5 Books for World Pride in Toronto

June 23, 2014 | Winona

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Happy Pride Week Toronto! 

Toronto's annual Pride Week is one of the largest festivals in the world (1.2 million people last year!) to celebrate diverse sexual and gender identities and the proud history - and future - of Toronto's LGBTQ+* communities. This year, the world is coming to Toronto for WorldPride 2014 from June 20-29, the first time the international festival has been held in North America.  

To celebrate World Pride in Toronto, and to show solidarity and support for LGBTQ+ youth in our city, I offer you these five books that feature both LGBTQ+ teens and the city of Toronto. 

*LGBTQ+ is short for: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, queer, questioning, two-spirited, asexual, and allies.


The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson

The Chaos by Nalo HopkinsonToronto sixteen-year-old Scotch may have to acknowledge her own limitations and come to terms with her mixed Jamaican, white, and black heritage if she is to stop the Chaos that has claimed her brother and made much of the world crazy. (Publisher's description.)


"This is all so nuts. On the way over here, while my mom's car stopped at a red light, I saw a tiny cow with wings. It flew over our car and pooped right on the windshield. Then this little thing that looked like Tinker Bell, only with fangs, flew down, scooped the poop up, and flew around throwing it at people's heads and laughing an insane little Tinker Bell laugh."



Gravity by Leanne Lieberman

Gravity by Leanne LiebermanIs there any room in Orthodox Judaism for a distinctly unorthodox Jewish teenager? Ellie Gold has always embraced her faith - at least untill she meets Lindsay. Faced with denying her sexuality or abandoning her community, Ellie looks to her mother, sister, and grandmother to guide her, but in the end, her decisions are all her own. (Publisher's description.)


"I can hear endless cars and trucks whizzing by on Eglinton Avenue. Weeds push up through the walkway to our house; a small spindly tree wilts on our square plot of lawn. The heat rises thick and squalid with Toronto summer pollution. I get up and step into the shade of the front porch and settle into an old tan wicker chair, picking at the loose strands on the armrest. Only one more hour, and I'm done with the city for the summer.

I'm leaving asphalt, concrete and traffic. I'm leaving polyester school skirts stained with sweat from sitting on vinyl seats. It's the summer of 1987. I'm fifteen and I'm leaving Torah and Mishna classes for trees, the lake and the blue blue sky."



Money Boy by Paul Yee

Money Boy by Paul YeeIt's bad enough fitting in as a young Chinese immigrant in a new country. But what happens when your father finds out you're gay and kicks you out of the house? How tough can life be on the street? Ray Liu is about to find out... (Publisher's description.)


"I get off at Wellesley Station. This summer, our Chinese TV reporters came here for the Gay Pride festival. A long escalator lifts me slowly to the street. I don't know this part of the city and don't know where to go. But Ba kicked me out for being gay, so here I am."

See the book trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzC6DXes7zQ

TEEN FICTION print | ebook


Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Skim by Mariko and Jillian TamakiSkim is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls' school. When her classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself because he was (maybe) gay, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. It's a weird time to fall in love, but that's what happens to Skim when she starts meeting secretly with her neo-hippie English teacher, Ms. Archer. When Ms. Archer abruptly leaves the school, Skim has to cope with her confusion and isolation. Her best friend, Lisa, tries to pull her into "real" life by setting up a hilarious double-date for the school's semi formal, and Skim finds an unexpected ally in Katie. (Publisher's description.)


"Dear Diary

I think there are a lot of ways to be marked.

If you are ugly, like Natasha Cake who has no eyebrows and doesn't wash her hair, then you are marked to be treated like crap for life.

I have eyebrows and wash but I think I am also marked to some degree (biologically) as a weirdo for life. (Mom says that there is nothing about my appearance that I don't contribute to with my habits.)

People can also mark you. Scott Bouffant marked me in grade nine with a disgusting hickey that didn't go away for a week.

Me = slut for a whole week.

(He never even called me afterwards because I wouldn't give him a handjob - BECAUSE I'D JUST MET HIM!!!)

Lisa's mother got drunk once and told us that all relationships leave a scar. Lisa said her mother was talking about VD ( = Venereal Disease - I had to look it up). Lisa said you could have a VD and not even know it.

I think everything you do and everything people do to you leaves a mark, or at least it affects who you are."

See a six-page excerpt that includes illustrations at: http://www.jilliantamaki.com/sectionimages/wicca.html



When We Were Good by Suzanne Sutherland

When We Were Good by Suzanne SutherlandThe year 2000 isn't starting out too well for Toronto high school senior Katherine Boatman. Not only has her oldest friend ditched her for yet another boyfriend, her beloved grandmother died on New Year's Eve leaving a void of goodness in her life that Katherine's not sure how to fill. While overwhelmed with sadness and self-doubt, Katherine unexpectedly finds new love, both for Toronto's underground music scene and for her would-be saviour: a straight edge, loud mouth misfit named Marie. As Katherine seeks comfort in jagged guitars, mind-reading poets, and honest conversations, she struggles to figure out not only what she and Marie might mean to each other, but also what it truly means to be good. (Publisher's description.)


"I watched the CN Tower poke out of the tops of the buildings and skeletal trees that lined the side of the Viaduct. I noticed my breath fog the air in front of my face. I counted footprints in the snow in the Don Valley beneath me. And I stopped in the middle, with my hands braced on the stony barrier. And I pictured my body falling. The blast of air and the soft thud. I considered where to aim - the frozen river, or the Don Valley Parkway a hundred paces or so west. I breathed slowly and closed my eyes. I counted backwards from ten. I tried hard to get Grandma's face out of my mind, but I found myself thinking of Mackenzie King, the red bill.

I counted down again, from twenty this time. I imagined nothingness. Nothingness looked a lot like the Reverb the night Marie and I showed up before the crowd. I counted fifteen, fourteen, and kept breathing. I thought of Marie up on the stage, bending down to kiss me. Eleven, ten. I pictured us holding hands walking down the hall. Five, four. People laughing at us, shoving us, calling us names. My parents, crying, yelling. Two, one."


RainbowFlagSee more great LGBTQ+ teen reads here

Happy Pride everyone!