Guest post by Rebecca Peters-Golden
Being a housequeer is all about taking joy in our ability to make home whatever we want it to be. For me, that means always having just the right book for any mood. When I want to read cozily curled up in bed with my cat on my lap and forget the outside world on a wintry Tuesday I need a very different book than when I’m reading next to an open window on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Young Adult literature is one of my favorite things to read, and I write about it over at Crunchings and Munchings. So, for all of you who are looking for a great book to grab, I’ve prepared a list of my favorite recently-published (since 2000) queer YA lit. It has everything from high school realism to fantasy series, so I hope you can all find something you want to curl up with! There is also a slew of exciting-looking queer YA that will be published this spring and summer, so I’ll be back next month with a list of what to look out for. In the mean time, come on over to Crunchings and Munchings and check out some more YA books, movies, and television.
Sister Mischief by Laura Goode (2011)
Sister Mischief is the story of four best friends. Together, Esme (aka MC Ferocious), Marcy (aka DJ SheStorm), Tess (aka The ConTessa), and Rowie (aka MC Rohini) make up Sister Mischief, the hip-hop group that wants to take Holyhill (aka Holy Hell), Minnesota by storm. Along the way, they find first loves, lyrics, a PA hijacking, 4-H (Hip-Hop for Heteros and Homos, that is), and, of course, goats. Very fun book about a group of friends who take on the establishment with music! Perfect for folks who love a good dance/a cappella movie and secretly wish they could have done a direct action during a school talent show. Check out my complete review at Crunchings and Munchings HERE.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan (2010)
John Green’s latest book has gotten a ton of praise and David Levithan’s upcoming Two Boys Kissing has gotten a lot of press because of having a cover featuring . . . two boys kissing. But before any of that, they co-wrote one of the most fun and touching books I’ve ever read, Will Grayson, Will Grayson. This is the story of two high school boys, both named—drumroll!—Will Grayson. Green and Levithan each write one of the Will Graysons; Green’s WG is a go-with-the-flow, anti-drama sidekick type to Tiny, a falls-in-love-every-day, sings loudly, gay football player, and Levithan’s is a depressive malcontent who is “constantly torn between killing [him]self and killing everyone around [him]” (22). Of course, the two WGs must meet, and a musical must happen in the name of love! A serious you’ll-laugh-you’ll-cry read that’s just as good the second and third times around. Check out a two-part review over at Crunchings and Munchings HERE and HERE.
Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz (2013)
Teeth is a gorgeous, eerie, atmospheric book. When Rudy leaves everything he knows to move to an island whose magic fish might be able to cure his brother’s cystic fibrosis he knows things will never be the same. What he can’t know is that he’ll meet Fishboy, a merman who changes everything he knows about himself . . . and presents him with a life and death dilemma. How will Rudy choose between two people he loves? Read my complete review over at Crunchings and Munchings HERE. Teeth is the book that inspired me to make up a genre called oceanic gothic, which I write about HERE and which I dearly hope will become A Thing. Also, did I mention that Hannah Moskowitz is, like, a senior in college and has published six books? Amazing.
How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis (2012)
I just finished How to Repair a Mechanical Heart and I think it is the most adorable book I’ve ever read, and I don’t mean that in an infantilizing way, but in an I-want-to-have-sleepovers-with-it-every-Friday kind of way. Brandon and Abel are huge fans of Castaway Planet, a science fiction show, and they hate when bloggers write slash fiction about the two main characters—especially since those characters are their biggest tv crushes ever. They set out on a six-week odyssey to attend Castaway Planet conventions and prove once and for all that the space captain and the android are not in love . . . but they get more than they bargained for when they find themselves in the sights of the slashfic community. Totally hilarious and very moving. Author J.C. Lillis clearly knows how the fan community works and she brings it all to bear in How to Repair a Mechanical Heart. Serious, serious love for this self-published debut.
Witch Eyes (Witch Eyes #1) by Scott Tracey (2011)
I love a good supernatural series and Witch Eyes, the first in a trilogy, is a fast-paced story about the feud between two magical families. Braden has witch eyes—the ability to see through spells and lies to the truth of the world. After a vision shows him that his uncle (who raised him) is in danger, Braden returns to Belle Dam, where the truth of who he is reveals itself, but not before he finds himself making an enemy of the matriarch of another family . . . who just happens to be the mother of the guy he’s falling for. Witch Eyes is like the queer supernatural show you always wished the CW would run but of course it never will. Check out my full review at Crunchings and Munchings HERE.
Starting From Here by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (2012)
Colby’s mom died two years ago, her girlfriend just dumped her for a dude, and her dad is a long-haul truck driver, so he’s never home, leaving her alone in their trailer in Michigan. Just when it seems like things can’t get any worse, Colby sees a dog get hit by a car and left for dead on the highway. Gah! Colby takes the dog to the vet and even though she doesn’t know what she’s doing, she decides to take the dog home with her. Starting From Here is a story about a girl who has to really work to pull herself out of depression and let herself love again. Puppies! This is a quiet and lovely book that’s a must-read for any animal lovers. You can read a chat about the book on Crunchings and Munchings HERE, and you can read our interview with the lovely Lisa Jenn Bigelow HERE.
Beautiful Music For Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills (2012)
As the blurb puts it, this story is about “the lives and loves of a teenage transboy music geek.” Gabe starts his radio show, “Beautiful Music For Ugly Children” under the mentorship of old-time DJ John; it’s his first public(ish) identification as Gabe instead of Elizabeth. As Gabe sends his thoughts and his music out over the airwaves, a cluster of enthusiastic listeners begin paying homage to the show with impromptu art around town. But when it comes out that Gabe is trans, he has to deal with the world beyond his microphone, and that’s a whole other B-side. Beautiful Music For Ugly Children is the perfect balance of coming-of-age and music geekery, and it will definitely appeal to anyone who loves Pump Up the Volume! Kirstin Cronn-Mills has openly addressed the difficulty that some folks have had with her, as a non-trans person, writing a book about a trans character, as well as her own anxieties about it, and why, ultimately, she thought Beautiful Music for Ugly Children was an important book for her to write. Read more about it at Crunchings and Munchings HERE.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (2011)
Beauty Queens is one of the weirdest and funniest books out there—it’s really a total trip and I loved every minute of it. One contestant represents each state in the Miss Teen Dream beauty pageant. When the Miss Teen Dreamers’ plane crashes, stranding them on a desert island with nothing but the contents of their makeup bags and their wits, some rise to the occasion and some, well, friends, some sink. Throw in a global conspiracy, young love, the sun, and several tons of hair removal product, and Beauty Queens is one explosive read! It took me a while to talk myself into reading this one because I was afraid it’d be a bit exploitative or silly, but Libba Bray’s book is pure genius satire and I laughed my ass off at least 197 times. Just a taste:
“‘My head kinda hurts,’ Miss New Mexico said. Several of the girls gasped. Half of an airline serving tray was lodged in her forehead, forming a small blue canopy over her eyes.
‘What is it?’ Miss New Mexico checked to make sure her bra straps weren’t showing.” (8).
You can check out my full review at Crunchings and Munchings HERE.
With or Without You by Brian Farrey (2011)
Evan and Davis are bullied, beaten-up for being gay, and have crappy parents. But senior year is finally over and all they have to do is get through the summer before they can move to Chicago and leave it all behind like they’ve planned for so long. But Evan has a wonderful boyfriend that he can’t tell anyone about and Davis has fallen in with Sable, a mysterious and charismatic alpha dog, and Evan feels like he doesn’t even know him anymore. Suddenly, the future seems very, very uncertain. With or Without You is a books that really snuck up on me: while I was reading it I was totally into it, but I didn’t fully realize how much it had affected me until I found myself thinking about it for months after I read it. It’s beautifully written and the characters are extremely resonant, but it’s also an important book, I think; very highly recommended. You can read my full review at Crunchings and Munchings HERE.
The God Eaters by Jesse Hajicek (2006)
Imprisoned because the corrupt government wants to study their “talents” (powers), Ash and Kieran manage an elaborate prison break, evade their captors, survive for days in the desert, hop a train back to the city, and start to fall in love . . . and that’s only the first third of the novel. As the book blurb declares: when “shy intellectual” Ash meets Kieran, “a hard-hearted gunslinger with a dark magic lurking in his blood, Ash finds that necessity makes strange heroes . . . and love can change the world.” Through multiple shootouts, a run-in with creepy priest, some R&R at a friend’s brothel, and a true dream or two, Ash and Kieran both realize that together they are stronger than they ever imagined. Jesse Hajicek self-published The God Eaters, but it was originally published serially, online, and you can still read the whole book THERE. My full review is at Crunchings and Munchings HERE.
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron (2007)
It’s the summer after high school and James is working at his mother’s art gallery in Manhattan. His pretentious sister is dating a professor named Rainer Maria, his mother ditched her newest husband during their Vegas honeymoon, his father believes that he should never order pasta as a main course in a restaurant because it isn’t manly, and about the only people James can stand are his grandmother and his coworker, John. This is James Sveck’s life, and it’s kind of going to shit. James Sveck is one of my favorite voices of YA lit—he’s smart and sensitive, and hates people his own age, dog parks, and “dead, meaningless language” like nice to meet you, too. So good, y’all! Check out my full review at Crunchings and Munchings HERE. They made a movie of it, which was kinda meh (although, to be fair, I might have liked it a lot if I’d not read the book . . .). Anyhoo, review of that is HERE.
Nevada by Imogen Binnie (2013)
While not marketed as a young adult book, Imogen Binnie’s debut novel definitely will be read and loved by young(ish) adults. Maria Griffiths is a young trans woman living in Brooklyn trying to, as the blurb says, “stay true to her punk values while working retail.” When she finds out that her girlfriend has lied to her and she can’t think of any reason to keep her job, she sets off on a cross-country journey (to Nevada, in case you were wondering about the title) where she finds someone who didn’t even know they were looking for her. It’s a beautifully-written book that takes its critiques of gender, capitalism, and aesthetics seriously while still injecting them with hilarious self-consciousness. I had the privilege of hearing Imogen Binnie read and she made Nevada even more hilarious than it was on the page. Check out my blogmate, Tessa’s, full review on Crunchings and Munchings HERE.
Leave Myself Behind by Bart Yates (2003)
I think Leave Myself Behind is the most housequeer-ish book on this list, in that it’s all about a house. And a queer. In a house. You know. When Noah’s mother moves him from Chicago to a crumbling house in New England after his father dies and informs him that the two of them will renovate the house over the summer, he expects to be a little confused and a lot dirty. What he doesn’t expect is to find poems stashed behind the walls, love next door, and several long-buried family secrets. Especially not all at once. I love this book so much. Noah is smart and insightful and angry and horny and confused and he feels like a friend, and his mom is a wacky poet, and he falls in love with the literal boy next door. And then everything goes to shit. And it’s wonderful. My full review at Crunchings and Munchings is HERE.
Santa Olivia (Santa Olivia #1) by Jacqueline Carey (2009)
Loup Garron is the daughter of a genetically-manipulated wolf-man and a local woman, so she’s half wolfy, meaning she has enhanced strength, speed, and senses, and no fear. She lives in a town in the demilitarized zone between Texas and Mexico, in a church with a group of other misfit orphans. As local soldiers perpetrate crimes on the locals, Loup and her friends form a vigilante group to exact justice. Loup is a fantastic, kick-ass character who is trying to figure out who she is in a world where no one really gets the chance to do so.
The Culling (The Torch Keeper #1) by Steven dos Santos (2013)
If I had to describe The Culling in under five words, I would have to describe it as a gay Hunger Games. But don’t think The Culling is derivative; rather, it takes a now-familiar conceit and turns it into a total blockbuster action book! Every year, The Establishment recruits five citizens to face The Trials, with their loved ones as the Incentives for their success. When Lucian tries to take things into his own hands to protect his brother, he finds himself a Recruit, fighting for his brother’s life, and Digory, who seems desperate to protect him, is a Recruit right along with him. What mysteries is The Establishment hiding, and how can Lucian and Digory have any hope of being together when they may have to kill each other to save their Incentives? The Culling is grim and intense, grittier in style than Hunger Games and perhaps a bit cruder, and goddamn, I just could not put it down. First-time author Steven dos Santos assures me that the cover reveal for the sequel will be available soon. Check out my full review at Crunchings and Munchings HERE.
Rebecca is a writer living in Philadelphia with a cat who is much more attractive than she is. When not writing fiction and poetry, she blogs about books at Crunchings & Munchings and writes about food for Good. Food. Stories. She likes bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and cheese. But mostly cheese.
Housequeer on the facebook
Barbara & Barbara
Black and Pink
Post Punk Kitchen
Pusheen the Cat
Susan Virginia Yoga
You're at housequeer.com! All recipes, images, and content (unless otherwise noted) are property of Housequeer and may not be re-posted, published, or otherwise duplicated without credit and/or permission. Thanks!