Showing posts with label lgbtq lit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lgbtq lit. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Review: Ask The Passengers by A.S. King


Title: Ask The Passengers
Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: October 23, 2012
Source: personal purchase

Summary from Goodreads

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl.

My Review:

Oh man, I forgot how much I enjoy a really good, fo' serious YA novel.  I read a few in the last year or two, and they were okay, but many are so focused on angsty boy-meets-girl plotlines that they felt more like fluff reads than anything else.  But then I got my socks knocked off by Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls, so I decided to follow that up with Ask The Passengers.  GREAT CHOICE.  This is the first time I've read anything by A.S. King, but it certainly won't be the last!  And I'm now very excited to meet her at the Rochester Teen Book Festival in May.

I hereby declare that this book should be required reading for adolescents.  Not just those that are questioning their sexuality, but ALL teens.  Because Astrid goes through some pretty awful bullying as her sexual identity becomes more public.  I sometimes lose sight of the fact that not everyone grows up in an area like mine, where views on the LGBTQ lifestyle are generally accepting.  (I say generally because...as we all know, there are haters everywhere.  Unfortunately.)  I had friends that came out in high school, and it didn't create nearly the ripples (more like tidal waves) that Astrid has to face in the close-minded community of Unity Valley.  This book is great for any teenager in the midst of their sexual-identity journey, as well as those who want to understand how to better support their friends and family members going through such an exploration.

What makes this stand out in YA LGBTQ literature?  Number one is Astrid.  She is such a great character.  She's often snarky and sarcastic, despite the difficult issues she's constantly facing.  Plus, her frank discussions about sexuality are refreshing (and the primary reason why I think all teens should read this).  I love her habit of "sending love" to the passengers of airplanes that she sees flying above her.  At first, I didn't know what to make of that ritual, but I like how King uses it as a way to explore the relationship problems that many of the passengers themselves are facing (she often segues to little side-stories about the passengers that Astrid has "sent her love" to).  This whole idea gives the book a unique premise, something more than your average YA novel.

GAH, you guys!!  Are all the Rochester TBF authors going to be this good?  Ask The Passengers was an awesome read, and has made me want to be all BFF-like with the YA genre again...for a little while, at least.  :)

Readers: have you read any other books that tackle teen LGBTQ issues in a powerful way?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Audiobook Review: Landing by Emma Donoghue

Title: Landing
Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
Publication Date: May 1, 2007
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

A delightful, old-fashioned love story with a uniquely twenty-first-century twist, Landing is a romantic comedy that explores the pleasures and sorrows of long-distance relationships--the kind millions of us now maintain mostly by plane, phone, and Internet.

Síle is a stylish citizen of the new Dublin, a veteran flight attendant who's traveled the world. Jude is a twenty-five-year-old archivist, stubbornly attached to the tiny town of Ireland, Ontario, in which she was born and raised. On her first plane trip, Jude's and Síle's worlds touch and snag at Heathrow Airport. In the course of the next year, their lives, and those of their friends and families, will be drawn into a new, shaky orbit.

This sparkling, lively story explores age-old questions: Does where you live matter more than who you live with? What would you give up for love, and would you be a fool to do so?


My Review:

I read Room by Emma Donoghue a few years ago, and was completely captivated by it.  So when I saw this audiobook sitting on my library's shelf, I had to go for it, in the interest of exploring Donoghue's other work.  This, however, is an entirely different novel, and if her name was taken off the cover, I probably would never have guessed that she penned it.  I'm not saying that as a bad thing--if anything, it shows the range of her abilities as a writer.

The beginning of the novel intrigued me.  Jude, flying home to Canada after visiting her mother in the UK, realizes mid-flight that the man sitting next to her on the plane has died.  Sile (pronounced Sheila) is the flight attendant that she flags down, and Sile takes charge of the situation as Jude quietly panics.  The two of them end up sharing a cup of coffee after the incident is over, and a relationship is born.

I'd have to say this is probably the most unique romance novel I've read in a long time.  And not because it's a lesbian romance (though I admittedly don't have a lot of that in my reading past).  Sile and Jude's relationship is distinctive for so many other reasons; this is a May-September romance on crack.  The 14-year age gap is one thing, but is actually a relative non-issue compared to other differences.  Primarily, this includes their far-flung locations and their diverse personalities.  The novel's description doesn't do those dichotomies justice.  Jude is a staunch homebody, and an "old soul"...set in her ways, living in the same house she grew up in, no cell phone, and has never had an email account before meeting Sile.  Sile, on the other hand, is carefree, a jet-setter, attached to her smartphone, thrives among crowds of friends in big city settings.

Honestly, despite the proclaimed chemistry between the two throughout the novel, I had a hard time truly seeing them together for most of it.  They were just SO polar-opposite in many ways, that it was often difficult for me to believe that either of them would ever be willing to make the changes necessary to be with the other.  I tried to suspend my disbelief as much as possible, and towards the end I started to soften towards them a bit, but that was probably my main dislike about the book.  I understand the idea of "opposites attract", but I think I could have done with just a few more similarities in this case.

My favorite relationships in the novel were actually between Jude and Sile and their respective friends.  Jude and Rizla (her best friend and ex-husband...kind of) have a great back-and-forth, and their history lends a lot to their interactions.  Sile's friend Jael is raunchy, crude, and downright hilarious, and her friend Marcus is witty and eminently likeable.  These side characters were a big part of what kept me interested in the plot.

Even though I had some trouble with the chemistry between Sile and Jude, I thought Donoghue did a good job with the progression of their relationship and the novel's ending.  I mean, the whole point here is that they are both exploring their personal identities, and trying to determine what is worth changing for their partner--so despite the whole thing about them being opposites, Donoghue does delve into their inner struggles very thoroughly.  Plus, I was completely unable to predict how the book would wrap up, and it was crafted it nicely--not cliched, not perfectly tied up, leaves you with a few questions unanswered.  It's about as vague of an ending as a romance novel can have, without being unsatisfactory.

Overall, I'd say if you are looking for a one-of-a-kind romance, Landing is a good bet.  Donoghue builds very distinctive characters (both primary and supporting), which lends a fun atmosphere to the entire novel.  You may just need to be more of a believer in extreme "opposites attract" than I am!  And don't expect this to be similar to Donoghue's Room--this novel is a complete gear-switch in comparison.

Other reviews of Landing:
Bonjour, Cass!
Secluded Charm
Casey The Canadian Lesbrarian
 
Imagination Designs