Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gay Parents in YA

Kris Asselin is hosting "Where Are the Gay Parents in YA?" this week on her blog, and I'm happy to be part of it! Please visit Kris's blog for her posts this week and links to other blogs (including to my buddy Jon Arntson's) that are participating this week.

I usually don't "review" books, because I just don't think I do them justice as a reviewer. Yes, I am a writer, but for some reason, I cannot eloquently write a review well. Go figure. So here is my take on a book.  Not necessarily a review (though it was excellent in my opinion), but my thoughts on it.

Last week I read PEARL by Jo Knowles as I knew it featured a gay parent. As I started reading the story, I was so into the story that I forgot the reason why I chose this book in the first place: because I wanted to participate in this week's "Where Are the Gay Parents?" Okay, I had also heard it was a great book. But as I was reading the story, the mom has a close friend, and because I was so immersed in the storyline, I didn't realize that the "close friend" was more than that until further into the book (but before the main character realizes it). Jo Knowles wrote this book in first person from teenager, Pearl's (nickname, Bean) point of view. Since Bean didn't realize who this close friend of her mother's really was, neither did I as the reader, because I was inside Bean's head. (The realization that Bean's mother is gay may be considered a spoiler alert, but due to the topic of the blog post, it does need to be addressed here.)

What is the story about? It's about two families: Bean's family and her best friend Henry's family. Both families have secrets of their own. Both families are a bit dysfunctional but in different ways. Bean and her mother don't get along, but not because of her mom's choice of lifestyle. Bean has no idea about that until further into the book, and I really like the way how Bean handles that.

Three reasons I love this book:
1. Love the friendship between Henry and Bean. They are saviors for each other. Plus they are just regular kids. Not a hot vampire. Not the star of the swim team. Just two regular kids.

2. I do like the way the homosexuality is addressed in this book. Even though it is a plot twist, it isn't sensational. The female couple just seem like two people who love and care about each other. Best friends who are lovers, too. Very straight forward.

3. This book was a quick read, and there were many well written relationships within the book: Bean's close relationship with her grandfather, Bean's tumultous relationship with her mother, Bean's friendship with Henry, Bean's relationship with Henry's mom, and of course, Bean's mom and her partner. Each relationship was unique and interesting and added a twist to the story and interesting facets to the plotline.

Do I recommend this book? Yes, very much! Don't forget to stop by Kris's blog for more posts!

29 comments:

Joanna said...

Thanks for the tip, I shall visit Kris's blog. I LOVE all that Jo Knowles rights, including PEARL and can't wait to read SEE YOU AT HARRU's!

Tony Van Helsing said...

Sounds a bit girly for my tastes, no exploding helicopters. Yeah, I know I'm shallow.

E.J. Wesley said...

Lot of talk about the lack of diversity in YA in general of late, Kelly. Think it's a worthwhile discussion for sure. Have to put this book on 'the list' for future reading! :)

Anonymous said...

yes it is a great book. As is Jo's latest"See you at Harry's "
I'm glad for the kids that such topics as gay parents, are being written about in a 'normal' way.

storyqueen said...

Putting it on my list, too. And the cover...gorgeousness!

Thanks for the heads up about this book, and thanks for doing a post on this.

Shelley

LTM said...

Ahh, I saw this book on the SCBWI blog the other day b/c it won the Kite award. But hmm... now I'm feeling awkward b/c the MS of mine on sub features a similar twist. Zerg. :D Darn writers and their criss-crossing ideas--LOL!

I do think gay parents will emerge more as gay marriage becomes legal. It's the logical next step! <3

Matthew MacNish said...

This sounds like a great read, thanks, Kelly!

I'm curious to find a story in which a child struggles with the discovery of his or her parent's sexual orientation. I think, in particular, it might be hard for a boy to discover his father was gay.

Maybe I'll have to write one.

SA Larsenッ said...

This is a great subject for YA. To be honest with you, I haven't given it much thought. I definitely will now. It is a neglected area in YA lit, and if we're going to be true to life we must include all of teen life as it is today. Thanks for sharing this, Kelly.

Kelly Polark said...

Joanna- Yes, I want to read that one of hers too!!
Tony- We all have our different tastes in books! Thank goodness so there is a wide variety to choose from! :)
EJ- It's a well written, quick read!
Anon- I agree. I hope one day that different families will just be seen as mainstream as any.
Shelley- Thanks! And yes, the cover is gorgeous!
LTM- Don't worry if you have a similar twist. Your writing is unique. How many times has the Cinderella story been done and done well?
Matt- You'd think there has to be one out there, because kids will react in different ways. I'll have to check out the other reads on Kris's blog.
Sheri - Yes, I agree it is neglected. I have a feeling though that more diverse families will be featured in YA and MG in the next few years. At least I hope so.

Kittie Howard said...

Thanks for sharing, Kelly. (And you wrote a dynamite review!) The word 'diversity' begs for exploration as people exist who want to read about their worlds. Bravo for those stepping forward.

Lydia Kang said...

I think that would be the best way to handle this topic for this particular book (and many others)--without a crazy amount of drama or sensationalism. Great review, Kelly!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I am totally going to get a copy of this. GREAT review, Kelly! You should write MORE reviews. :)

Christina Lee said...

Oh YAY, because this book is on my list!!! Heading over to Kris'!

Kristine Asselin said...

Great review, Kelly! Thanks for participating! Pearl sounds great, and I love the way it sounds like Jo deals with the issue of same sex parents. It's going on my list!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Thanks for this wonderful review, Kelly. I've seen this title about, but I haven't read or heard a review. I'm happy to finally know what the book is about. And now I want to read it. : )

Shoshana said...

I agree, Kelly. If you liked this for its relationships, I definitely recommend Jo's other books, especially her most recent, See You at Harry's.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds like a great book Kelly. And you're a great book reviewer. So share other books with us if you like. I know the feeling though. I don't feel like a book reviewer either.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I'll keep an eye out for it...I think people are people...race, orientation, age....it's just how they are living their life and it's all part of our world.

Jonathon Arntson said...

Thanks for the perspectives, Kelly! I like your discussion about how each relationship in the book is a unique one. That's an important belief to have when voting on gay rights.

Thank you for participating! You make me smile.

cleemckenzie said...

Sounds as if the writer has nailed some excellent characters and created an interesting story--something different. I love that. Thanks for telling us about it, Kelly.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I didn't realize there were any YA books with gay parents. I've read a number in which the mc or a secondary teen character was gay, though.

Great review!!

Elana Johnson said...

I just bought another one of Jo's books -- SEE YOU AT HARRY'S. I'll have to add this one to my list too.

Missed Periods said...

That was actually a great (non)review. The book sounds fantastic.

Gina C said...

wonderful idea - it's so important to highlight diversity, and let people know where it exists!

i was thrilled when i read 'lola and the boy next door,' and i got to meet lola's two dads :)

Samantha Vérant said...

You did a great job as a reviewer, Kelly! This book sounds real and honest. Awesome.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Didn't know about the 'Where are the Gay Parents?' project but how fabulous that it led you to discover a new book you really enjoyed! Last book I read that featured gay parents was 'Lola and the Boy Next Door' and it was wonderful. Great review!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

That's how I felt about STICK. I was so immersed in the story, that everything else took a backseat to the storyline. That's how it should be, I think. I didn't even realize one of the characters was gay until the narrator did. So, so well done. I'll have to pick this one up.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Thanks for stopping by the blog for the indie hop, it was a lot of fun :)

Sara McClung said...

See, I think you do reviews quite well. :) I hadn't heard of this one, and now it's going on my TBR.