This week, July 11-17, is Nonbinary Awareness Week, and today, July 14, is International Nonbinary People’s Day! I’ve done a few specific lists for books with different identities within the LGBTQ+ community, but I don’t think I’ve done a specific nonbinary one. Given that it’s the perfect time to do it, I figured I would shine a light on books with protagonists (and sometimes authors!) with nonbinary and gender non-conforming identities. Representation always, always matters, especially for a community who face scrutiny even from within the LGBTQ+ community. 💛🤍💜🖤
Let’s begin, shall we?
THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA BOOKS FOR NONBINARY AWARENESS WEEK
Though I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I Wish You All the Best, The Ghost We Keep is still an incredibly powerful exploration of grief. It’s also one of the only books I’ve seen that features a protagonist that uses multiple pronouns—Liam uses he/they pronouns!
It’s July again, which means—though it’s too often overlooked—that it’s Disability Pride Month here in the U.S.! Even as intersectional as feminism and diversity efforts have become in recent years, the disabled community has been left out of the picture more often than not. YA books are no exception—even now, it’s difficult to find good, solid disability rep, and even harder to find books from disabled authors. So uplifting disabled voices is always important, as with uplifting all kinds of marginalized voices.
I’ve talked a little about good and bad disability rep on this blog, but I haven’t talked about how it affects me—I did put it in my bio a few months ago offhandedly, but I’m disabled as well. I have sensory processing disorder (SPD), a neurological disability that causes me to over-respond to sensory input, mainly sound; My nervous system doesn’t translate stimulus like a neurotypical brain would, making me over-respond to certain sensory input. Big crowds, loud noises (fire alarms, stopping buses, and almost anything that you can find in a city) are major causes of anxiety and discomfort for me, and often cause me to go into a fight-or-flight position or overload entirely.
As a result, being in situations with lots of sensory stimuli, such as school or social gatherings, can be exhausting, what with trying to juggle keeping my cool with said stimuli and participating fully in an activity. It also affects how I go about ordinary tasks as well—driving, for instance, has been a struggle, what with my hypersensitivity combined with my iffy-at-best motor coordination. (Part of SPD is that the nervous system doesn’t fully integrate all of my senses, which is why tasks like these are difficult for me.) SPD makes me feel everything—sound especially—far more intensely than a neurotypical person might, which often overloads my system.
Here’s the thing: although I’ve seen other parts of my identity—bisexuality, being mixed race, or even just personalities like mine—represented in books, I’ve never seen SPD represented in a book. Not on TV, movies, or any other kind of media, either. Never. I’ve been looking for years, but most of the time, what comes up when I search for books with characters that have SPD usually ends up being help books for parents with SPD kids. (Not to dismiss the value of those books—just not what I’m looking for.) There have been a few, but even then, they haven’t been available at the library. (I’ve got one on hold though—let’s hope Not If I Can Help Itis good) I could always be missing something (PLS IF ANYBODY KNOWS ANY KIND OF MEDIA WITH GOOD SPD REP DROP SOME IN THE COMMENTS BEGGING YOU), but it’s been frustrating going to google and getting something that decidedly wasn’t what you were going for.
Even though I’ve seen myself represented in other ways, it’s frustrating to not have book characters—even side characters—that have similar experiences to me. Growing up, I had my fair share of not-so-subtle teasing for expressing some of my symptoms, and in that respect, I had no role models, no fictional characters to really look up to in that respect. That’s part of why I’m writing books with protagonists that have SPD—there’s always a kid out there who just needs a fictional character to look up to when they have nobody else. This is why representation matters—for those who never saw themselves represented growing up, and for those to come who may have the chance to feel represented.
So here are my disability pride month recs for 2022—not all of them are from disabled authors, but I’ve done my best to compile a list from a variety of genres, a variety of backgrounds (POC, queer, etc.), and a variety of disabilities.
A gripping post-apocalyptic book featuring a determined, Autistic protagonist!
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think of them? What are your favorite YA books with disability rep? And please, does anybody have any recs for media with good SPD rep? Kinda desperate over here…
(I can only go with my headcanon that Jean Grey from X-Men has SPD for so long, folks, please…)
That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
It’s finally summer and 2022 is already a little over halfway gone…HOW?
June was a great start to my break; I took a trip to California (Yosemite and then San Francisco) early in the month, and I had so much fun! Once I got back, there was still a ton of stuff to do in preparation for college this August (AAAAAAAAA), so I’ve been slowly chugging away at that. Had my first jury duty summons yesterday, too…nerve-wracking, to say the least. And I’ve been sad and furious at the U.S. government (well…more than usual) for the past week. But even amidst that, I’ve really enjoyed the past few weeks. Summer is one of my favorite times of the year, and the weather is finally warm enough here that I can go outside and read in my hammock. Bliss.
After school let out, I’ve had so much more time to read as well! I focused on LGBTQ+ books this month, and I found some great reads. My brother also lent me his Fantastic Four comics (after we saw Multiverse of Madness and he realized that I hadn’t read them), so I had a lot of fun with those too. As far as writing goes, I’ve been polishing my outline for my Camp NaNoWriMo project, and I’m so excited to get writing again!! Soon…
Other than that, I’ve just been watching the new season of Stranger Things (my least favorite season so far, but I am F R I G H T E N E D for vol. 2), Jurassic World: Dominion (came anticipating no plot, only dinosaurs, but there were…very few dinosaurs ), and the new season of The Umbrella Academy (I’m only halfway through, no spoilers!!!), listening to too much Spoon, T. Rex, and Soccer Mommy, and making an excessive amount of playlists.
READING AND BLOGGING:
I read 20 books this month! Summer has given me a lot more time to read, and I am all the better for it.
I’ve been a huge fan of Anna-Marie McLemore’s books for ages; their prose is always immersive and lush, and their stories never fail to pull at the heartstrings. So I was over-the-moon excited to find out that they had a new book out! I put Lakelore on hold as soon as I could, and I finally got to read it last week. While it wasn’t their best work, Lakelore is still a beautiful tale of the trans experience.
The town where Bastián and Lore live has a secret: under the lake is a strange, unknown world. But they are the only ones who have ventured down into this secret world, and they know something that the other townsfolk don’t know: the world under the lake is blending with the real world. The only way to put the two worlds back in their places is for Bastián and Lore to reunite, but the secrets between them may tear them apart before they reach their goal.
I loved Lakelore, but it lacked the very thing that makes McLemore’s other books so unique—the magical realism aspect. It was there, sure, but it felt so sidelined when the synopsis emphasized it so much. That being said, Lakelore was still excellent, and it’s sure to resonate with so many nonbinary readers!
The representation in Lakelore was truly fantastic! Both Bastián and Lore are Latinx and nonbinary; Bastián also has ADHD and Lore has dyslexia! This kind of intersectional representation is what I live for, and McLemore wrote it all so gracefully! Each aspect of their identities was so wonderfully written, from Bastián’s journey starting testosterone to Lore’s therapy sessions to cope with school having dyslexia. The whole book is a beautiful testament to being the other in some way, and the way that McLemore explores it with Bastián and Lore was fantastic.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Anna-Marie McLemore’s unforgettable prose! Their writing is as strong as ever in Lakelore, and the way their signature, magical writing style told Bastián and Lore’s stories made it all the more engaging, emotional, and tender. It’s the kind of writing that feels like looking at pure, unadulterated magic, instantly transporting the reader to the small town and the mysterious lake at its heart.
That being said, I was a little disappointed with the magical realism aspect of Lakelore. At best, it was underdeveloped; we got glimpses of the world beneath the lake, but it was never quite expanded upon. We saw that this underwater realm gave Bastián’s alebrijes (which I also loved—great metaphor for healthy coping mechanisms!) the ability to move, but other than that, it was very vague, save for the urban legend aspect of it. I guess it’s on me for thinking that Lakelore was gonna be some kind of nonbinary Abe Sapien kind of deal, but even so, I wanted so much more from that aspect after how strong McLemore’s magical realism/fantasy game usually is.
All in all, a fantastic addition to Anna-Marie McLemore’s pantheon that lacked slightly in the magical realism department, but made up for it with the beautiful depiction of a Latinx, nonbinary, and neurodivergent experience. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!
Lakelore is a standalone, but Anna-Marie McLemore is also the author of The Mirror Season, Wild Beauty, When the Moon Was Ours, Dark and Deepest Red, Blanca & Roja, The Weight of Feathers, and the forthcoming Great Gatsby remix Self-Made Boys.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! Hope this week has treated you well.
First off, I have to acknowledge how infuriated I am with the Supreme Court of the United States. Abortion is healthcare and a human right, and the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is a disgustingly insensitive decision that will have disastrous consequences. I’m grateful to live in a state where abortions are protected (THANKS GOVERNOR POLIS!!), but my heart breaks for all the women and trans folks who don’t have access to safe abortions—my heart goes out to you all. If you’re as sad, scared, and angry as I am, consider donating to one of the following organizations:
And if you’re old enough, register to vote! Friday was astronomically sucky for me, but I’m glad I chose to register to vote that day. In the meantime, support the women and trans folks in your life, and don’t stop fighting.
Most of my week leading up to the past few days has been alright, though. I’ve had a lot more time to read now that it’s summertime, and most of what I’ve read this week has been good. It’s been warming up, so I’ve been able to go out in my hammock and read too—one of my favorite parts of summer and the warm weather. I’ve steadily been preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo; my outline for my current WIP is pretty much finished, and I’m excited to get into it!
Other than that, I’ve just been drawing, playing guitar, volunteering at the library, watching the new season of The Umbrella Academy (loving this season so much!! they’re handling Viktor/Elliot Page’s transition so gracefully and respectfully 😭💗), and being angrier than usual at the supreme court.