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MTYT: Symptoms of Being Human

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, Leanna Lucero and Tabitha P. Collins

Riley is a gender fluid teenager who struggles with their identity on daily basis — sometimes Riley feels like a boy, other times a girl, and sometimes neither. The added weight of a sometimes complicated secret gender identity on a normal teenager is often overwhelming to Riley, so at the suggestion of their therapist, Riley creates an online blog using an alias as a method of venting their frustrations as well as to create a forum to openly discuss their struggles as a gender fluid person. Despite these difficulties, Riley is beginning to settle in at a new school with new friends (Bec and Solo) who seem to accept them for who they are. When an anonymous commenter on Riley’s blog discovers their true identity, Riley must decide whether to erase the blog and walk away from this newfound safe space or to come out and face their parents and the rest of the world.

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin Continue reading

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MTYT: Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, Leanna Lucero and Tabitha P. Collins

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is the story of Gabe, who has been living as Elizabeth, but has known for some time that he is Gabe and must figure out a way to show himself to the world. Through his job at a local radio station, and with the support of his friend and neighbor, John, Gabe is able to experiment with sharing his identity during his late-night radio show. Unfortunately, people eventually begin to make the connections between Gabe and Elizabeth, and when things take a turn for the worst, Gabe must make some difficult decisions. Using humor and a wide range of musical references, Cronn-Mills addresses the delicate subject of an often ignored population in a way that is authentic and engaging.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills Continue reading

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MTYT: Luna

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, Leanna Lucero and Tabitha P. Collins

Liam has never felt okay in his own skin because deep down, he knows that he is a girl playing a boy during his waking hours. At night, though, Luna emerges. Safe in the confines of her sister Regan’s bedroom, she transforms into the girl that she is inside. As Luna becomes more comfortable with her chosen identity, she can’t hide from the world anymore. Luna feels she must emerge from her cocoon and present as Luna to the world. But will Regan and the rest of Luna’s friends and family be able to accept Luna for who she is? And can Regan ever stop resenting the choices that Luna has made and how those choices affect her? Peters’ novel shows the struggles of a transgender teen trying to come to terms with her identity as well as shows readers how Luna’s struggles (and the struggles of others like her) can impact the lives of close friends and family members.

Luna by Julie Anne Peters Continue reading

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MTYT: I am J

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, Leanna Lucero and Tabitha P. Collins

This month we discuss adolescent literature that features coming out stories of transgender and gender fluid adolescents. Mary and Leanna happened upon this genre when they brainstormed ways to interpret a Crossing Borders theme in their undergraduate teacher-education classes. Tabitha, a doctoral candidate, focuses on children’s and adolescent literature that features LGBTQ+ characters as part of their research agenda. What follows in each discussion is a synopsis of the novel and excerpts from our conversations about multiple topics including believability (Tunnel & Jacobs, 2004), stereotypes, story patterns (Stott, 1978), supports in place for LGBTQ youth (particularly at school), and the authors’ calls to action.

I Am J by Cris Beam, global perspectives

January’s My Take/Your Take begins with a discussion of I am J by Cris Beam. Continue reading

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MTYT: December 2016

Examining Morally Complicated Young Adult Literature
By T. Gail Pritchard and Deborah Dimmett

morally complicated young adult literatureThe Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

GAIL: This time last year, the young adult literature (YAL) world was all abuzz about an unfortunate choice of words by a debut author. Perhaps it was naivety on his part, perhaps it was the way his words were edited in an oft quoted article, perhaps it was a combination — but the result was the same, the YAL community did not like his description of past and current YA as lacking moral complexity. They posted, they blogged, they tweeted; and as a result, lists of morally complicated YAL appeared and sessions at conferences (e.g. YALC 2016, NCTE 2016) were well-attended. Through the discussion of some of the novels appearing on these lists and in conference sessions, we will explore definitions of morally complex YAL, the complicated journeys that occur, the likability of the characters, and the tough questions these novels force us to ask. Continue reading