Tuesday, July 21, 2015

TTT - Diverse Books

Time to link up with The Broke and the Bookish again!

I wasn't planning on participating in Top Ten Tuesday this week. But when I saw what the topic was? How could I resist??

For those of you who aren't regular followers, this year I'm reading a diverse book every week and vlogging about it on my Youtube channel. So obviously, I have a lot of diverse books that I want to shout about from the rooftops!

All the books I'm reading for my challenge have diverse protagonists. It's one thing to have diverse characters in a book, it's another entirely to tell it from the PERSPECTIVE of a diverse character. In a lot of ways, I feel like young adult novels are doing diversity reasonably well. There are an increasing number of books featuring not just sassy gay/black/Latino best friends, but characters who are transgender, who are intersex, who have a disability, who are mixed race, who have mental health problems or eating disorders, or who are diverse in multiple ways.

Really, it's adult books that are failing where diversity is concerned. And it would be great if there were more diverse young adult books in the spotlight that AREN'T set in the US...

ANYWAY. Here's my list.

1. Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

As I've told the girls at school with disturbing regularity, this is the best book I've read so far this year. It deals really well with a teenage boy struggling with his sexuality and coming out, not only to his family but to his friends and the wider school community.

2. The Wrath and the Dawn - Renee Ahdieh

I absolutely adored this retelling of The Arabian Nights. All the characters are people of colour, the culture shines through brilliantly, and basically this book made me really hungry because it talks about food so much.

3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Saenz

One of the best books I read last year. It's the story of two Mexican-American teenage boys growing up in the 1980s, and discovering that maybe there's more to their relationship than just friendship. Astonishingly beautiful from start to finish.

4. The Shattering - Karen Healey

Set on the south island of New Zealand, this book is told from the perspective of three teenagers. One's Maori and a lesbian, one's Samoan, and while the other is straight and Pakeha (of European descent), she's dyslexic. It's a fabulous book, not only because of its diversity, but because the story essentially fits into multiple genres. It's contemporary but also a crime story but also there's magic involved??

5. None of the Above - I.W. Gregorio

A teenage girl sleeps with her boyfriend for the first time, and as a result of massive pain, learns that she's intersex. This has a massive impact on her relationship, her friendships, the way she's seen at school and, potentially, her future as she's got an athletics scholarship to university that might be compromised by her intersex status. It was feels-tastic and absolutely brilliant.

6. People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks

This book starts with an Australian paper conservator being summoned to Bosnia by the UN to examine and preserve the Sarajevo Haggadah. The rest of the story takes us back through time, telling the stories of the people all over Europe who created and transported the Haggadah, keeping it safe across the centuries. The vast majority of these people, including Hannah, are Jewish though there are also some fabulous Muslim characters.

7. Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan

Oh, please. Like you could make a list of diverse books and not include at least one by David Levithan. I cried four times reading this book, and it's only two hundred pages. I know the narration - a Greek chorus of the dead of the AIDS generation - doesn't work for everyone, but I absolutely adored it. And I loved the diversity WITHIN the seven or eight main characters. Sure, they're all gay, but there are a range of different ethnicities involved, and one of the characters is transgender.

8. Laurinda - Alice Pung

Set in Melbourne, this is the story of a teenage girl who wins a scholarship to a snooty private school and really struggles to come to terms with the two halves of her identity - the scholarship girl struggling to make friends in a new environment, and the rough-as-guts western suburbs girl who came to Australia by boat and who knows exactly where she fits in. Not always an easy read, but an important one.

9. Not Otherwise Specified - Hannah Moskowitz

A lot of reviews on Goodreads talk about how grating and awful the main character is in this book. But personally? I loved Etta. She's African-American, bisexual, and has an eating disorder. And all she wants is to be a dancer and leave Nebraska. Not necessarily in that order. I loved how open Etta is about her sexuality, how well the issue of food was dealt with in the story, how Etta's told that her body type will prevent her from achieving her dreams but she keeps on fighting. Basically, it was great.

10. Stormdancer - Jay Kristoff

A steampunk story set in Shoganate Japan with nothing but diverse characters? Uh, YES PLEASE. It took me a while to get into this one, because the world building was sort of...scattered?? And Kristoff's writing is very heavy on the descriptions. But I really loved the world and the characters that Kristoff created. Plus, how can you pass up a sassy, scene-stealing griffin??

What's on your list this week?

K xx

1 comment:

  1. Agreed that other literary genres outside of YA need to get on the diversity bandwagon. I feel like books featuring gay and lesbian protagonists mostly exist in the outskirts of these genres being published by small, indipendant presses. As a result, the lesbian books I read were mostly not as good.

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