“Representation and diversity are not buzzwords or trends or something you do to experiment or to ‘be nice.’ They are important and vital necessities to storytelling and should be approached with respect and consideration and humility. Something you work on because you genuinely want to make the world a better place for others.”
So said Miriam Forster on Jennifer Laughran’s tumblr. Related to Hannah Gómez’s tweets about the diversity checkmark in book reviews.
It reminded me of a VOYA review of Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman. Brugman’s writing is spectacular, Solo is one of my fav books and I really liked Alex as Well. Malinda Lo blogged about Perceptions of Diversity in Book Reviews last year. VOYA’s review of Alex as Well horrified me. Lo said,
This review presents this critique especially bluntly (emphasis added):
“The topic of intersex individuals and those with gender identity issues is receiving much attention lately, in news as well as in young adult literature. Alex’s story is certainly distressing, and teens need more resources on these topics. This novel, however, is overwrought and comes across as a cautionary tale of worst-case scenarios. Limiting the book to a few core issues would have made it more genuine and heartfelt. Sadly, it comes across as an afterschool special. Recommend this title to teens requesting books on gender identity issues only if they have read everything else in the collection.” — VOYA review of Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman
Excuse me!?! Malinda Lo continues:
“I don’t have any definitive proof that there’s an invisible ceiling on the number of issues a YA novel can contain, but reviews such as those above do police the boundaries of what is acceptable in a realistic YA novel.”
What she said. Read Alex as Well now. You’re welcome.