Monday, February 18, 2019

Quiver - teens from opposite worlds (Zo is gender fluid in a liberal family, Libby's family are evangelical Christians) become neighbors and unlikely friends

Quiver by Julia Watts

Libby is the oldest child of six, going on seven, in a family that adheres to the "quiverfull" lifestyle: strict evangelical Christians who believe that they should have as many children as God allows because children are like arrows in the quiver of "God's righteous warriors." Meanwhile, her new neighbor Zo is a gender fluid teen whose feminist, socialist, vegetarian family recently relocated from the city in search of a less stressful life.

Zo and hir family are as far to the left ideologically as Libby's family is to the right, and yet Libby and Zo, who are the same age, feel a connection that leads them to friendship--a friendship that seems doomed from the start because of their families' differences.

Add your review of "Quiver" in comments!

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls - Four sisters (one with a crush on another girl) and the summer that changes everything

The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood

As the oldest, Des shoulders a lot of responsibility for her family and their independent bookstore. Except it's hard to dream big when she's so busy taking care of everyone else.

Vi has a crush on the girl next door. It makes her happy and nervous, but Cece has a it's not like her feelings could ever be reciprocated, right?

Kat lands the lead in the community theater's summer play, but the drama spills offstage when her ex and his new girlfriend are cast too. Can she get revenge by staging a new romance of her own?

Bea and her boyfriend are heading off to college together in the fall, just like they planned when they started dating. But Bea isn't sure she wants the same things as when she was thirteen...

Add your review of "The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls" in comments!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Dangerous Art of Blending In - Evan has survived his mother's abuse by being silent. And now his best friend Henry is suddenly becoming more than a friend...

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis
Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict immigrant Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend, Henry, has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer.

Tired, isolated, scared—Evan finds that his only escape is to draw in an abandoned monastery that feels as lonely as he is. And yes, he kissed one guy over the summer. But it’s Henry who’s now proving to be irresistible. Henry, who suddenly seems interested in being more than friends. And it’s Henry who makes him believe that he deserves more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse.

But as things with Henry heat up, and his mother’s abuse escalates, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by being silent.

Add your review of "The Dangerous Art of Blending In" in comments!

Monday, February 11, 2019

La Bastarda - An orphaned teen in Equatorial Guinea tries to find her father with the help of her gay uncle and a gang of "mysterious" girls

La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono, translated by Lawrence Schimel

The first novel by an Equatorial Guinean woman to be translated into English, La Bastarda is the story of the orphaned teen Okomo, who lives under the watchful eye of her grandmother and dreams of finding her father. Forbidden from seeking him out, she enlists the help of other village outcasts: her gay uncle and a gang of "mysterious" girls reveling in their so-called indecency. Drawn into their illicit trysts, Okomo finds herself falling in love with their leader and rebelling against the rigid norms of Fang culture.

Learn more about this translation in this article by the translator here.

Add your review of "La Bastarda" in comments!

Friday, February 8, 2019


I'm really honored to be the guest on this new episode of OUTTAKE VOICES™.

Hosted by the very thoughtful (and Emmy-winning) Charlotte Robinson, the podcast series interviews “LGBT leaders & their allies”, focusing on politics and entertainment. I'm in some amazing company, with previous episodes featuring activists like Peter TatchellEvangeline Weiss, and Chad Griffin; and actors, singers, and directors like Kyra Sedgwick, Mary Wilson, and Michael Gaucher; and authors of plays and books like Brynn Tannehill and Jewelle Gomez and... me! WOW!

My interview covers a lot of ground, and I'm speaking from the heart. Having spent so many years trying to find my voice, now that I have it—well, having this opportunity to be heard means a lot.

Listen to the Lee Wind Talks New Novel "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" episode here.

My thanks to Charlotte for the opportunity, and to you, for being part of my community.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges and celebrates the light in you,

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Beauty That Remains - Three teens (one gay) struggle with loss... can music save them?

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

Autumn always knew exactly who she was: a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan has always turned to writing love songs when his real love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan is a guy who can't stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger who's struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band's music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.

Add your review of "The Beauty That Remains" in comments!

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Brightsiders - A teenage rock star crashes, comes out (as bi), and crushes on a gender fluid bandmate

The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde

As a rock star drummer in the hit band The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But there’s nothing the paparazzi love more than watching a celebrity crash and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck.

Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. She knows hooking up with a band member is exactly the kind of trouble she should be avoiding, and yet Emmy and Alfie Just. Keep. Kissing.

Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own?

Add your review of "The Brightsiders" in comments!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Mariam Sharma Hits the Road - Three Pakistani-American teens (one gay and closeted) road trip from NY to New Orleans

The summer after her freshman year of college, Mariam is looking forward to working and hanging out with her best friends: irrepressible and beautiful Ghazala, and religious but closeted Umar.

But when a scandalous photo of Ghaz appears on a billboard in Times Square, Mariam and Umar come up with a plan to rescue her from her furious parents. And what could be a better escape than a spontaneous road trip down to New Orleans?

Add your review of "Mariam Sharma Hits the Road" in comments!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Odd One Out - Two Teen Friends Plus One New Friend Who Changes Everything by Liking Them Both

Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Courtney Cooper and Jupiter Sanchez (Coop & Jupe!) have been next-door neighbors and best friends since they were seven-years-old. She's his partner-in-crime and other half. But lately, Cooper can't ignore he might want something more than friendship from Jupiter.

When Rae Chin moves to town she can't believe how lucky she is to find Coop and Jupe. Being the new kid is usually synonymous with pariah, but around these two, she finally feels like she belongs. She's so grateful she wants to kiss him...and her.

Jupiter has always liked girls. But when Rae starts dating Cooper, Jupe realizes that the only girl she ever really imagined by his side was her.
Add your review of "Odd One Out" in comments!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Starless - A nonbinary teen main character (along with a disabled teen character) in an epic fantasy

Starless by Jacqueline Carey

Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.

Add your review of "Starless" in comments!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Dear Rachel Maddow - A Lesbian Teen Struggles with School Politics, Her Brother's Death, and Her First "Serious" Ex-Girlfriend In Letters to the MSNBC host

Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner

Brynn Haper's life has one steadying force—Rachel Maddow.

She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project—and actually getting a response—Brynn starts drafting e-mails to Rachel but never sending them. Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with her first serious girlfriend, about her brother Nick's death, about her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she's stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.

Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to have a voice among the administration in the selection of a new school superintendent. Brynn's archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students are worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. So she begins to ask herself: What Would Rachel Maddow Do?

Add your review of "Dear Rachel Maddow" in comments!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Darius the Great is Not Okay - a questioning American teen is a fish out of water in his mother's home country of Iran, and then he meets the boy next door

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian—half, his mom’s side—and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.

Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.

Add your review of "Darius the Great is Not Okay" in comments!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Matthew Winner, Alex Gino, and Dr. Laura Jimenez chat about their "don't miss" LGBTQ-centered books of 2018 for kids and teens

The wonderful Matthew Winner, in the third installment of his 'Don't Miss' Books of 2018 podcast (episode #480 of The Children's Book Podcast) hosts a discussion about great LGBTQ kid and teen books published last year.

It's a lovely conversation between Matthew (an elementary school librarian and writer himself), Alex (the acclaimed middle grade author of George and the new You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!), and Dr. Laura Jimenez (a lecturer at Boston University and the blogger of Booktoss, which uses a critical, social justice-oriented lens to talk about children's and teen literature.)

They bring up a lot of good points and book recommendations, including, I'm delighted to say, "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" (by me!)

It's a lot of fun to listen to, and added some books to my to-be-read pile... I hope it does the same for yours!

Thanks, Matthew, Alex, and Laura!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Friday, January 18, 2019

"The Witch Boy" and "The Hidden Witch" - The First Two Books In a Wonderful and Smart Gender Non-Conforming Middle Grade Graphic Novel Series

The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag

Even magic has rules . . .

Everyone in Aster’s family is born with magic. Boys grow up to be shapeshifters; girls into witches. No exceptions.

But Aster can’t seem to get the hang of shapeshifting. Instead, he spends his time spying on the witchery lessons the girls are getting. He seems to have a knack for casting spells and wants to know more, but the only person he can share his growing gift with is Charlie, a girl from the non-magical side of town.

Then, during a night of shapeshifting practice, one of the boys goes missing. Aster knows he can search for the boy with the witchcraft he’s been secretly learning. Could breaking his family’s most important tradition save the day—or ruin everything?

The Hidden Witch

Aster and his family are adjusting to his unconventional talent for witchery; unlike the other boys in his family, he isn't a shapeshifter. He's taking classes with his grandmother and helping to keep an eye on his great-uncle whose corrupted magic wreaked havoc on the family.

Meanwhile, Aster's friend from the non-magical part of town, Charlie, is having problems of her own -- a curse has tried to attach itself to her. She runs to Aster and escapes it, but now the friends must find the source of the curse before more people -- normal and magical alike -- get hurt.

There's lots I loved about these—fast-paced, interesting magic world, well drawn, and most of all, the thoughtfulness of how strict gender roles can backfire on both people and society. 

What do you think? Add your review of "The Witch Boy" and/or "The Hidden Witch" in comments!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Safe - A Gay Teen Mystery - Was a gay student's death suicide, or murder? Kyle (also a gay teen) needs to find out.

Safe by Mark Zubro

Roger Cook is in the middle of his senior year when Kyle Davis, the most picked on kid in his high school, commits suicide. Roger agrees to write an article on Kyle for the school newspaper. As he gathers information, Roger realizes the dead boy was gay and may have been murdered. Gay himself, Roger wants to find out the truth, but this leads him to danger and the possibility of love. Roger opens himself to even greater risk while trying to make those around him safe.

Add your review of "Safe" in comments!