All tagged Multicultural

Links + Things: YA Books + Sex Ed, The Nastiness of Comparison, Cheapo Books + More

Wow, there sure has been a plethora of interesting discussion happening lately, in the book world and beyond. I had a very hard time selecting items from my giant Evernote file of interestingness (yes, that's what I call it) to share with you guys. I also found books by a couple of awesome authors on sale (and not just e-books!), so be sure to scroll down to check those out.

Required Reading

YA Books, Sex Ed & Pornography (CK Kelly Martin)

Like Malorie Blackman, I feel young adult literature has a responsibility here. It can and should play a role, reflecting realistic sexual experiences, both good and bad and thereby allowing teenagers to process aspects of the experiences before they are ready to engage in sex themselves. If you are writing young adult books that don't fade to black when it comes to sex scenes and if you're handling those scenes with honesty, without being exploitive, and neither glorifying sex nor demonizing it, you are already personally my favourite kind of YA writer. But more importantly, you're helping empower young people who are living in a highly sexually charged culture.

Author CK Kelly Martin wrote a spot-on, smart post in response to a piece in The Telegraph about where teens get their information about sex and the role of YA literature. The other items she links to are important as well, all shedding a light on the world today's young people navigate.

Review: When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz

“A lot of the images that I’ve grown up with, that’s kind of how I filter the world, through those images, and images carry meaning for me. A lot of the words I use – that’s the way we talk here [Fort Mohave Indian Reservation], that’s the way I’ve learned to express myself or at lest to try to express myself.”

Hearing these words from Natalie Diaz, author of When My Brother Was an Aztec, in an interview on public radio, immediately caught my attention.

Diaz discussed work she is doing on her Native American reservation to preserve the Mojave language that is threatened by extinction in the overarching present. The subject of language preservation as well as a discussion of When My Brother Was an Aztec, held my rapt attention.

Diaz pointed out when asked about her sense of identity as a Mohave, that her father is Spanish, that she is also Pima and Mohave, and she grew up outside of the Phoenix area. 

We had a little bit of everything in our house.

Diaz discussed her passion for writing as a “sense of hunger” within her, her love of basketball, of how basketball became a way to quiet her life – at least somewhat, and the pain of her brother’s meth addiction and how it affected her family altering or nearly wrecking its structure.

Her intelligence and  passion for her writing and diverse culture led me to purchase her 2012 book of poems and vignettes, When My Brother Was an Aztec. This slim 100 page volume holds beauty, sorrow and celebration. It’s not a quick nor an easy read, but it is well worth a commitment to reading it. 

I could not read this small book of poetry for a sustained period of time. The intensity of each piece does not invite a quick turning of the pages.

Rather, When My Brother Was an Aztec insists on quiet contemplation.

Chopsticks is probably best described as a graphic novel… sort of… about forbidden teenage love and mental illness.

But that’s not a particularly descriptive description.

Part scrapbook, part narrative, Chopsticks in an innovative approach to storytelling. This contemporary YA tells the story of Glory and Frank, next door neighbors that fall in love and are rapidly split apart by both distance and Glory’s father. Glory is a piano prodigy slowly descending into a dark world, where she’s only able to play Chopsticks on the piano and obsesses over Frank’s drawings. Frank is a gifted artist who’s failing out of his prestigious prep school. Chopsticks takes the reader through the couple’s tale in photo, snippets of IMs, YouTube video links, drawings and mementos from their relationship. 

Beyond the IMs and occasional scraps of paper with notes and lists, there are no words in Chopsticks.