Tag Archives: LGBTQ+

Book Club Spotlight – Pet

Cover for

When asked to write a flagship title for the new Random House imprint “Make Me a World,” author Akwaeke Emezi set out to create a story that they would want to read if they were a teen today. Their final product, Pet, surpasses that goal, having earned a spot in TIME Magazine’s “100 Best YA Books of All Time”. In 2021, Emezi was named a Next Generation Leader by TIME and is a National Book Foundation “5 under 35” honoree, setting the standard (and a high bar) for contemporary childhood reading and authors alike. 

“There shouldn’t be any monsters left in Lucille.” In the utopic town of Lucille, “angels” have defeated and locked away all the “monsters,” creating a small paradise where all are welcome. Unfortunately, these angels, who then took up positions of power, only locked away these monsters, and did not prevent them from being created. Then, one summer night, a horrifying creature emerges from Jam’s mother’s painting and warns her of a monster still in Lucille. And when the adults refuse to believe them, Jam, and the creature, Pet, have no choice but to go on the hunt alone. Finding themselves deep in the local library’s archives, Jam, with her best friend Redemption and Pet, finally learns what monsters are and how to spot them. The trio discover that the horrors the angels claimed to have defeated are still there. But with the world around them in denial, what can they do?

“But forgetting is dangerous. Forgetting is how the monsters come back.”

Akwaeke Emezi

Pet is a perfect jumping-off point for YA (or adult) book groups to explore the world of language and communication. Especially since Jam is selectively verbal, mainly communicating through sign, the language in this book is very specific and resounding. Because language is constantly evolving, Emezi asks the reader what happens when we lose the words that shape our experiences. Does something really go away just because you don’t talk about it? Community is also a strong theme in Pet, which can lead to discussions over how it affects our sense of self. For example, Lucille, an all-Black town, was written to be like the ones found in Toni Morrison’s novels, where they are a whole world unto themselves. What would it be like to live in such a welcoming and insular community like Lucille, where everyone belongs without question, even a Black trans girl like Jam? What does it mean when the characters say, “We are each other’s harvest? We are each other’s business. We are each other’s magnitude and bond”. And do they mean it?

Like our previous spotlight, Melissa, Pet was recently added to our collection thanks to a grant from the Reading Classic Committee. And a prequel, Bitter, was released in February 2022.

If you’re interested in requesting this book for your book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form here. (Items must be requested by a librarian)

Emezi, Akwaeke. Pet. Make Me a World. 2019.

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Book Club Spotlight – Melissa

Cover of Melissa by Alex Gino published by Scholastic. The title is in big colorful block letters, with a drawing of a young person (Melissa) peaking out from the LA"

Today’s Book Club Spotlight, Melissa (previously published as George) by Alex Gino is a beautiful story that explores bullying, self-expression, and having the courage to stand up for yourself and your friends. I have always appreciated books that don’t talk down to children and aren’t afraid to explore tough topics while handling them with care. And Melissa is a perfect example of one of those books. Recently added to our collection thanks to a grant from the Reading Classic Committee, Melissa is a winner of the Stonewall Book Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and Alex Gino is a Children’s Choice Book Award Debut Author.

Melissa is like any ten-year-old girl; she loves tween magazines, cute clothes, and her awesome best friend. However, she also has some big problems. Not only does she have to deal with awful bullies at school, the whole world sees her as a boy named George!  As a school project, Melissa’s grade is putting on a play of Charlotte’s Web, and she desperately wants to play the wise and supportive Charlotte. But her dreams are crushed when her teacher tells her that “boys” can’t try out for “girl” parts.  Between school and a mother who thinks her girly interests are “childish,” Melissa doesn’t feel safe confiding in anyone that she’s transgender, except for her best friend. Taking inspiration from Charlotte’s confidence, the two girls form a plan to get Melissa the role she deserves. 

“It takes a special person to cry over a book. It shows compassion as well as imagination…Don’t ever lose that”

Alex Gino

Have you ever had to be brave in order to be who you truly are? Recommended for 8 to 12-year-olds, Melissa is a timeless and tender approach to finding yourself, which all readers (even adults) can relate to. Group discussion with your readers can focus on what it would feel like to be born in the wrong physical body, issues with parents, and how to support your friends when they are going through a difficult time. Melissa shows how gender conformity can hurt everyone, not just trans kids, and letting kids express themselves without fear of ridicule will lead to a more confident and happy future.

If you’re interested in requesting for your book club, you can find the Request Form here. (Items must be requested by a librarian)

To see more of our LGBT+ & Queer book club titles, visit the link here.

Alex Gino. Melissa. Scholastic Press. 2015

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#BookFaceFriday “The Brightsiders” by Jen Wilde

It’s Jem and the Holograms meets #BookFaceFriday!

We see your true colors shining through with this week’s Pride-themed Bookface! Nebraska OverDrive Libraries has a special collection this month “Rainbow Reads” dedicated to books, both fiction and nonfiction, telling LGBTQ+ stories. Just one title from the collection is “The Brightsiders” by Jen Wilde (Blackstone Publishing, 2018) it’s available as an Audiobook. Join teen drummer Emmy King in this rock and roll fantasy about the trials of stardom, friendships, and love.

“The author adeptly captures the essence and confusion that young people may go through when trying to figure out their identities. This inclusive romance features multiple LGBTQ+ protagonists, including a nonbinary character who uses the pronouns they/them… Perfect for collections seeking high drama and romance.” School Library Journal

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. 180 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 25,520 audiobooks, 32,303 eBooks, and 3,403 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

This week’s model is NLC’s Information Services Librarian, Aimee Owen, she’s the better half of this Bookface duo. Aimee’s back in the office after a year of working from home, and I gotta say, I’m really excited to have her here!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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