Posts Tagged ‘ ya lit ’

A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend

As you may or may not know, I am the kind of person who loves getting super stoked on books. Most of the time it entails me thinking about the book while biking to work: What will happen next? What is so-and-so’s motives for doing something so stupid? In the past two months, I’ve blown through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, the entire Pretty Little Liars series, and a slew of comic books and graphic novels. Nothing too deep, but books that have the power to monopolize my thoughts and make me want to stay home and read rather than hang out with friends.

I read Emily Horner’s A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend wanting a light summer read starring a queer lady, and that is exactly what I got. In fact, I camped out at Coffeehouse Five (it was too cold to hang out outside) and read the whole book in one day. I didn’t want to like it because my good friend Caitlin has been talking about writing a queer YA book about a girl who goes on a bike tour for quite a while, and I was secretly hoping that it wouldn’t be very good so Cait could write a better version. It turns out that I really enjoyed the book, and I still think Caitlin could write a great novel. So win-win.

The story is split into two different timelines, the then and now. The “then” story arc primarily consists of Cass dealing with her best friend Julia’s death. The two had previously planned a cross-country road trip from Illinois to California, but after Julia is suddenly killed in a car accident, Cass decides to go by herself to spread her dead BFF’s ashes in the Pacific Ocean. By bike.  In the present time, Julia (a self-described drama nerd) had been working on a script for a bloody ninja musical before she died, and her friends (all of whom are also drama nerds) decide to put on the play in her honor. Cass is the only non-theater person helping with the play and she has some serious struggles with belonging – even though she has a tight-knit friend circle, they are friends she met through Julia. When Julia dies, Cass wonders if Julia was the only tie she had to the people she has spent the past few years hanging out with.

Working on the play, she is forced to work with Heather, her arch-nemesis from middle school, the girl who called her out for being queer in front of the entire school and generally made her day-to-day a living hell. But she quickly discovers that Heather is not so one-dimensional as previously thought. Oh come on. I’m beating around the bush trying to not give anything away, but we all know Heather is gay. That is why she was such a homophobic bitch to Cass, obvs. Don’t worry – knowing that gem won’t ruin the rest of story for you.

I love a queer young adult novel. I kinda think it is a formula you can’t go wrong with, and I wish there were such awesome, positive and heartwarming books out there when I was in middle or high school. One of reasons I liked this book so much, though, was Cass’s use of a bike as her main mode of transportation. In the media, I feel like there is generally so much focus on driving and having a car, especially as a metaphor for escape and entrance to adulthood, while bikes are typically portrayed as babyish in movies. So to see Cass using a bike a way to escape her life and process her grief and become an adult was awesome. It made me want to go on bike tour and just be quiet with myself for awhile.

Orson Scott Card: The quotable ALA-honored Homophobe

Orson Scott card was recently awarded the Margaret A. Edwards award for “lifetime achievement in writing for young adults”, and I am sort of torn on the issue. It is really hard for me to justify the ALA’s stance in looking at books for the merit of the writing, and to ignore the personal politics of the author. I completely stand behind the idea that it is important that we do not ban books or writers. But then again, I also wonder if Card were writing racist propaganda if he would have even been nominated. I am in no way saying that racism doesn’t exist in the ALA; on the contrary, I believe that it is so embedded in our culture that we often don’t even notice it. No one wants to be called out as a racist, so white people will do all kinds of stupid things, like naming their friends who are persons of color and attempting to be an ally while still not acknowledging the fact that all white people in the US are racist. It is so completely part of our American culture that there is no way we cannot be not racist. POC are targeted by police and incarcerated and basically still enslaved in this country, but it is totally cool to pretend that racism doesn’t exist.

But for some reason, homophobia continues to stand as one of the remaining acceptable -isms. Which is why we are even having these stupid marriage debates, or why I feel like I have to keep calling out dumbasses for saying horrible shit. Because there are no real repercussions for being homophobic (or racist, for that matter).

I don’t think we should ban Orson Scott Card whatsoever, but do I think there could’ve probably been another writer, possibly not a homophobic white male, that was worthy of receiving such a prestigious award? Of course.

Brian Kenney wrote an editorial in the School Library Journal about this conflict of interest, which is worth checking out. Also, here are links to some of Card’s homophobic articles, if you’re in the mood for fighting:

The Hypocrites of Homosexuality Really, there are so many good quotes here. He says gays are mentally ill hypocrites for not changing their behavior, but wanting to change the laws, and thus destroying the church (because obviously you can’t be religious and gay). Some favorite quotes:

“The Church has no room for those who, instead of repenting of homosexuality, wish it to become an acceptable behavior in the society of the Saints. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, preaching meekness while attempting to devour the flock.” Again with the accusations of gay recruiters. I really need to get on this gay army thing…

and

“The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.”

Homosexual “Marriage” and Civilization in which he discusses that gay people already have marriage rights because they can get married to people of the opposite sex. Um…yeah.