Friday, November 21, 2014
This month's pick, TELL ME AGAIN HOW A CRUSH SHOULD FEEL by Sara Farizan, was probably the most light-hearted of the books that YA Diversity Book Club has read so far. As we all agreed, that was kind of a pleasant surprise. Here's more about the book:
High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia's confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.
From the description, one would probably expect TELL ME AGAIN to be all about Leila coming to terms with her sexuality. And on the surface, I guess it is. That's what drives the plot.
But what I found even more compelling was the underlying theme of identity vs. appearance. Leila learns that she is not the only person who is different -- or who contains more -- on the inside than others would guess from the outside.
Leila isn't just a lesbian. She's also Persian. These are probably the two biggest checkboxes that make up her own sense of self. One of them -- her sexuality -- she spends a lot of time questioning, weighing, and worrying about. The other -- her ethnicity -- is simply part of her. It's ingrained. It colors her family life and her values and her experiences, but it isn't something that needs to be debated or announced. It just is.
I loved that. I loved that this book was diverse on multiple levels. I loved the reminder that people aren't just one flavor. Most of us are not chocolate OR vanilla -- but rather chocolate AND vanilla AND mint chocolate chip AND cookies 'n' cream AND orange sherbet AND... You get the point.
My most prominent flavors are: writer, Taiwanese halfie, feminist, dog lover. What are yours?
* * *For more on TELL ME AGAIN HOW A CRUSH SHOULD FEEL, be sure to check out all the YA Diversity Club posts:
••• Our group discussion at the Reading Date. In addition to discussing sexuality and culture, we also explore the great cast of characters in Leila's story.
••• Q&A with Sara Farizan at Gone Pecan. The author reveals how TELL ME AGAIN was born in Hollywood, and how the book was influenced by her own experiences and upbringing.
••• Favorite LGBT Themed YA Novels at Teen Lit Rocks. Sandie shares her picks for the best queer stories in YA.
Next month we're taking a break from reading for the holidays, but we'll be doing a roundup of all our favorite diverse titles from 2014!
- 2017 (2)
- 2016 (11)
- 2015 (45)
- 2014 (98)
- 2013 (95)
- 2012 (101)
- 2011 (45)
- ► 2015 (45)
- ▼ November (7)
- ► 2013 (95)
- ► 2012 (101)
on the shelf
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