This month is our LGBTQ theme. LGBTQ books (and the concept in general) is very knew to me. I actually came up with this idea when I was watching Tea Time with Epic Reads. I don’t think that LGBTQ in YA Lit (and in general) gets the attention that it deserves. So, this month is going to be an extra special month. You will see book reviews and guest posts from myself, other bloggers, and authors who have written LGBTQ themed books. I hope to see several comments from several of you throughout the month. Jump in and embrace the LGBTQ theme this January!
Our first book review is from author, Pavarti K. Tyler.
Award winning author of multi-cultural and transgressive literature, Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway. Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry several international law firms. She now lives with her husband, two daughters and one very large, very terrible dog. She keeps busy working with fabulous authors as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity and penning her next genre bending novel. Visit her website HERE.
If You Could Be Mine left me gasping. The strength, the injustice, the love!
Sahar and Nasrin are in love. They live in Iran, and are girls. In Iran, lesbianism is illegal. Sahar remembers seeing men hung in
Tehran as a child. Being gay isn’t just frowned upon or judged, it’s something you could die for. The options available aren’t very appealing. Run from the country, become an exhile, and hope to get to Turkey where many LGBTQ individuals are granted asylum. Live with the constant fear of being discovered. Or take the drastic route of undergoing a sex change operation, despite not being transsexual.
When Nasrin announces her engagement to Reza, the older, smart, handsome medical student her parents choose for her, Sahar falls deep into depression and the fantasy that she can change her fate. Will she undergo a drastic surgery to keep the woman she loves from marrying another? Many have made this choice, as gender re-assignment surgery is not only legal, but state funded in Iran. This is an old, but good article about the trend: http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/film/2009/06/24/gay-get-sex-change
The characters in this books will infuriate you, entertain you, shock you and ultimately break your heart. In a world with no good solution, what’s a girl in love to do?
Personally, I’m not only a huge advocate of LGBTQ rights, I’m also extremely interested in the Middle East, Islam and Religious Politics. This books has everything you could ask for. Political without being impersonal, activist without being preachy, entertaining without being dismissive. The author knows her Iranian history and culture (not surprising as her parents are from Iran) and displays deep sensitivity toward the turmoil inside Sahar’s heart.
I was impressed by the authors ability to display some of the hypocracy of the religious police, the deep fear of discovery by the members of the LGBTQ community, and the gender issues women in the Middle East face every day.
The girls are deeply in love. Usually, I find the whole romance theme predictable and boring, here that wasn’t the case. Their furtive kisses, heated exchanges and frustrated arguments all read extremely true to life. They are not yet 18, still children in some ways, trying to navigate a situation many adults can’t manage, let alone with the added stress of being gay in a hostile climate. They make bad choices, act insensitively and for Sahar’s part, she deludes herself into thinking a sex change surgery could fix things, if you read between the lines, it’s clear she knows better, but she’s desperate.
The secondary characters and subplots are fabulous. I loved the father and Parveen (a male to female transsexual who takes Sahar under her wing). The gay cousin, Ali, could have been a stereotypical nightmare, but instead, his boisterous behavior and underground dealings come across as sincere by products of his personality and situation.
I highly recommend this book. My only complaint is that it is at times too slow and some points are over simplified, however, considering the target audience of the book the choices the author makes are appropriate. An excellent read for teenagers, geared to make them think without too much explicit anything, and full of intriguing characters. This books is definitely intended for a Western audience and written in an American voice. The content is extremely harram despite the tame descriptions.
If you are interested in the situation for LGBTQ individuals in the Middle East, I highly recommend you check out “A Jihad for Love”. Trailer below.
Review Provided by Pavarti K Tyler, author of the award winning novel Shadow on the Wall which focuses on women in the Middle East through the guise of a Superhero Novel! Follow her at www.PavartiKTyler.com.
Rating: [rating: 4]