Posts Tagged ‘compassionate’

The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves

November 7, 2012

Author: Anthology, 64 contributing authors

Title: The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 281

Geographical Setting: N/A

Time Period: Present (some flashbacks to authors’ adolescence).

Plot Summary: What would you write if you could send a letter to your young adult self? This question is explored in The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves as sixty-four LGBT authors, including Michael Cunningham and Amy Bloom, create an anthology of letters written to themselves as teenagers. While each letter is unique and distinctive, the collection as a whole discusses topics such as: exploring self-identity, the sometimes painful process of coming out, and encouragement and hope for bright futures ahead. Some authors write letters that are nostalgic and humorous as they discuss memorable moments from their adolescence, a well-remembered love for Barbara Streisand’s Broadway albums for example. Other letters take on a more serious tone with discussions of bullying or teenage self-loathing. Despite the variety of moods present in this anthology, the collective message found in the text is hopeful and reassuring with promises of happy adulthood in a more tolerant society. In addition to content, the letters are also unique in format. While the majority of entries consist of traditional letters, others are written in free verse or graphic novel form. This anthology of unsent letters makes for an emotional read that is heartwarming at times while tearful at others. Written in a conversational tone, The Letter Q is an honest and endearing read about courage and self-acceptance that will appeal to both teen and adult readers.

Subject Headings: Coming out (Sexual orientation), Gay men, Self-acceptance, Social situations, Teenage, Teenagers, Gays-Identity, Adolescence

Three Appeal Terms: Hopeful, Humorous, Nostalgic

Appeal: Compassionate, Heartwarming, Hopeful, Humorous, Nostalgic, Optimistic, Flashbacks, Issue-Oriented, Thought-Provoking, Candid, Conversational, Multiple Points of View.

Non-Fiction Read-Alikes:

Oddly Normal: One Family’s Struggle to Help their Teenage Son Come to Terms with his Sexuality by John Schwartz

Written by a New York Times correspondent, Schwartz tells the heartbreaking story of his thirteen-year-old son’s attempt to commit suicide after coming out to friends and family. The near tragedy becomes an uplifting tale as Schwartz recounts his mission to make his teenage son feel safe and supported. Fans of The Letter Q who are looking for additional true coming out stories that are both positive and encouraging may also enjoy this title.

Queer: the ultimate LGBT guide for teens by Kathy Belge

Structured as a guidebook for young adults, Queer offers advice on a wide range of topics including dating, sex, and homophobia. For young adults who appreciated the guidance and suggestions provided in The Letter QQueer may be helpful additional reading for teens who are seeking more resources on coming out.

When I Knew (2005)

A collection of anecdotes from eighty contributing writers, When I Knew authors describe the moment they realized they were gay and the coming out process that followed. When I Knew may appeal to Q fans who are looking for additional anthologies of coming out stories that are both inspiring and humorous.

Fiction Read-Alikes:

My most excellent year: a novel of love, Mary Poppins, & Fenway Park by Steve Kluger

My Most Excellent Year is narrated by three young adults from Boston who share their experiences of love and friendship through letters, emails, and instant messages. This trio of unique characters consists of  T.C., who is baseball-obsessed and has made a hobby of writing letters to his deceased mother; Alejandra, whose father is an ambassador to Mexico and holds Jacqueline Kennedy as her role model; and Augie, a musical theater fanatic who shares his own coming out story. Young adult readers who enjoyed the multiple voices included in The Letter Q may appreciate this humorous coming-of-age/coming out story told through three narrators. My Most Excellent Year’s format of letters, emails, and texts might also appeal to Q fans.

Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom
 by Emily Franklin

High school senior Lucas is thoroughly shocked when his lifelong best friend, Tessa, turns down his prom invitation and also comes out to him as a lesbian. Wanting to wear a tux and bring her girlfriend to the dance, Tessa is faced with Lucas’ betrayal of spreading her secret and the town’s backlash towards her determination to attend the prom.  readers who are looking for another inspiring yet humorous coming out story told through multiple perspectives might appreciate this title.

Absolutely, Positively Not by David LaRochelle

Sixteen-year-old Steven embarks on a mission to prove to himself that, despite his doubts, he is straight. His adventures include dating a slue of his female classmates, socializing with the jocks, and a comical attempt to purchase a Playboy. When Steven finally admits to himself that he is gay, he comes out to his best friend who responds with overwhelming enthusiasm and urges him to share the good news with everyone he knows. Similar to The Letter Q, Absolutely, Positively Not is endearing, hopeful, and hilarious. Q fans who are seeking additional believable, light-hearted coming out stories might enjoy this book.

Annotation by: Elizabeth Hopkins

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The Color of Water

August 14, 2012

Author:  James McBride

Title:  The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

Genre:  Nonfiction, Multicultural, Biography, Memoir

Publication Date:  1996

Number of Pages: 285

Geographical Setting:  Suffolk, Virginia, New York City

Time Period:  1930s-1990s.

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  “God is the color of water. Water doesn’t have a color.”

Growing up, James McBride noticed his mother did not look like him or his eleven brothers and sisters.  She didn’t look like anyone in the New York projects where they lived.  He would repeatedly ask her why she does not look like they do; she’d reply she was light skinned, that was she was a human being and not to worry about it, anything to not talk about it.  None of that matter to her; what mattered was school and church.  As an adult, James persuaded his mother, Ruth to tell her story.  She shared the story of a Jewish girl born in Poland to a Rabbi and her loving mother, immigrating to the United States, and raised in the south.  When she was twenty, she escaped to Harlem, where she married a black man in the 1940s, and converted to Christianity, thereby renouncing her Jewish background and family.  This biographical memoir takes the readers into Ruth’s world, growing up in the 1930’s to the present, while also taking readers into James’s upbringing in Ruth’s household in the 1960s.

Subject Headings:  Racially mixed people – New York (State) – New York – Biography, Mothers – New York (State) – New York – Biography, Whites – New York (State) – New York – Biography, Racially mixed people –Race identity, New York (N.Y.) – Biography.  Family and Relationships – Families.  Biography – Everyday People.  Christianity.  Judaism.

Appeal:  Inspirational, character-driven, heartwarming, thoughtful, leisurely-paced, steady, compassionate, flawed, realistic, sympathetic, family-centered, intimate, thoughtful.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Inspirational, character-driven, thoughtful.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He was Black by Gregory Howard Williams.  The author recounts the shocking experience of learning his father’s relatives in Indiana were poor and Black and the resulting prejudice him and his brother experienced from both sides.  Like Color of Water, these two memoirs address a young man’s search for his racial and ethnic identity while growing up with a white mother and an African-American father.

The Color of Love: A Mother’s Choice in Jim Crow South by Gene Cheek.  This memoir presents a story surrounding the year 1963 in during the Jim Crow era, where the author was removed from his mother’s custody because she has a half-mixed baby.  While the exact circumstances differ, both books are moving accounts of the southern United States, racial tension, poverty and the struggle for identity and feeling of belonging.

The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South by Eli N. Evans, Willie Morris.  This is a classic portrait of Jews in the South.   Authors Evans and Morris takes readers inside the nexus of southern and Jewish histories.  This book gives the reader a closer look to what it was like to be Jewish in the south, straddling the line between black and white, that Ruth McBride Jordan experienced.

 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

Stopping for Green Lights by Alyce Miller.  This coming of age book set in the 1960s is about a cynical young white woman, yearning to fit in with her Black friends, falling in love with a nineteen year old Black man, who teaches her a hard lesson by his betrayal.  This fictional account shares similar subject and appeal terms, like coming of age, racial identity and the sixties, which was part of the back drop in The Color of Water.

Joshua’s Bible by Shelly Leanne. Philadelphia minister Joshua Clay is sent to South Africa, to be the first black minister in years.  He struggles to minister during the apartheid-era 1930s.  This story shares the Christianity tones, racial struggle and adversity during a time period that was featured in The Color of Water.

The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank. This fictional tale follows observations by Sophie Applebaum of her Jewish Pennsylvania family over the course of twenty years.  This story is a readalike because it features the dynamic of a Jewish family.

Name:  Olivia Button

Swamplandia!

August 8, 2012

Author:  Karen Russell

Title:  Swamplandia!

Genre:  Literary Fiction/Best sellers

Publication Date:  2011

Number of Pages:  416

Geographical Setting:  Florida Everglades

Time Period:  late 20th century (1980’s)

Plot Summary:  Thirteen-year-old Ava loves the alligator-wrestling life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades.  When her mom—the theme park’s main attraction– dies, the family’s way of life is threatened.  The father goes to the mainland on a business venture; her sister falls in love with a ghost and disappears; and her big brother, Kiwi, gets a job at a rival park called The World of Darkness.  Ava sets out with the eccentric bird-man on a mission through the magical swamps to save her sister, but then she has to save herself.

Subject Headings:  Girls-fiction; Motherless families-fiction; Amusement parks-fiction; Alligators-fiction; Everglades (Florida)-fiction.

Appeal: offbeat, witty, mystical, lyrical, quirky characters, vivid, imaginative, detailed setting, strong sense of place, compassionate, uneasy, changing points of view (two).

3 terms that best describe this book:  imaginative, lyrical, strong sense of place.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Florida Everglades by Connie M. Toops

History of the Florida Everglades, which is where Swamplandia takes place.

Crocodiles and Alligators of the World by David Alderton

Information on origins, evolution and distribution, courtship, reproduction, and many individual species paint a thorough portrait, with maps of their habitats.  References and pictures.  Besides wrestling them, Ava has a pet alligator baby.

The Enduring Seminoles:  From Alligator Wrestling to Ecotourism by Patsy West

Seminole Indians (mentioned in Swamplandia) and economic culture; Florida history, culture and tourism.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai

A young postal worker in a small Indian town, Sampath, climbs into a guava tree and becomes unintentionally famous as a holy man, setting off a series of events that spin increasingly out of control.  Humorous, offbeat and strong sense of place.

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Similar to Swamplandia, because the teen girl is surviving without help of adults, there are descriptions of nature, and a similar writing style.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

A zookeeper’s son, Pi Patel, sets sail for America, but when the ship sinks, he escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals until only he and a hungry Bengal tiger remain.  It’s a journey with animals and literary.

Name:  Sonia Reppe

 

The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution

April 11, 2012

cover
Author:  Pagan Kennedy

Title:  The First Man-Made Man:  The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution

Genre:  GLBTQ, Non-fiction

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages:  224

Geographical Setting:  Great Britain, India

Time Period:  1920s-1960s

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  Michael Dillon wasn’t the most famous person to undergo gender reassignment surgery, but he was the first.  Born Laura Dillon, Michael spent years feeling as if he had been given the wrong body, and at the age of 24 began seeking out ways to correct this problem, beginning with testosterone pills and continuing through the successful creation of a penis by a noted plastic surgeon.  Despite getting what he wanted, life did not continue on in the easy fashion that he had hoped for—his family disowned him, he fell in love with a male-to-female transgender individual upon whom he performed illegal surgery, and his quest for spiritual enlightenment took some surprising turns.  The leisurely pace makes the story easy to read, and this book features a straightforward writing style and historical details, especially of a medical nature.

Subject Headings:

  • Dillon, Michael, — 1915-1962.
  • Transsexuals — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Sex change — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Gender identity — Great Britain.
  • Cowell, Roberta, — 1918-
  • Transsexualism — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Gender Identity — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Genitalia — surgery — Great Britain.
  • History, 20th Century — Great Britain.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy — history — Great Britain.
  • Transvestism — Great Britain — Biography.

Appeal:  deliberate, leisurely paced, flawed characters, multiple plot lines, thought-provoking, tragic, historical details, details of medical advancements, accessible, informative, straightforward, compassionate

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  straightforward, informative, historical details

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders—Jennifer Finney Boylan:  This book also tells the story of a person changing genders, but it’s a memoir and provides a personal look at the process.

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl—John Colapinto:  Examines similar gender issues, but looks at them through the story of, as the subtitle states, a boy who was raised as a girl from birth, complete with surgery to make him appear anatomically female.

Fun Home:  A Family Tragicomic–Alison Bechdel:  This graphic memoir examines family dynamics through the story of the author’s coming out as a lesbian to her closeted gay father, who commits suicide soon after.  Both of these books deal with issues of sexuality and gender.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Middlesex—Jeffrey Eugenides:  This novel explores a secret family history that has led to Callie’s existence as an intersex individual.  Much like Michael Dillon, she has always felt something was off, and has to decide how to proceed.

Stone Butch Blues—Leslie Feinberg:  The main character, Jess, is living as a man in the 1960’s and 1970’s, dealing with society’s pressures and prejudices.   This book has themes of identity and community that relate it to The First Man Made Man.

Sacred Country—Rose Tremain:  Follows Mary through decades of her life as she attempts to change her gender, and deals with issues of identity and loneliness.

Name:  Amanda

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

March 26, 2012

Author: Chua, Amy

Title: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 237

Geographical Setting: America

Time Period: Current

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: A story of a Chinese born American mother exercising extreme parenting. Amy Chua is married to a Caucasian husband and has two daughters. She raises them the “Chinese” way because she believes the Western way of parenting would not prepare them enough for the future. She has her children playing violin and piano, and makes them work hard to become number one. A few things she lists in her book that she does not allow her daughters to do are:

  • Have a playdate
  • Be in a school play
  • Complain about not being in a school play
  • Not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • Play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • Not play the piano or violin

This book shows the difference between the stereotypical way of Eastern and Western parenting. This book is dramatic, full of bittersweet relationships between mother and daughters, and is also heartwarming. This is a memoir of a competitive, prideful Chinese mother raising her children the “Chinese” way, and should not be taken as a sort of parenting guide.

Subject Headings:Chua, Amy.
Mothers United States Biography.
Chinese American women Biography.
Mothers and daughters China.
Mothers and daughters United States.

Appeal: moderately-paced, bittersweet, compassionate, dramatic, heartwarming, moving, inspiring, intriguing, realistic, sympathetic, family-centered, academic, ambitious, prideful, funny, and well-written.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Bittersweet, dramatic, and heartwarming

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Tung, May Pao-may – Chinese Americans and Their Immigrant Parents: conflict, identity, and values (Book about dilemmas the younger and older Chinese generations must face in American Society as well as the differences between the two cultures)

Loh, Sandra Tsing – Aliens in America (A struggle of a girl and her parents, a German mother and a Chinese father, in America)

Mah, Adeline Yen – Falling Leaves: the true story of an unwanted Chinese daughter (The journey of a young Chinese girl as she searches for acceptance, love, and understanding)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Bates, Judy Fong – Midnight at the Dragon Café (Story of a Chinese mother and daughter living in Ontario in the 1950s, trying to forge their lives in a foreign land)

Carter, Forrest – The Education of Little Tree (Childhood remembrance of an orphaned American Indian boy living in Tennessee with his Cherokee grandparents)

Tan, Amy – The Joy Luck Club (Story of two generations of Chinese American women and their daughters)

Name: Jun Yoon

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

March 21, 2012

Author: Green, John (and David Levithan)

Genre: GLBT, Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 310

Geographical Setting: Chicago

Time Period: Current

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  Will Grayson and will grayson, are troubled teens that live around the Chicagoland area. One is straight (Will Grayson) and the other is gay (will grayson). The straight Will Grayson is a teen who does not want to draw attention nor be noticed by anyone, but having a friend named Tiny Cooper, who is a big lovable gay teen who is in search of romantic relationships and is planning to make a fabulous musical about his life, does not help. The gay will grayson is a teen who has nothing good going on in his life, except for a boy he met online named Isaac and his friend Maura. Both Will Grayson and will grayson end up crossing paths when will grayson goes to meet Isaac. This meeting changes the lives of Will Grayson, will grayson, Tiny Cooper, and Maura, who has an interest in will grayson. This story is dramatic throughout the book and is very realistic. The story is very moving, full of bittersweet romance but funny.

Subject Headings: Interpersonal relations Juvenile fiction – Dating (Social customs) – Homosexuality – Overweight persons – Theater – Names, Personal fiction – Chicago (Ill.) Fiction.

Appeal: Fast-paced, intricately plotted, bittersweet, funny, gentle, dramatic, moving, hopeful, romantic, thoughtful, compassionate, multiple points of view, realistic, strong secondary character, touching, thought-provoking, and sympathetic.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Bittersweet, funny, and touching.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Huegel, Kelly – GLBTQ: the survival guide for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens (Guide/advice for GLBTQ teens)

Swain, Keith W. – Dynamic Duos: the alpha/beta key to unlocking success in gay relationships (A guide for gay men to finding Mr. Right)

Bergquist, Kathie – A Field Guide to Gay & Lesbian (A guide for gay and lesbians around the Chicago).

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Elkeles, Simone – Perfect Chemistry (series) (A love relationship between two teenagers, where their friends disapprove of their relationship. This is told in multiple perspectives and it is a realistic fiction)

Hopkins, Ellen – Tricks (GLBT/realistic fiction told in multiple perspectives. A story of five teenagers that falls into prostitution and tries to find their way back to freedom and happiness)

Magruder, James– Sugarless (GLBT fiction which takes place in Chicago suburbs. A story about a teen who copes with his life by joining a speech team. He later has an affair with a speech coach from a rival school).

Name: Jun Yoon

American Gods

February 11, 2012

Author: Gaiman, Neil

Title: American Gods

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 592

Geographical Setting: America

Time Period: Current

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: 

Shadow, before being released from prison, finds out that his wife has been killed. On his way home, he is confronted by a man known as Mr. Wednesday, who seems to know a lot about Shadow and offers him a job as a bodyguard. Shadow’s acceptance of this offer takes him on a dangerous journey. Shadow is used for many strange tasks and he encounters things he never knew existed as well as various gods living in America. This novel follows the story of Shadow but at the end of each chapter, a little story about a certain god living in America can be found. Shadow, a gritty man, takes the reader on an adventure full of suspense and haunting images.

Subject Headings: National characteristics, American Fiction; Spiritual warfare Fiction; Ex-convicts Fiction; Bodyguards Fiction; Widowers Fiction; Fantasy fiction.

Appeal: Fast-paced, character-driven, intricately plotted, darkly humorous, dramatic, romantic, haunting, gritty, thought-provoking, suspenseful, macabre, witty, adventurous, compassionate, familiar, and well-developed.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Darkly humorous, macabre, and haunting.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors: Erikson, Steven – Crippled God (A mortal woman challenging the gods); Parker, T. Jefferson – Storm Runners (Taking place in California, an ex-cop loses his whole family from a bomb explosion and takes on a job as a bodyguard); Harrison, Kim – Pale Demon (A bounty hunter goes on a cross-country drive across America with supernatural companions to clear her name).

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors: Azzarello, Brian – Filthy Rich (Vertigo Crime) (A hired bodyguard who ends up committing murder for his boss); Henderson, Jeff – Cooked: from the streets to the stove, from cocaine to foie gras (Story of an ex-convict who becomes an executive chef); Bailey, John – Gods and men: myths and legends from the world’s religion (Mythical Gods).

Name: Jun Yoon

Sing You Home

December 2, 2011

Author: Jodi Picoult

Title: Sing You Home

Genre: GLBTQ

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 480

Geographical Setting: Rhode Island

Time Period: Present day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Zoe and Max Baxter have been plagued by infertility and the birth of a still-born. Zoe desperately wants to continue trying to conceiving while Max has reached his limits. IVF treatments have caused a strain in their marriage that ultimately leads to divorce. Post-divorce, Zoe, a music therapist, finds friendship in the arms of an unexpected friend, Vanessa. Max reverts to alcoholism, and a near-death car accident leads him to become a born-again Christian. Zoe and Vanessa’s relationship blossoms into love, and eventually the couple wants to use Max and Zoe’s frozen embryos for a child. Max does not approve of the relationship, or using the embryos which causes a court battle over the rights of the embryos. Picoult brings a controversial and current issue to the forefront in this thought-provoking novel.

Subject Headings: infertility issues, IVF, divorce, Christianity-homosexuality, lesbian relationships, embryo freezing, music therapy, gay- lesbian rights

Appeal: Current events, character-driven, plot-driven, moving, compelling, lyrical, thought-provoking, compassionate, realistic characters, domestic, issue-oriented, contemporary

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: issue oriented, compassionate, thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

An Introduction to Music Therapy Theory and Practices (3rd Edition) by William B. Davis, Gfeeller and Thaut. A comprehensive overview of the practice of music therapy for the 21st century. It covers the origins, present, and future of music therapy. This book is a good introduction for those interested in music therapy as a career or just wanting to learn more about Zoe’s job in Sing You Home.

Every Drunken Cheerleader: Why Not Me? By Kristine Ireland Waits. Women and with infertility difficulties will enjoy the wisdom, humor and warmth of this book filled with information. It provide inspiration for those most challenging times—baby shows, husbands, insurance—and how to cope. Women will laugh, cry and nod their heads in understanding while they read through this book.

Gay and Lesbian Rights in United States: A Documentary History by Walter L. Williams. The history of America’s gay and lesbian community’s struggle for civil and equal rights. This collection of primary documents examines counter-arguments, provides different viewpoints and look at the complexity of gay and lesbian rights. A nice companion to Sing You Home for a reader looking to learn more about gay and lesbian rights in America.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Blessed Event by Jean Reynolds Page. Childhood friend Joanne agrees to be surrogate mother for Darla. However, a freak accident that leaves Joanne brain damaged and in a coma but the baby alive.  Darla and Joanne’s family now are fighting over the rights of Joanne’s body. With a controversial and current issue this book draws similarities between Sing you Home over moral issues.

Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner. Four women quickly become closely involved when the pregnant one’s husband suddenly dies. The four women include an ivy-league egg-donor, working-class surrogate housewife, and the wealthy pregnant woman and her stepdaughter. This book weaves women’s lives and relationships with present day issues.

A Seahorse Year by Stacey D’Erasmo. A San Franciscan teen goes missing and his parents are frantic trying to find him. Christopher was raised by a gay mother and father and suffers from schizophrenia. The novel delves into the complexity of growing up as a child in a gay parenthood.

Name: Noelle Swanson

Blankets

November 30, 2011

Author: Craig Thompson

Title:  Blankets

Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 592

Geographical Setting: Midwest

Time Period: 1970’s – Present Day

Plot Summary:  The story follows Craig’s life starting with him as a child dealing with ultra-religious conservative parents in a poor household.  The love/hate relationship he has with his younger brother is both funny and heartwarming, and includes some of the most touching parts of the story.  As Craig grows up religion plays a big part in his life.  It is on one of the trips to winter bible camp that he meets his first love Raina.  His questioning of religion and his experiences with things such as young love are major themes throughout the book and are what mold him into the man he is today.  The novel concludes with Craig as an adult, no longer a Christian, walking through the snow by himself musing over his life.  The heavy black and white art of the book is expressive as Craig uses the simplicity of the two colors to highlight the emotions of the scene.  Backgrounds seamlessly move from dark and ominous to light and free flowing as the emotions change.  The last line of the book elegantly summarizes the feeling of the novel as a whole, “How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface, to make a map of my movement no matter how temporary.”

Subject Headings: Thompson, Craig, 1975-, Teenage boys, First loves, Evangelicalism, Brothers, Church, camps, Compulsive behavior in men, Childhood, Teenage artists, Teenage boy/girl relations, Separated, friends, relatives, etc., Belief and doubt, Artistic ability in children, New experiences

Appeal: Moving, compelling, bittersweet, candid, compassionate, earnest, emotionally-charged, evangelistic, gentle, heartwarming, introspective, nostalgic, thoughtful, familiar, introspective, realistic, well-drawn, character-centered, accessible

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: moving, nostalgic, emotionally-charged

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic  by Alison Bechdel

When Alison Bechdel was in college her father was killed by a car while crossing the road.  In this autobiographical work the narrative revolves around her father’s death and, a few months earlier, Alison learning her father was gay.  The book digs into Alison’s past to uncover her father’s secret life and the strings that connect father to daughter.  An emotionally charged graphic memoir that will appeal to fans of Blankets with its beautiful depiction of daily American life.

Epileptic by David B.

When David is 9 his older brother begins to suffer from epileptic seizures of devastating frequency and intensity.  The family moves from traditional treatments, which do no good, to mysticism, which fairs no better.  Eventually his brother embraces his illness as it gives him the excuse to never have to deal with adult life.  David’s parents grow more and more upset as all options to treat their son disappear one by one.  Meanwhile David withdraws into his artwork to have conversations with his growing posse of imaginary friends.   Similar to Blankets with the relationship the two brothers had with each other.

Stitches  by David Small

Stitches is the memoir of David Small telling the story of his childhood in 1950’s Detroit.  His mother is a stern woman with a dark mood who expresses her feelings with soft coughs and the slamming of cabinet doors in the kitchen.  His father is a cold silent radiologist who believes in the power of science so much he treats his son’s sinus problems with doses of x-rays.  When David is 11 a lump on his neck is discovered but because of a tight family budget he is not treated right away.  After his father gets a promotion his parents go on a spending spree; buying a new car and lavish furniture to keep up the pretense that they are part of the upper class.  It is not until David is 14 that his parents finally bring him in to get the growth removed.  When he wakes up not only is the growth gone but so is his Thyroid and half his vocal cords.  This leaves him with a gash on his neck, “slashed and laced back up like a bloody boot”, effectively making him a mute.  Through this experience David tries to find his voice physically and mentally while dealing with a largely unattached and emotionless family.  A graphic memoir that will tug at the heartstrings of the most hardened reader.   David, just like Craig in Blankets, finds his true voice while struggling to leave the shadow of his family’s beliefs.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson

This story has been told before; struggling artists in New York just trying to make it in this crazy world.  What Alex Robinson does with the story is brilliant.  Every character is so well fleshed out you would swear you had met them before in your own life.  There are no good guys and no bad guys in this story, just real people with real problems doing the best he or she can.  The feel of the story and the realistic characters will appeal to fans of Blankets.

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

The story starts with Polyp whose apartment was recently set on fire due to a freak lightning strike.  He manages to salvage some things from his apartment and goes as far away from his old life as possible.   Obsessed with his past and what led him to such a miserable existence Asterios begins his new life as a mechanic and starts to, even though he doesn’t realize it at first, let go of his old life and renew himself.   Will appeal to people who enjoyed the setting of Blankets

Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine

A collection of four stories from Adian Tomine’s Optic Nerve series.  Slice of life stories all taking place in California and starring twenty-somethings trying to find love, or just any sort of human connection.  The title story is about a boy who has a crush on the cute girl behind the counter of his local general store.  Every day he buys a greeting card from her but never musters up the courage to actually ask her out until it’s too late.  His womanizing neighbor starts going out with her and all the boy is left with is a large pile of cards and a broken heart.  Adrian’s characters are flawed everyday individuals filled with insecurities and misguided intentions that no one would notice in a crowd.  Tales of love lost and romance gone wrong will appeal to fans of the love story in Blankets.

Name: Jason Rock

The Heat Seekers by Zane

November 16, 2011
 

Author: Zane

Title: The Heat Seekers

Genre: Urban Fiction /African American

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 320

Geographical Setting: Washington, D.C.

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: In addition to the witty dialogue and steamy sex that Zane is known for, The Heat Seekers is also a saga of two strong women who face some serious issues and manage to overcome them. Best friends Janessa and Tempest have all but given up on finding straight, single, good-looking men who are not “freaks.” Out to have some fun one night, they go to a local club to “get their groove on.” As chance would have it, they end up meeting two eligible men who are also best friends. Geren is handsome, available, seemingly perfect, and is very interested in Tempest. Dvonte is a cute and charming “playa” who nonetheless wins Janessa’s heart. Erotic tension builds for Tempest and Geren as they wait to consummate their love, while Janessa and Dvonte are not ashamed to express their desires. As each couple embarks on their different relationships, the drama builds as each confront issues that could threaten their fairy tale romances. Despite the focus on sexual love, at the heart of this novel is the caring relationship these two women have with each other, and their ability to help each other through rough times. This is an entertaining, thought provoking novel that encourages readers to reflect on their own lives and accomplishments. It also has enough humor and steamy sex scenes to satisfy any reader.

Subject Headings: African American, Urban Fiction, Erotic Fiction, Unwanted Pregnancy, Contemporary Romance Appeal: candid, emotionally charged, dramatic, compassionate, humorous, romantic, sensual, erotic, playful, sympathetic characters, well developed characters, evocative, insightful, character centered, steamy, issue oriented, racy, resolved ending, strong language, sexually explicit, steamy, thought provoking, contemporary, urban, accessible, conversational

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: steamy, thought provoking, humorous

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

How Stella Got her Groove Back by Terry McMillan. Like The Heat Seekers, this book features a strong, African American protagonist who embarks on a passionate love affair and provides the reader with a fairy tale ending.

Sweeter than Honey by Mary B Morrison. This is a steamy, urban tale. Like The Heat Seekers, it features a strong female African American protagonist who encounters drama and has to overcome adversity. It also deals with complex, thought-provoking issues.

True to the Game by Teri Woods. This gritty, urban tale is grittier than The Heat Seekers, yet it provides readers with a similar steamy love affair between passionate African American characters. Like The heat Seekers, this novel deals with some of the serious issues facing contemporary young people.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors In Good Conscience: a Practical, Emotional, and Spiritual Guide to Deciding Whether to Have an Abortion by Anna Runkle. Multiple characters in The Heat Seekers deal with unwanted pregnancy, all in different ways. One character deals with a very difficult abortion. This guide will help readers who may be facing the same situation to think their pregnancy through before making a decision.

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: a Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether To Stay in or Get Out of your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum. In The Heat Seekers, Janessa stays in a bad relationship with Dvonte. Readers who are dealing with a similar situation in their lives may find help in this chatty, sympathetic relationship guide.

 Men, Love & Sex: the Complete User’s Guide for Women by David Zinczenko with Ted Spiker. The relationships in The Heat Seekers are complicated and the men sometimes seem like they are from another planet. At the same time, the characters are all having satisfying sexual adventures. This book would be great for readers who want to understand the other sex a little more or simply put some spark into their sex lives.

Name: Meghan Maleski