclusive LGBT volunteer organization that donates its time to social welfare and environmental service projects. As the literature blogger for IntraSpectrum Counseling, she reviews a variety of LGBTQ texts, so readers can easily find materials that match their interests and needs.