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Love Is Love: LGBTQ+ Valentine's Stories

February 11, 2017 | Alice | Comments (0)

Not every love story is a boy-meets-girl love story. Looking for a different pair of protagonists in your Valentine's read? Try one of these picks:

Ash, by Malinda Lo

You think you know this story, but you’re wrong. Her name isn’t Cinderella, it’s Ash. And he isn’t just a prince, he’s a fairy prince. He and his kind are hunted by the King’s Huntress. When Ash and the Huntress meet in the woods, the two become friends, even though Ash hides the truth about her prince. Given the option to leave behind the horrible life she’s known, to live in the beautiful fairy Realm, what will Ash choose? The fairy prince who loves her, or the woman she is falling for?
Recommended for fans of fantasy, fairy tales, or The Wild Hunt.
Orientations/identities represented: lesbian.

Place a hold on Ash or read the ebook!

Continue reading "Love Is Love: LGBTQ+ Valentine's Stories " »

Teen Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

February 8, 2017 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0)

Review by Fariha, with "thanks a lot to HBG Canada for providing an ARC to read and review!"
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Tragic kind of wonderfulA Tragic Kind of Wonderful follows Mel, a 16-year-old who is dealing with bipolar disorder. The novel explores how the mental illness affects her life and her experiences and her relationships.

I read this book right after reading History Is All You Left Me and I couldn’t ignore how similar the two novels are. They both contain peeks into the past as we get to see what happened before the books started, both explore mental illnesses (that perhaps don’t get as much recognition. Bipolar Disorder and OCD are not talked about or explored as much as some others, such as depression and anxiety), a lot of characters aren’t straight, and both main characters deal with losing a loved one. However, they’re both so incredibly different at the same time, in atmosphere and characters and how the story progresses.

Continue reading "Teen Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful" »

Teen Review - History Is All You Left Me

January 17, 2017 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0)

Review by Fariha, with thanks to "Helena at TPL for sending the ARC my way!"

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Rating: 4/5 stars

History is all you left me coverHistory Is All You Left Me follows Griffin as he mourns and tries to come to terms with the death of one of his best friends and his first love. There is guilt and the complex relationships at play, as well as the memories and the things left unsaid.

I read History Is All You Left Me for two weeks and a couple days. As a voracious reader, it is unlikely that I take even a week to read a single book and yet, I read this book over a long period of time and I think I enjoyed it more for it. I feel so connected to the story as it has been actively taking up a part of my mind for the better part of a month and this story is one that will stay with me for a long while yet.

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Weekly Program Roundup August 29 - September 3

August 28, 2016 | stephen | Comments (0)

Time to spice up our last week of summer programming with some music and dancing! Check out what's on this week at the library:


Zumba for Teens

Tuesday August 30, 2016 | 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Location: Malvern

Funky Latin rhythms mixed with easy to follow moves create a dynamic dance program that will blow you away. Teens will learn the basics of zumba in this introductory class. Drop-in. Ages 13-19.

Continue reading "Weekly Program Roundup August 29 - September 3" »

YA Materials and LGBTQ issues

July 26, 2016 | Cameron | Comments (0)

Honorgil 1. Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash
Maggie Thrash has spent basically every summer of her fifteen-year-old life at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the heart of Appalachia. She's from Atlanta, she's never kissed a guy, she's into Backstreet Boys in a really deep way, and her long summer days are full of a pleasant, peaceful nothing . . . until one confounding moment. A split-second of innocent physical contact pulls Maggie into a gut-twisting love for an older, wiser, and most surprising of all (at least to Maggie), female counselor named Erin. But Camp Bellflower is an impossible place for a girl to fall in love with another girl, and Maggie's savant-like proficiency at the camp's rifle range is the only thing keeping her heart from exploding. When it seems as if Erin maybe feels the same way about Maggie, it's too much for both Maggie and Camp Bellflower to handle, let alone to understand

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Whats On @ the library July 25th - 31st

July 25, 2016 | Cameron | Comments (0)

Events_programsWant to know what is going on at the Toronto Public Library for teens this week: Check out the listing of programs below that cover programs and events from July 25th to July 31st.


Continue reading "Whats On @ the library July 25th - 31st " »

The Young Elites by Marie Lu : Review

July 23, 2016 | Christine | Comments (0)

By Fariha 

The Young Elites by Marie Lu Cover Image

*spoilers about personalities of characters


I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.
It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

No way could I pass up a novel that had that quote on the inside cover. Fantasy is my favourite genre and dark fantasy is even better. It also helps that I have a soft spot for Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy. (This one was even better than the trilogy though!)

 Sorry, always sorry. What in the world can you buy with an apology?

I had a love-hate relationship with Adelina, the protagonist, throughout the novel. Adelina is infuriating, enticing, dark, beautiful, and arrogant. She is ambitious as heck and lusts after power. I often found her interesting and her mind fascinating but she also managed to get on my nerves and sometimes I wanted to bash my head with the hardcover as she made stupid impulsive decisions.

 So. Tell me, little wolf. Do you want to punish those who have wronged you?

Enzo is alright I guess. I mean he’s cool and stuff. He didn’t stand out to me though, just another character who, had he not been one of the main characters, I wouldn’t have paid any attention to. I am much more enthralled by his sister, however. They remind me a lot of each other but she is sharper than a blade and ruthless and cunning and nothing is “going too far” if it achieves what she desires.

 Everyone has darkness inside them, however hidden.

I feel the same way about Raffaele. He’s good enough but that doesn’t make him memorable and doesn’t peak my interest.

 I am a deformed creature.

I have a lot of empathy for Teren. I don’t like him nor do I agree with him but I can understand him. It will make sense when you read the book but his case reminds me a lot about internalised homophobia/transphobia in people part of the LGBT+ community; where you being you is a sin and unnatural because that’s what people around you think. I have a whole lot of compassion for someone who goes through that or something similar, like Teren.

 There are four places where the spirits still wander . . .
the snow-covered Dark of Night, the forgotten paradise of
Sobri Elan, the Glass Pillars of Dumon, and the human mind,
that eternally mysterious realm where ghosts shall forever walk.

—An Exploration of Ancient and Modern Myths, by Mordove Senia

One of my favourite aspects of the novel was the quote above each of the chapters. Sometimes they just provide background information about a later event but they can be pleasantly lyrical, dark or clever at times.

It is pointless to believe what you see, if you only see what you believe. —“The Admiral,” from The Requiem of Gods Vol. XI, translated by Chevalle

As much as I loved this book, I’m afraid I couldn’t get through Rose Society. It was probably the reading slump I was in when I attempted to read it rather than the actual novel, though, so I’ll be sure to give it another chance before I attempt at the final novel of this trilogy this fall!

This book is available in regular print, as well as in Audiobook, eAudiobook, and eBook formats.

YA Literature & Strong Women

July 8, 2016 | Christine | Comments (0)

Who do admire in your life? Is it someone you know personally? Maybe someone famous from the past? Or is it a character from a book that you love to read from cover to cover every chance you get?

I really enjoy reading about people with lots of personal strength, especially strong female protagonists, and have always admired characters like Jo March, Nimona, and Laureth.  These characters seem able to exist beyond the confines of their stories, and are the types who go off into their respective worlds with such passion that their personalities just leap off of each and every page. They are the kinds of people that I would love to meet in the real world, and believe that everyone should try to be just as daring and as brave as they are. So, if you are looking for some other strong women to admire, both real and fictional, then be sure to check out the following seven books from our 100 Summer Reads list at the library this summer.

Lumberjanes created by Noelle Stevenson Cover Image1. Lumberjanes created by Noelle Stevenson -- Friendship to the max! At Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's camp for hardcore lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together-- and they're not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! This entire comic book series is also available online as eBooks.

Ms Marvel by G. Willow Wilson Cover Image2. Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson -- Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City -- until she's suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she's comin' for you, New York! 

Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz Cover Image3. Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz -- Like all A-Z books, this one illustrates the alphabet-but instead of "A is for Apple", A is for Angela-as in Angela Davis , the iconic political activist. B is for Billie Jean King , who shattered the glass ceiling of sports; C is for Carol Burnett , who defied assumptions about women in comedy; D is for Dolores Huerta , who organized farmworkers; and E is for Ella Baker , who mentored Dr. Martin Luther King and helped shape the Civil Rights Movement. And the list of great women continues, spanning several centuries, multiple professions, and 26 diverse individuals. There are artists and abolitionists, scientists and suffragettes, rock stars and rabble-rousers, and agents of change of all kinds.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson Cover Image4. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson -- For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid's life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl. This graphic novel is also available as an eBook.

  Rookie Yearbook Four edited by Tavi Gevinson Cover Image
5. Rookie Yearbook Four edited by Tavi Gevinson -- Rookie Yearbook Four takes a good look at topics such as friendship, crushes, speaking out, taking action, and learning about yourself. Our senior year is full of beautiful art and photographs, playlists, DIY tutorials, advice ranging from how to get over trauma to how to write a college admissions essay.

 Step Aside Pops by Kate Beaton Cover Image6. Step Aside, Pops: a Hark, a Vagrant Collection by Kate Beaton -- Ida B. Wells, the Black Prince, and Benito Juárez burst off the pages of Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection, armed with modern-sounding quips and amusingly on-point repartee. Kate Beaton's second Drawn+Quarterly book brings her hysterically funny gaze to bear on these and even more historical, literary, and contemporary figures. Irreverently funny and carefully researched, no target is safe from Beaton's incisive wit in these satirical strips. 

This Side of Home by Renee Watson Cover Image

7. This Side of Home by Renee Watson -- Twins Nikki and Maya Younger always agreed on most things, but as they head into their senior year they react differently to the gentrification of their Portland, Oregon, neighborhood and the new--white--family that moves in after their best friend and her mother are evicted. This book is also available as an eBook.

Poems by Jayden

July 7, 2016 | stephen | Comments (0)

Written by Jayden 

Book Title Poetry

When we were Matched, and our paths Crossed, dreams and goals were Reached, forWhen You Reach Me, you bring happiness and joy.

And though my grand scheme had Holes, you were there, and taught me to take Small Steps.

Continue reading "Poems by Jayden" »

What's on at the Library -- June 27 - July 3

June 30, 2016 | Christine | Comments (0)

Hi everyone!

Happy early Canada Day! I hope you're all enjoying your summer vacations so far. :)

Here are some more great programs for youth that you can take advantage of this summer at your local branch of the Toronto Public Library this coming long weekend:

  1. 3D Printer Certification -- Thursday June 30, various times
    (please click on branch names for details)
    St. James Town, Scarborough Civic Centre, & North York Central Library
    Staff members show participants how to use the 3D printers available at Toronto Public Library Digital Innovation Hubs. Class instruction includes:
    * How to prepare a 3D design file for print
    * How to use the equipment properly and safely
    * A review of the rules and guidelines for using the 3D printer

  2. Pride Creative Writing Workshop with YA Author Robin Stevenson
    Thursday June 30, 5 - 7:45pm

    Lillian H. Smith, ROOM B/C - Lower Level
    Flannery O'Connor once said that anybody who had survived childhood had enough material to write for the rest of his or her life. Our own life experiences can be powerful jumping off places for crafting fiction - in fact, many novels have their beginnings in specific events in the author's own life. In this hands-on workshop, we'll explore how we can use our own memories, experience, questions and curiosity to create convincing characters and compelling stories. Drop-in, no registration required, TEEN and YOUNG ADULT program! Ages 13-29

  3. Call of Gamerz: Teen Video Game Nights-- Thursday June 30, 6:15 - 7:45 pm
    Join Malvern's Youth Advisory Group for a night of fun and video games including games for Wii, PS3 and XBox 360. No registration required, just drop in and get your game on!

  4. Adults' Chess Club -- Saturday July 2, 1 - 2:30pm
    Play casual chess for ages 13 years and up.

  5. Storygami -- Saturday July 2, 2 - 4pm
    Lillian H. Smith
    Join us for origami, featuring new & wild folds each session. No experience is necessary to participate and have fun. We partner with the UofT Origami Club F.O.L.D. - Fly with Origami, Learn to Dream. This drop-in program takes place every first Saturday of the month.

  6. Saturday Movie & Popcorn -- Saturday July 2, 2-3pm
    Highland Creek
    Come and join us on Saturday afternoons. The movies are great for the whole family and the popcorn is free.

  7. Keep Calm & Colour On -- Saturday July 2, 2 - 3:30pm
    Colour your cares away while you enjoy the latest craze of adult colouring. Materials will be provided, or bring your own. No registration required!

  8. My Home Is... Spoken Word/Poetry Workshop -- Saturday July 2, 1 - 4pm
    Dawes Road Meeting Room
    Join Slam Coach Cathy Petch for a guided freewrite on themes of home, place and transition. Be brave, be bold, be you. For adults and youth. In association with East End Arts. Contact the branch for details.

Hope to see you all there!

What's On at the Library- June 20-25th

June 20, 2016 | Monica | Comments (0)

Hi All! Looking for some fun and exciting things to do this summer? Keep any eye on the TPL Teens Summer Edition page all summer long, as we got you covered on the events taking place at the Toronto Pubic Library for Youth.

To kick things off, take a look at What's On at the Library from June 20-25th

  1. You Belong @ Your Library- LGBTQ+ & Allies Youth Group at the Fairview Branch

    Have you always wanted to be an ambassador for equality and empowerment in your community? Come join us to celebrate the unique and diverse LGBTQ+ youth of our community. In this WEEKLY youth alliance we will engage, lead and impact in inspiring ways in our library. Get involved and let's make a difference! Spaces is limited! Contact Sepideh Mckensy ( at Fairview Branch (416-395-5743) or drop in to reserve your spot.

  2. Teen Open House at the Pape/Danforth Branch

    Come and join our teen volunteers for two hours. You will enjoy the following:

    -Learn upcoming teen programs in the summer
    -Talk with teen volunteers about Youth Advisory Group
    -Know summer job opportunities in the city
    -Participate in teen summer reading branch display
    -Play board games

    Snacks are available.

  3. Duct Tape Crafts at the Cedarbrae Branch

    Use imagination and creativity to make a variety of crafts with duct tape. Free materials and instructions provided. Ages 11 to 19 years. To register, call 416-396-8850 or register in person at the branch.

Hope to see you all there!

"Pride. It looks like a party...but it started with a riot."

June 15, 2016 | Susan | Comments (0)


You likely know all about the amazing Pride Parade that fills Toronto's streets with dancing and celebration. (You should definitely go if you never have!) All that dancing, all that joy is to honour the history of LGBTQ2S+ rights and the continued need to fight for justice and equality. Recent tragic events in Orlando show that respect for LGBTQ2S+ lives is still fragile and incomplete. 



Canadian writer Robin Stevenson has put a lot of thought into the history of Pride and brings it to life in her book called, appropriately enough, Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community. As she says, "Pride. It looks like a party...but it started with a riot."

Continue reading ""Pride. It looks like a party...but it started with a riot."" »

Music Video Monday, Pride Edition: Eric Himan

June 13, 2016 | Cameron | Comments (0)

Eric Himan is an openly gay singer/songwriting for America. He has many accolades to his name and if you visit his website you can learn more about him there: He has created and produced 8 independent albums on his own record label and has dealt with many different social issues and themes in his music such as transgender, violence against woman, acceptance, etc. The first video of his is about a trans teen contemplating suicide: Little Boy Blue


Continue reading "Music Video Monday, Pride Edition: Eric Himan " »

Music Video Monday, Pride Edition: Gregory Douglass

June 6, 2016 | Cameron | Comments (0)

Gregory Douglass is an American singer/songwriter who hails from Vermont and has been an independent musician since 1998 with his first album. Douglas is openly gay and many of his songs deal with queer themes and issues. We will start off with a cover video of the Adele song: Set Fire to the Rain.


Continue reading "Music Video Monday, Pride Edition: Gregory Douglass " »

Music Video Monday, Pride Edition - Vivek Shraya

May 30, 2016 | Cameron | Comments (0)

Vivek Shraya is a Toronto based musician who identifies as Queer. She has toured Canada extensively with other Canadian musical groups and has written several books and also recently published a collection of poetry focusing on racism. Our first video for her is: Power


Continue reading "Music Video Monday, Pride Edition - Vivek Shraya " »

Stilettos on the Move, a Fashion Show !

April 30, 2016 | Cameron | Comments (0)

16670727-standardPride Week Celebration: Stilettos on the Move, a Fashion Show


Have you ever wondered what makes drag performers tick? Watch them strut their stuff and reveal the mystery behind their dazzling personas. Join us for an evening of fashion, fun, and flamboyance!
Please call (416) 395-5639 to register for this free program.

North York Central Library

Tuesday May 17th, 2016 7:00-8:00 P.M.


Your Bookmark here: Weird Girl and What's his Name

February 7, 2016 | Cameron | Comments (0)

Weird-girl-what-his-name-meagan-brothers"Weird Girl and What's his Name" is a wonderful novel about the relationship between two best friends in high school, who are simply trying to navigate the landscape and survive their small town as best they can together.

Lula and Rory share everything, especially their love of all things science fiction (and especially their love of the TV show "The X-files), and also the fact that they both feel that they just don't fit into this town. They tell each other everything, Rory came out to her years ago and she has shared all her complicated feelings over her Mother's walking out and abandoning her years ago. Lula has some conflicted feelings about Rory as she feels attracted to him, but also realized that nothing will ever come of that. She also does not care that Rory is over weight and has some body issues.

However, as Lula begins to uncover things about Rory that she did not know, she feels that he is moving away from her. She herself, decides that this may be a good time for her to go out and start searching for herself and to unravel her own sexuality and lack of relationship with her mother. Lula sets out on her own to go and find her mother.

This book takes a while to get going (there are a few pages of "X-files" descriptions that go on a bit too long) but once it's momentum is in place this is a refreshing read about LGBTQ youth and the issues that they face.

LGBTQ2S+ Youth Writers Drop In and Open Mic

January 26, 2016 | Ray | Comments (0)

IMG_1753Are you a creative writer of fiction, sci-fi, poetry, song, etc?

And identify as LGBTQ2S+ under 29 years old?  Welcome!

Starting February 8th, Writing Our Futures (formerly Pink Ink) is meeting at every Monday at Lillian H. Smith branch from 5-7pm.

For more info check out the event listing or contact Sonny at: sberenson[at]

 Also!  Check out our Open Mic on alternating Friday nights.  Share your original stories, song, poetry, etc.  We have snacks and an acoustic guitar and mic for use.  For LGBTQ2S+ youth under 29 years old.  Also at Lillian H. Smith library (College at Spadina)

Check out the event listing for more info.  The next one is Friday, February 5th, 6pm.  See ya!

FREE creative writing conference for LGBTQ youth and allies

September 24, 2015 | Ken Sparling | Comments (2)

Out Loud 2015 writing conference posterOUT LOUD! 2015: The Creative Writing Conference for LGBTQ Youth and Allies

Are you between the ages of 14-22? Do you love to write? Would you like to learn creative writing techniques from award-winning Toronto-based authors?

Come to OUT LOUD! 2015, a one-day writing conference for LGBTQ youth and allies. You will have a chance to sit in on workshops led by authors Ben Ladouceur, Lauren Kirshner, Vivek Shraya and Zoe Whittall, and visual artist Callan Field. Hear first-hand about their experiences as writers in the city and learn practical tips to help develop your own writing.

When: Saturday, October 17, 2015
10:30 am-4 pm
Where:  Glad Day Bookshop
598 Yonge Street (at Wellesley station)

This event is FREE and lunch is included.

Space is limited, so register early!


Summer read - An Interview with Raziel Reid.

September 3, 2015 | Cameron | Comments (0)

When Everything Feels Like the Movies - Raziel Reid

Raziel Reid is a Canadian author who currently resides in British Columbia. "When Everything Feels Like the Movies" is his first novel and it won the 2014 Governor General's Award for Teen fiction. The book was also nominated for the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ fiction. The novel has also been met with great resistance and a petition to have all awards stripped from the novel for its straight forward treatment and analysis of a gender non-conforming gay teen who lives in a small minded small town.


Here we go with ten questions that Youth Volunteers for the library came up with for Raziel:

  1. Are people intimidated by you when they meet you?

 I hope not! I feel socially awkward most of the time, and I can be paralyzingly shy, which I’ve been told reads as aloof. I’m not a bitch I’m just dying inside, okay?

 2. If you made a lot of money, what would you buy?

 I’d give it all to the poor, and God bless America.

 3. Any ideas for the next book? (will there be a next book?)

 I write every day. My screenplay for When Everything Feels like the Movies is being developed for film, and I’m working with Little Brown to release WEFLTM in the UK in 2016. I can’t wait to hold it in hard cover for the first time!

 4. When writing the book did you anticipate such success?

Not really. You stop feeling once Satan has taken the soul.

 5. How do you feel about the censorship toward your book?

It’s amusing that there are people who actually believe youth of today are being corrupted by literature. Her name is Siri!
Ultimately, the oppression efforts incited a righteous backlash and opened an important dialogue on censorship, victim blaming, and LGBT rights. By trying to censor the content of my book, my detractors have highlighted its importance. I believe WEFLTM has reached more people as a result, and although I wouldn’t go as far as saying I’m thankful for any attempted sabotage, I do appreciate that on all sides the reaction to the work has been so passionate.

 6. What is your strongest motivation to write?


 7. Chocolate or vanilla?

Both. In the same hole.

 8. Who or what inspired you to the career of creative writing?

I started writing because God needed a good editor.

 9. What are some of your favourite books and why?

Invisible Monsters because it was too fucked up to be first, American Psycho because it’s perfect, The Andy Warhol Diaries because they’re so cold and immersive, Answered Prayers because it cost him everything, Life With My Sister Madonna because I love a bitch.

 10. If anyone could play you in the movie version of your life who would it be?

Macaulay Culkin. Didn’t he already play me in Party Monster?



August 21, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

reviewed by Sara, age 16

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe book coverWhen two completely different guys meet for the first time over their summer break, the only thing they seem to have in common is the fact that they are lonely. Aristotle narrates this book as a 15-year-old who is constantly angry with his dysfunctional family. He conceals all his emotions to build up inside, always blocking himself off from relationships. Dante however is a lighthearted, curious and expressive guy. The two quickly become inseparable best friends who go through everything together. From hours on end of reading poetry that they don’t understand, to risking their lives for a bird. Their love for each other soon escalates to something that goes deeper than friendship. This book is an emotional roller coaster that will make you laugh, cry and everything in between. But in the end this book will leave you with a smile that stretches for miles.

Don't miss Sara's review of The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, coming August 23!


Summer read - The pull of wanting to belong, the push of knowing you are different.

August 20, 2015 | Cameron | Comments (0)

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon_Simon is gay and would very much like to have that fact remain anonymous at his high school. Why? He has seen the bullying, the homophobia, the out right hatred and he really wants no part in that - and why would he? Simon has recently met someone online and he is quite smitten with them, but the two don't know what the other person looks like; their relationship is entirely online and their identities are totally anonymous. Simon is quite happy with this arrangement and although he hopes to someday meet his online "boyfriend" he is not in any rush to come out of the closet. That is until Martin figures out what is happening with Simon and uses the knowledge to blackmail him.

The blackmail is simply, Simon must help Martin to get a girlfriend or he will out him to the entire school. Simon is confused to say the least, he does not want his secret known as he wishes to come out when he is ready but at the same time he does not really want to be bullied into helping Martin (this is sort of what he was trying to avoid in the first place) and he is incensed that his own internalized homophobia is one of the things that is holding him back.

Simon is a very self-aware and observant young man who also has a very dry wit. It is very easy when reading this book to forget that it is written by Becky Albertalli and not by a young gay man. This book is a really interesting allegory for being a young gay male and the push and pull you feel from society to try to fit in and be something that you are not. The pull of wanting to belong, but also the push of knowing you are different. The author of this book is a clinical psychologist and she offers some really subtle and intriguing insight into the difficulties that young gay men face in high school and the "real" world. At moments laugh-out-loud and at others cringe-worthy this book is rather excellent at examining high school life and how desperate so many of us are to be in relationships and feel loved.

Summer Read: Who Do You Think You Are?

July 5, 2015 | Alice | Comments (0)

None of the aboveNone of the Above, by I.W. Gregorio

Like Etta in Not Otherwise SpecifiedKristin finds herself in circumstances where she questions and clings to who she is, and where her closest friends have abandoned her, so she faces that difficult stuff without their support. 

Kristin is on top of the world. Sports star, pretty, popular, hot boyfriend, even crowned homecoming queen, though that's not really her thing. She decides that the night of prom is the night for her and her boyfriend - and things don't turn out at all as expected. Instead of romantic sexy times, she ends up at the doctor finding out that her body holds some big surprises, things that not even she would have guessed. 

It turns out that Kristin has one of the unusual combinations of genetic and physical characteristics that are known as "intersex." She's struggling to figure out what this means, and tells one of her best friends. Next thing she knows, the whole school knows the partial truth, and she is bullied and shamed ruthlessly. Her friends ditch her, her boyfriend breaks up with her and reacts with disgust. It's a nightmare of people uninformed, knee-jerk reactions, her own struggle to understand what this all means, and her deep sense of betrayal, which was exceptionally well-portrayed and true to life.

Ultimately, Kristin finds support in her father's attempts to fight things with information, her visits to a college campus, and talking to some other intersex people who show her that life goes on and you can make of it what you will. She is able to find the strength to make some decisions, face down some questions around her future, and finally, confront her former best friends.

She still has some things she wishes people knew, though, because the reactions she has faced are pretty crappy. It's something that a lot of LGBTQ+ people face, the prejudices, outmoded attitudes, ignorant beliefs about who they are, and horrible comments. It's something a lot of people with disabilities face. And people from other cultures or ethnicities. And people who just look different because of choices about hair colour, body decoration, or clothing. And... well, I bet lots of people have things they wish people knew so they didn't have to face the sorts of comments and questions and assumptions that they get all the time. 

Are there things you wish you could teach the world more about? 

None of the Above is also available as an ebook

Summer Read: Gotta Be You

July 1, 2015 | Alice | Comments (2)

Not Otherwise Specified, by Hannah Moskowitz

Not otherwise specificedEvery rare now and then, you meet characters - and people - that are just so fiercely THEM that they are inspiring. Etta is that kind of girl, or at least is working hard toward it, holding on tight to what she knows about herself and finding her way back to accepting it after taking a few hard knocks.

Thing is, Etta doesn't always fits the boxes other people seem to sit in so neatly. She is a ballerina, and a talented one, but being short and chubby and  black and more full of personality than discipline, she doesn't fit the mold well, and her teachers tell her so. This kicks off some disordered eating, but she's still too chubby to fit into the label of "anorexic." She's biracial, neither entirely black nor entirely white, and really, being a person of any colour other than white in Nebraska is going to make you stand out. She hangs out with a groups of lesbian girls at school, but they don't see her as part of the group any more after she dates a guy because she's bisexual, not gay. She's just never entirely anything - except herself.

When she's at her lowest about all of this, Etta finds a few people with problems of their own who take her for who she is - and that helps. They all start to audition for an arts school in New York, and in going through that, training together, supporting each other, riding the ups and downs together, bonds are formed that help each of them. And by the time she makes it to New York for a final audition and drops in on a ballet school,. she has found her way back to her own certainty enough that the teacher's comments don't even make a dent, because she knows he's right - she's talented, but too stand-outy, too shiny to melt into a corps of dancers, and she's just got to be her.

Last week, at a Pride barbecue, I kept telling everyone about this book. And I keep telling every teen and adult I know about it, and about the character, and how amazing she was.

Think about this quote:

Hurrican john green quote

You can think of people like that, right? People who just seem more... BIG. People who are sort of inspiring, and awe-inspiring. People you sort of wish you were more like, or admire that they can be that way.

Now it's your turn to share: Who inspires that sort of feeling in you - a book character, a celebrity, someone you know, a relative, anyone at all who makes you wonder just how they do it.





Run to the library and read THIS BOOK IS GAY -- a review

March 25, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (1)

Illustration from this book is gay by james dawsonThis Book Is Gay by James Dawson

Reviewed by Editorial Youth Advisory Group member Anupya

“Anyway, who gets to decide what’s “normal” and what isn’t? What a horrid, excluding word that is.” -James Dawson

If you’ve pictured what it would be like if Tumblr published a book, this is it. Littered with 1D references, Doctor Who praise and Glee snark - This Book is Gay delivers a truthful rendition of the complicated spectrum of sexuality and gender, told from the voice of a cool, older brother.

Written by London-based writer James Dawson, This Book is Gay is a collection of facts, ideas and stories he collected of more than 300 LGBT* people who shared their stories. Yes, there is an asterisk after LGBT -- to symbolize everyone else that cannot possibly fit into one short abbreviation. Dawson is well informed on the fluidity and the wide range of sexual and gender identities. He conducted an international survey in July 2013 as research for the book and the result is the diversity of the range of voices and opinions gathered. Furthermore, it is established from the get-go that you don’t have to be gay to enjoy and relate to the book –- This Book is Gay is for everyone.

The very first page of the book is a hyper-simplified explanation of each identity; the one page that should be thrust in the faces of homophobic people and ignorant countries around the world. Almost like a handbook on “how-to-gay”, the pages are packed with fun illustrations that inform and get you thinking. With a page-long description for each sexuality, the book tackles the very interesting topic of the science behind why people are gay. It then proceeds to fight and break down common queer stereotypes, lists counter-arguments to religious homophobic sects, the countries you should avoid due to their lack of support of LGBT* communities and some international charities that can help people with these issues. Dawson makes sure the book gives real, useful advice such as -- where to find a romantic/sexual partner, the types of non-heterosexual sex and how each one works, STIs and their consequences –- all the while cracking you up with his wit and sarcasm.

This Book is Gay is the kind of book whose pages should be plastered around middle and high schools. To all the adults, you will read the book and wish it were published when you probably most needed it. To all the teenagers today, I say -- run. Run -- don't walk -- to a library or your nearest bookstore and read This Book is Gay.

Put a hold on This Book is Gay now!

Or borrow the ebook!

Youth Survey. My Curved Border

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