> Queer Books Please: First round match ups....

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

First round match ups....

.... let's get ready to rumble! Keep reading for the first match ups in LAMMY Madness! If you're lost, check out the first post in this series


 THE PLAY IN ROUND. These two fine books are battling it out for a chance to go up against the #1 seed. Both tackle familiar YA story lines. SILHOUETTE is a coming of age historical romance. A girl discovers herself and finds love with an exciting new friend. KISS THE MORNING STAR is a coming of age road trip romance. A girl discovers herself, deals with a lot of pain and issues, and
loves her edgy and dangerous best friend.

SILHOUETTE shines in this match up. The story is full of incredible sweetness, the interesting setting, and an ability to keep things moving without resorting to melodrama. KISS THE MORNING STAR goes big early, with questions of religion, a dead mother, and a road trip that gets dangerous and dramatic (Guns! Dangerous boys! Drugs!) awfully fast. If I can make a sports metaphor (and I can, because this whole post series is a big sports metaphor) SILHOUETTE is a book that plays for the whole game, solid all around, while  KISS THE MORNING STAR didn't hold my attention in all ways.

That means SILHOUETTE OF A SPARROW is moving on to the next round! Will this solid, all around well-done read have a chance against #1 seed PERSONAL EFFECTS, a book that combines a realistic, modern voice with super hot topic issues?

Our next match up!


#2 seed CAMERON POST goes against #7 seed ADAPTATION.

First, full disclosure. In the bracket of my heart ADAPTATION probably wins this and any other match up in this entire tournament, as its particular blend of near future, conspiratorial science fiction is right up my alley. Up against some of these Big Issue books that have also been nominated, I can't help but root for Adaptation because it avoids some of those issues for pure entertainment. And therefore comes out and something of an underdog. I love a good underdog story...  But this is not just about my preferred books--I'm trying to think about things in the way the Lambda committee will, judging these books on gay content and literary merit.

Although they probably won't use as many sports metaphors when they're hashing this out.

CAMERON POST is a powerhouse of a book. Yes it's another coming of age / coming out story,  but CAMERON POST is a book accepts the conventions of the genre, and then knocks them out of the park with thoughtful writing, a fantastic main character, and a wonderful setting in rural Montana. It also addresses some Big Issues when Cam finds herself at a de-gaying conversion camp, but the best parts of the book simply let us follow Cam through her life and enjoy the ride.

ADAPTATION is a forward thinking book, a look into the exciting places where Queer YA lit might be heading. Characters are diverse in race and sexuality, and that diversity is organic rather than a Big Issue. I love how coming out in this book is dealt with in a way that feels realistic, and up to date with the way society deals with queerness. Also important is that fact that this is an exciting, adventurous book that should appeal to all readers, gay and straight. Not all coming out tales can make that claim.

All that being said, I've got to go with CAMERON POST as the winner in this match up. Cam is such a commanding character, a memorable narrator who elevates this book above so many other coming out stories. And while I commend ADAPTATION for pushing beyond convention I think in this particular award a book that exemplifies the best that the coming out genre has to offer is the one that needs to move on to the next round.

What book will THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST face? The next contest is between a #3 seed and a #6 seed. 


Two books in a head to head match up that are at their heart, very similar. They both engage in a certain amount of magical realism. And they both have very big hearts disguised, general messages of tolerance and love and the general sameness and connectedness of everyone. But, there can be only one!

EVERY DAY may be my biggest “missed opportunity” book of the year. It has a great concept. The protagonist is called A. A's consciousness enters a new body every day. Now I think you can say that a spirit moving from body to body regardless of gender and sex is a very queer concept, and A does at times inhabit the bodies of gay and trans people. But I never felt like this idea was pushed or explored as far as it could have been. A lot of complicated themes regarding sexuality, sex, and gender, get simplified into a "love is love" sort of theme--admirable, but not as complex as I personally might like.

On the other hand, it's a worthy message for young people to read these days. And the low key but supernatural premise may bring some readers to this book who may not have been exposed to these sorts of themes at all. That's certainly a positive thing. 

ASK THE PASSENGERS is in some ways a more conventional book--a girl comes to terms with her sexuality, deals with homophobia, her parents, and all the other things that attend ones coming of age. But it includes some great elements that hadn't seen before. Astrid's anxiety about taking her physical relationship with her sort-of-girlfriend to the next step is very thoughtfully portrayed. And her parents,  struggling alongside Astrid in small-town life, shine in a way that adult characters in YA books rarely get the chance to.

This is a difficult battle. I find to my surprise that while I loved ASK THE PASSENGERS and merely liked EVERY DAY, I want to choose EVERY DAY for this reason: I appreciate it as a worthy attempt to try and tackle issues re: GBLT youth in a direct, challenging way, while still spinning an interesting tale.  And because I think the body jumping is such a wild and exciting concept!

EVERY DAY wins by a nose. 

Check out the updated bracket below the cut. And come back tomorrow evening for the rest of the first round match ups!

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