Harris, Joanne. Different Class. New York: Touchstone, 2016.
In this masterful suspense novel, aging Latin teacher Roy Straitley confronts more than the typical schoolboy carousing as an old student comes back into his life. In the early 1970s, a tight-knit group of three boys clamor for the attention of their favorite teacher, Harry Clarke. They water his plants, fetch him cups of tea, and listen to records together on their lunch break. It isn’t uncommon for boys to form such relationships with teachers, and nobody thinks anything of it.
Note: some minor spoilers follow. Continue reading
Dennis-Benn, Nicole. Here Comes the Sun. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2016.
This heartbreaking, beautiful novel follows the lives of four women in Jamaica as they struggle to live in poverty and with rigid social expectations. Continue reading
Sycamore, Mattilda Bernstein. Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform. Oakland: AK Press, 2012.
This powerful anthology explores masculinity vis a vis queerness, ethnicity, and gender identity. Sycamore and contributors interrogate the notion of “straight-acting gays” and the pressure to conform to a “sanitized, straight-friendly version of gay identity” (p. 1). For Sycamore fans, Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? really dovetails nicely with That’s Revolting! in terms of the exploration of straight conformity. Essays from diverse voices include perspectives from trans people, people of color, indigenous folks, immigrants, sex workers, HIV-positive folks, and a variety of class identities and gender presentations. Continue reading
Hurley, Kameron. The Stars are Legion. New York: Saga Press, 2017.
Zan wakes up with no memory of her history or identity. She is being held by the Katazyrna matriarchy and trained to breach Mokshi, the only remaining world-ship healthy enough to sustain life. Meanwhile, her sometime-lover Jayd is traded to the Bhavaja matriarchy in a diplomatic marriage intended to stop a generations-long war. The two women’s stories intertwine as both desperately struggle to stay alive, negotiate loyalties and betrayals, and gain control of Mokshi. Continue reading
Hill-Meyer, Tobi (Editor). Nerve Endings: The New Trans Erotic. New York: Instar Books, 2017.
This collection of short stories is a rarity: erotica by trans people, about trans people, for trans people. So often, trans bodies are commodified and fetishized by cisgender people; both in pornography and socio-legally. Nerve Endings proudly presents 30 unique trans narratives that run the gamut of sexualities, genders, romantic/sexual behaviors, and literary genres. Continue reading
Silverberg, Cory (Author) and Fiona Smyth (Illustrator). What Makes a Baby. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2012.
With the tagline “A book for every kind of family and every kind of kid,” What Makes a Baby is indeed the most inclusive children’s book about reproduction that I’ve ever read. Intended to be read by grownups to children, this book provides an age-appropriate approach to basic details about reproduction and plenty of opportunities for personal sharing about a child’s own story. Continue reading
Trujillo, Carla. What Night Brings. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 2003.
Every night, Marci Cruz prays to God and Baby Jesus to turn her into a boy, and every morning she checks to see if they granted her wish. She doesn’t actually feel like a boy, though:
It’s because I like girls. I don’t know how or when it happened. Maybe I was born this way, but the second I saw chiches, I wanted them. I couldn’t stop thinking of girls, during the day at school, at night in my dreams, and especially when I watched TV. Now I know you can’t be with a girl if you are a girl. So that’s why I have to change into a boy. (9)