Tag Archives: Gay and Lesbian Teen Fiction

Author Interview with Alex Sanchez
Author Interviews
June 21, 2009 posted by Nikki

Author Interview with Alex Sanchez

Alex Sanchez is the author of many young adult books featuring queer characters and relationships. His books have won many awards and he is regarded as one of the most popular and influential writers of fiction for gay youth. Some of his titles include The Rainbow Boys trilogy, The God Box, So Hard to Say, and Getting It. His latest novel, Bait, is in stores now. In celebration of Gay Pride Month, Alex was kind enough to sit down and answer a few of our questions. Here’s what he had to say…

What made you decide to write books about gay teens?

I didn’t set out to write Y.A. Lit. When I wrote my first novel, Rainbow Boys, I was simply writing the book I wished I’d had available to read when I was a teen—a book that would’ve told me, “It’s okay to be who you are.” Part of who I was then was a very normal teenage boy trying to sort out love, friendship, sex, and sexuality.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Prior to becoming a full-time author, I worked as a website manager, organizational development consultant, juvenile probation officer, family counselor, scuba instructor, college recruiter, movie projectionist, agent trainee, movie production assistant, theatre usher, stock clerk, and tour guide. Who knows what else I might be doing?

We’re featuring The Rainbow Boys trilogy on our site this month for Gay Pride Month. Where did the inspiration for those books come about?

A lot of the inspiration came from seeing young people nowadays who have the courage and opportunity to come out and be themselves in high school. When I was in high school, the term “coming out” didn’t even exist. The early 70’s was a time when gay people were practically invisible. I thought I was the only one in the world with my feelings. This was back in the dark ages—before Will & Grace.

Which character – Jason, Kyle, or Nelson – came to you first?

I began writing the book in 1993, so I don’t remember which character came first. I wanted to write a love story between two teenage boys—that’s where Jason and Kyle came from. And I wanted to write about the friendship between two boys—that’s where Kyle and Nelson’s story came from. The triangle between the three boys is what makes the story hang together.

Why did you decide to write this series through three different points of view, rather than just one character’s perspective?

I wanted to allow the reader to experience how three very different gay and bisexual teenage boys experience the world differently.

Do you have a favourite out of the three boys?

Each boy captures an aspect of myself—and of universal human drives. Jason struggles to love himself. Kyle wants to find someone to love. Nelson wants to find someone to love him.

Jason loses his college scholarship when he comes out. Do you think this kind of thing is still a common occurrence in modern America?

Unfortunately, homophobia is alive and pervasive in America. I recently received the following words in an email from a boy who came out at his school:  “I ended up getting kicked off of like five activities. And I didn’t make the football, basketball, or baseball team even though I was captain in all three my junior year. And I wasn’t sure whether they’re allowed to do that. I mean, I’m not a bad athlete or anything.”

What do you have to say to teens that might be in Jason’s position?

Keep reaching out.  Never close up.  Never give up.  Hang in there.  You will get through this.  You are a wonderful human being.  Love, respect, and accept yourself for the beautiful soul you are.

While all three boys in The Rainbow Boys eventually come out, and are relatively happy with their decision to do so, not all teens are so lucky. What advice do you have for teens that might be struggling with coming out?

Coming out can be a very freeing thing. You no longer have to hide who you are, censor what your say, and watch what you do. Being honest and open enables you to feel confident about yourself and more able to form closer relationships with people. But because homophobia is so pervasive in our society, you never know how others will react. A big part of coming out is whether you’re prepared to deal with anti-gay reactions that may come from your being open. There is no rush to come out. TAKE YOUR TIME. The most important thing is that YOU love and accept yourself for who you are. Don’t do anything before you feel ready. It’s your life and your choice. Only you can decide if, how, with whom, and when to come out.


Where can questioning or gay teens find information that might help them through their self-discovery?

If you’re a teen and want to talk with someone, contact one of the organizations listed at my website, www.alexsanchez.com. And read all my books! They will help you.

Peace, Alex.

Out of Left Field: Marlee’s Story – Barbara L. Clanton
Book Reviews
June 19, 2009 posted by Nikki

Out of Left Field: Marlee’s Story – Barbara L. Clanton

High school junior Marlee McAllister lives and breathes softball. She’s the pitcher for the Clarkson Cougars in the North Country of upstate New York. With the season opener approaching, Marlee and her best friend, Jeri D’Amico, go scout their rivals, the East Valley Panthers. The Panthers star pitcher, Christy Loveland, took the All County pitching title the preceding year. It’s a title that Marlee covets. Marlee and Jeri settle in for the game but as the Panthers take the field, Marlee finds herself staring at Susie Torres, the Panther left fielder.

And so starts the beginning of the biggest change in Marlee’s life. When Marlee realises that the feelings she’s experiencing for Susie are nothing like what it feels like to be with Bobby – her boyfriend – she begins to question why they’re even together. All he wants to do is make out and go parking, and that’s the last thing Marlee wants to do with Bobby. When Bobby leaves her for someone else, Marlee is shocked but also a little relieved.

Enter Susie. At a party one night, Susie tells Marlee that she thinks she beautiful. As soon as the words fall on Marlee’s ears, she feels completely unable to hold her feelings in any longer. The girls end up making out and so starts the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Unsure of how their friends will react, the two girls decide to keep their newfound love a secret. And it’s a good thing they do, because Susie’s best friend (and Marlee’s rival pitcher), Christy Loveland, wants Susie all to herself. Not in the same way that Marlee and Susie want each other, but her jealously becomes a major problem for the new couple all the same. Will the new couple survive the pressure so early on in their relationship?

What I loved about this book the most was Marlee’s immediate, unquestioned acceptance of her newfound sexuality. She didn’t go into denial, and she didn’t embark on a downward spiral of self-hate and loathing. When their friends found out that Susie and Marlee were dating, there were no homophobic reactions and certainly no friendships lost over the issue. This is the first book I’ve found for gay teens that doesn’t include the protagonist’s ‘coming out’ being met with a barrage of objections and hate. Although the two girls did express concern about how their loves ones would react, it wasn’t a huge issue and it was clear that they certainly weren’t going to let that stop them being together.  It was so refreshing (and joyous!) to read a novel for gay teens that shows the protagonist in positive circumstances, rather than the tragic ones that so often get published.

Out of Left Field
is a short, punchy feel-good read that gets straight to the point (no pun intended).

If you want information about Barbara’s other books, click here

Rating: : ★★★½☆

Rainbow High – Alex Sanchez
Book Reviews
June 17, 2009 posted by Nikki

Rainbow High – Alex Sanchez

The Rainbow Boys are back for another compelling read. The second installment in The Rainbow Boys trilogy finds Kyle, Jason and Nelson all struggling to make peace with their own personal issues.

High school is nearly over and Jason can’t wait to start college. Playing basketball at a college level has always been a dream of his; he’s even got a scholarship and all. But then Jason decides that he can’t bear to hide his sexuality anymore and comes out to his team and his classmates. Eventually word gets out that he’s dating Kyle and in a moment of victorious joy after a smashing win on the court, Jason is captured by local television cameras giving his boyfriend a celebratory kiss. Soon after, Jason’s life takes an awful turn and he receives a letter revoking his scholarship. Jason’s folks recently split up and he knows that without that scholarship, there is no way that Jason’s Ma can afford to send him away to college. There go his plans for an awesome college basketball career. And what about Kyle? They were going to college together. How is he supposed to tell Kyle that they’ll be apart next year?

Little does he know that Kyle is harboring a secret of his own. Kyle wants nothing more than to move away and start life afresh with Jason next year. In fact, it’s all he’s wanted since he and Jason started dating. But then Kyle receives an offer of a lifetime: he’s accepted to Princeton University. Kyle applied to Princeton before he started dating Jason, but now things have changed. He loves Jason. He wants to be with Jason forever. More to the point, he doesn’t want to be apart from Jason next year. How is that supposed to happen when they’re both going to different colleges in different states? There are plenty of colleges in the country, but there’s only one Jason. What will Kyle do?

Meanwhile, Nelson is having problems of his own. He’s mad at Kyle, for one. If Kyle accepts his offer from Princeton, all of Nelson’s college plans will be ruined. Kyle and Nelson were supposed to go to Tech together. It’s the only reason Nelson even applied to Tech. What is the point of going to Tech if his best friend isn’t with him?

Like Jason and Kyle, Nelson has finally found love. Jeremy is cute, sweet, and just a little bit older than Nelson. However, Jeremy is HIV positive. At first, Nelson doesn’t seem to care. Much to Kyle’s horror, Nelson isn’t being as careful with Jeremy as he should be. Nelson just wants to be with Jeremy and doesn’t think he should be treated differently because of his illness. But then Jeremy gets sick one day while they’re making out and Nelson gets a first hand account of what dealing with HIV can be like. Is he ready to be with someone so sick? And what kind of person does that make him if he’s not?

Being a teenager is hard enough; being a gay teenager can be hell. But as Jason, Kyle, and Nelson prove, friendship and love can conquer all kinds of hate, all kinds of challenges. Alex Sanchez’s characters are so alive in my mind they could literally walk off the page. Their individual struggles are presented in simple terms, allowing the reader to form their own opinion about the way the events are presented. Sanchez has a real knack for telling it like it is without telling you how you should feel about it. He’s a supremely talented writer and I think all teens should make the effort to read one – or all – of his books.

If you loved The Rainbow Boys then Rainbow High is a must for you.

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Win a Julie Anne Peters Prize Pack!
Contests
June 9, 2009 posted by Nikki

Win a Julie Anne Peters Prize Pack!

In celebration of Gay Pride Month, we’re giving yaReaders the chance to win one of two ‘Julie Anne Peters Prize Packs’. Each pack contains an autographed paperback copy of Keeping You A Secret and a hardback copy of Luna.

This contest is open to yaReaders from all around the world. All you have to do is reply to this contest at the bottom and tell us why you think you deserve the prize.

Contest open until June 23, 2009. Happy posting!

Keeping You A Secret – Julie Anne Peters
Book Reviews
June 7, 2009 posted by Nikki

Keeping You A Secret – Julie Anne Peters

Holland has it made: she’s pretty, popular, and she’s got Seth – the most popular boy in school – all to herself. Sounds perfect, huh? Well, we all know what happens to perfect stories: they don’t stay perfect for long.

Perfection, though, depends on your perspective.

Enter Cece Goddard. She’s new at school and Holland can’t help but notice her. Actually, Cece makes it her business to ensure that she’s definitely on Holland’s radar. Cece is beautiful, confident, and much to Cece’s delight, Holland can’t stop thinking about her. Cece makes no attempt to hide the fact that she’s gay and when Cece and Holland start spending time together, people start talking.

When Holland breaks up with Seth, people really start talking and suddenly, no one wants to be Holland’s friend anymore. The talk gets back to Holland’s folks and suddenly Holland finds herself without a home. Life doesn’t seem so perfect anymore. Then Holland realises something very important: her life didn’t feel perfect before, either, because things never felt quite right. Although life is tough now, Holland is strong. And she has the support of an awesome girlfriend to help her though her troubled times.

It’s a sad, but true fact, that more than a handful of gay and lesbian teens experience similar circumstances when they finally decide to come out to their friends and family. Books like Keeping You A Secret offer these people hope: there is a light at the end of the very dark tunnel. Holland’s lesson resonates clearly and I’m sure is one that queer teens everywhere (and adults, for that matter) could relate to: if you’re true to yourself, real happiness will always ensue one way or another.

I long for the day when books containing gross acts of homophobia, like that displayed by Holland’s parents, are a shocking and unacceptable occurrence. While Western society has come a long way in these kinds of matters, we still have a hell of a long way to go.

Julie Anne Peters is a National Book Award Finalist and a gifted writer that has touched the hearts of many.

Rating:: ★★★★☆