Saturday, October 8, 2011

Review: Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up edited by Steve Berman

This excellent collection of thirteen stories gathered and edited by Steve Berman for and about LGBT and Q young adults not only features stories that address the difficulties of coming out to friends and family, but most importantly Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up highlights experiences, changes and difficulties that affect and are experienced by young adults after that important step is taken.

The stories are as varied in style and content as are the writers themselves. L, G, B, T, and Q stories are all represented in this collection with gay and lesbian themes seemingly taking center stage, however you will find that the characters in all the stories are as varied as the challenges they face. The stories feature young adults and their struggles, triumphs, realizations, and lessons learned and taught.

I really want to mention all the stories. Instead here are a few as examples of the type of stories found in this wonderful collection. In Lucky P by Rigoberto González, a bisexual young man realizes that there's a difference between a crush and reciprocal love, and learning about pride, accepting support, and dealing with bullies after coming out in an all girl's Catholic high school is the subject of Gutter Ball by Danielle PignataroVictories, acceptance and respect are earned the hard way within the realm of high school sports in the multi-layered coming out story Captain of the World by Alex Jeffers where the focus falls on a Turkish young man whose struggles include battling prejudice against the Muslim religion and homophobia.

In Steve Berman's wonderful story Only Lost Boys are Found about closets and what they hide, two childhood friends fall in love but while one is out, the other needs rescuing when he gets lost and trapped in the maze that is his closet. The Proximity of Seniors by L.A. Fields on the other hand is all about finding that one unexpected friend who shares a mutual struggle and provides support throughout the worst and best of times during and after those high school years. I loved this story about a gay boy and a lesbian girl who become best friends for life.

Subtle Poison by Lucas J.W. Johnson is a fantastic story about the value or toxicity of friendship that features the challenges of being accepted as an FtM transgendered teen and a gay young man's battle with substance abuse, and Sparks of Change by Dia Pannes is all about a brave young woman who teaches her father and small town a lesson about ignorance, intolerance and acceptance of her lesbian teacher and hopefully her future self. Then there's The Trouble with Billy by Jeffrey Ricker, a wonderful story about two young men, one who is 'out' and barely dealing with daily bullying episodes, and the other full of rage. And I really enjoyed the lovely Duet: A Story in Haibun by Charles Jensen told in narrative and poetry style from the perspective of two male high school band musicians who are deeply in love: "how a pair of shoes, reflections of each, share the same body." 

Each story is prefaced by one page with a short anecdote from the author sharing a personal life experience with the reader. These short personalized notes effectively become a part of this collection and with few words all convey key, refreshingly candid moments or the need to have books like Speaking Out readily available.
"The last time this happened was in Decatur, Georgia. At the end of the presentation, a teenager comes up to me and asks in a timid voice: "Excuse me, Mr. González. Could you recommend some books about people like us?" People like us need to keep spreading the word." Rigoberto González.
In his introduction writer and editor Steve Berman says, "voices must be heard," well, they are heard here. Speaking Out is a collection of stories written by writers of LGBTQ young adult literature who not only capture their voice, but also understand the daily challenges they face. This collection is affirming, inspiring and informational.  I highly recommend it. Specifically recommended for LGBTQ young adults and those interested in supporting their friends, parents of both LGBTQ teens and those interested in teaching their teens tolerance, as well as to librarians in general. Pass it on.

Category: LGBTQ Young Adult
Series: None
Publisher/Release Date: Bold Stroke Books/September 12, 2011
Source: Bold Stroke Books
Grade: A-

Stories and authors in order of appearance:
"Lucky P" by Rigoberto González
"Day Student" by Sam Cameron
"Gutter Ball" by Danielle Pignataro
"Captain of the World" by Alex Jeffers
"The Proximity of Seniors by L.A. Fields
"Subtle Poison" by Lucas J.W. Johnson
"Forever is Composed of Nows" by Will Ludwigsen
"Spark of Change" by Dia Pannes
"The Trouble with Billy" by Jeffrey Ricker
"Only Lost Boys Are Found" by Steve Berman
"Waiting to Show Her" by Ann Tonsor Zeddies
"Duet" A Story in Haibun" by Charles Jensen
"All Gender U" by Sandra McDonald

2 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this anthology. I appreciate the review.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Steve, I enjoyed this collection from beginning to end. Excellent read!

    ReplyDelete

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