Found via: 2010 Lambda Literary Award Finalist
The subtitle on this should really be "Twelve stories of sex." I really don't want to think of myself as a prude, but there are a lot of teenagers/young adults getting it on in this book - including a poem that wouldn't be out of place in an erotica collection. If ever there was a book that seemed intent on catching the attention of the book-banners, this is it.
I'll admit, that I was a bit put off from this book from page 2, during the introduction, before the stories has even started. As I tweeted on Tuesday, the introduction refers only (and repeatedly) to "gay, lesbian and transgender" folks. As someone who identifies under the "B" in the LGBT acronym, the forgotten bisexual reference really stuck out for me. Now it's totally possible that no stories featuring bisexual characters were submitted (though there are two stories that feature men sleeping with and/or marrying women as well as sleeping with men), but I wish that had been acknowledged in the introduction. I don't want to play oppression Olympics, but I'd bet that bisexual characters are almost as invisible as transgender characters.
So I was already spoiling for a fight with this collection. I was ready to relax after reading the first story and title piece by David Levithan. It's haunting and beautiful, addressed directly to the reader from the general collective of gay people from the past. From there the quality was rather uneven. Stories about gay men outnumber the stories about lesbians which outnumber the stories about transgendered teens. I gradually lost interest as the book went on until I about quit halfway through Gregory Maguire's incredibly long concluding story. I actually like the plot of that one, but it just dragged on for way too long, which isn't a way I'd describe Maguire's other work.
The other 2010 Lambda Literary Award finalists for YA lit are:
Ash by Malinda Lo
In Mike We Trust by PE Ryan
Sprout by Dale Peck
The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd
I've read (and linked to my reviews) Ash and Vast Fields of Ordinary, so of the three that I've read so far, I'm rooting for Ash to take the award. I'm waiting for Sprout from the library, but they don't have In Mike We Trust yet, so I don't think I'm going to be able to read all of the nominees before the May 1st award ceremony. What I don't understand is how something as uneven and unsatisfactory as this collection can be nominated while great, groundbreaking books like Almost Perfect and Rage are totally ignored.
If you're a fan of David Leviathan, I can definitely recommend picking up this book from the library to read his short story. If you are looking for more transgender representation in YA lit, the stories in here are good. There are also at least three stories featuring people of color: one about a transgender young man who is half black, half white, another about a gay Thai man and the protagonist of Maguire's concluding story is Iranian-American. If you want some lesbian poetry that is sure to be dogeared and passed illicitly among tittering friends at the lunch table, then this would be worth a look as well. Otherwise, pass.