RT: Diversity and sexuality, part six

Today’s final part of our DiversiTheme discussion about diversity and sexuality centers around recommendations. If you want to add any of your own recommendations, we’d love to hear them!

What are some of your favorite YA books that deal with both sexuality and diversity? 

Marieke: My favorite books are the ones where characters just happen to be gay, or disabled, or happen to deal with some kind of mental illness, for example. Alison Goodman’s EON and EONA, for example, where one of the characters in this Asian-inspired epic fantasy just happens to be transgender.

Kayla: The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta is one of my favorites, particularly in terms of sexuality, though I did find a few things in the first book a touch problematic. But overall I freaking LOVE them. Every character in those books is so detailed and nuanced and heartbreakingly real, and the relationships both sexual and otherwise are beyond compelling. I really appreciate that she never shies away from sex or sexuality or sexual violence. While the relationships are mostly straight, we do get a wide range of sexual relationships and experiences in terms of the emotional, physical, political, and social ramifications.

And I can’t not mention THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. Two disabled characters who actually have sex? It was so, so refreshing for me to see main characters with disabilities at all (even though my own is wholly different, I hadn’t connected with any other characters in quite the same way before), but for it to be a romance complete with sexual attraction, desire, and experiences? Love.

Bonus mention: I’m also currently loving Sarah Rees Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy series. I ship Angela/Holly SO HARD.

Patrice: Hmm…I, too, am a fan of books where characters just happened to be gay etc…as well as books where the main characters, not just supporting ones, reflect a diverse world in terms of their background and sexuality.

I’m a huge fan of Malinda Lo. I think she knows how to write a great book that deals with both sexuality and diversity. (She’s also an alum of my college, *snaps*) For example, her debut, ASH, is a lesbian Cinderella retelling. Need I say more? Hands down one of my favorites. And the prose is so lyrically wonderful! And HUNTRESS…all the tears. Also, she just had this huge YA Pride month, as well as tons of other posts, so there are some amazing book recs on her blog. She also founded the Diversity in YA tumblr & blog along with Cindy Pon. Along with also having great book recs, it has some wonderful resources in regard to writing YA that deals with diversity and sexuality.

I will admit, I haven’t read any John Green, though I do love the vlogbrothers. I’m been working up the strength to read TFIOS, I get really emotional while reading so it might take me a while to gather the courage to read it, especially since I know/have a pretty good feeling how it ends.

Though I haven’t read it yet, I’ve heard CODA by Emma Trevayne handles diversity and sexuality very well.

Natalie: To go back to How I Live Now (Meg Rossoff) – the main character falls in love with her first cousin. I won’t ruin the end, but she still loves him, strongly, at the end despite what happened to him during the course of the story.

Before I Die (Jenny Downham) is a complete emotional wreck of a book and also deals with love and being terminally ill with cancer.

Marieke: Seconding the Lumatere Chronicles SO much, Kayla! I love those books (as everyone who has followed me on Twitter will probably know *g*) and they deal with sexuality in a very refreshing, realistic way.

On that note, I’d also recommend Lynn Flewelling’s Tamir Triad. They’re straddling the line between YA and adult, and they deal with gender–and sexuality–in a very interesting way. The main character is bewitched at birth and grows up as a boy, unaware that she is, in fact, a girl. I felt the consequences of that curse were portrayed very well–and respectfully so.

Sarah: I LOVE Dayo Forster’s READING THE CEILING. There’s not much YA set in African countries, but those which are tend to perpetuate the whole ‘AIDS/ early pregnancy/ poverty’ thing. Here, though, the main character is obsessing over boys and first times right from the first page. She has desires and hopes and worries just like any western kid, and it is wonderful.

Tabitha Suzuma’s FORBIDDEN is excellent, too, for a different sort of unexpectedness. Mention the word ‘incest’ and most people would run a mile, but this sibling relationship is beautiful and understandable, and you’ll find yourself rooting for them by the end.

And not for unexpectedness but pure refreshing *realness*, I’m seconding the TFioS rec. God, I love that book. Yes.

Cait: I think you guys have nailed it! I agree across the board. And now I have a bunch of books to add to my TBR pile!

The last two questions are really easy, so I’ll go ahead and put them up:

Do you have any favorite resources for researching different kinds of sexuality or how to write about it?

Aaaaaaand are there any further comments you’d like to make? 

Some of my favorite resources include the YouTube channels Sex+ (http://www.youtube.com/user/lacigreen) and Sexplanations (http://www.youtube.com/user/sexplanations). Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon’s Diversity in YA tumblr (http://diversityinya.tumblr.com/) is also really great for a wide variety of things, but especially the intersection of race and sexuality. And of course, the lovely DiversifYA!

The only other thing I’d like to say as part of the discussion is that we as a community all need to be open to asking of and answering questions from each other, all with a healthy dose of respect and sensitivity. It goes a long way.

And I just want to say thank you to all of you now, in case I don’t get a chance later! You’ve all been great and given such awesome answers. This has definitely been a lot of fun and I’m glad we got a chance to do it.

Kayla: I wholeheartedly second the Sex+ and Sexplanations recommendations. I also really like Scarleteen. Those three are my go-tos for sex/sexuality stuff. Scarleteen in particular is really comprehensive.

I’ve also only just started this book, but so far I’m loving THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SEX AND DISABILITY by Miriam Kaufman, M.D., Cory Silverberg, and Fran Odette. And while it is aimed at a disabled audience, so far it seems like it’d be a really great read for abled people too.

And I just want to take this opportunity to thank DiversifYA for hosting such an amazing roundtable, and to thank all my fellow participants! It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Marieke: I’ll sneak in and steal the last words *g* It’s been an absolute pleasure having you all here! The hosting was the easy part–as with the rest of DiversifYA, we couldn’t have done it without all of you so generously sharing your time, experiences, and thoughts. So THANK YOU to Cait, for being an amazing moderator, and to all our participants–Kayla, Natalie, Patrice, Sarah–you’re all fantastic. And thank you to everyone spreading the word! This has been absolutely amazing 🙂 <3

Comments are closed.