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How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity Hardcover – October 6, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—This collection's refreshing perspective—that gay, lesbian, and transgendered lives simply are, as Cart states in the introduction, "as wonderfully various, diverse, and gloriously complex as any other lives,"—distinguishes it. Twelve acclaimed authors contribute stories ranging from sweet and nostalgic to lyrical and desperate, capturing the blissful/painful process of self-discovery. Highlights include Margo Lanagan's retelling of "The Highwayman" from a voyeuristic stable boy's point of view and Gregory Maguire's story told from different points in time, in which an 18-year-old Iranian-American boy discovers the impact a summer of accidental love can have on his entire life. The formats and settings of the stories are as varied as the characters. Graphic novelist Ariel Schrag's "San Francisco Dyke March" gives funny tourist observations, and in "Happily Ever After," Eric Shanower illustrates how love, not genies, fixes troubled relationships. William Sleator's compelling Thai character finds a dangerous love. Francesca Lia Block, David Levithan, and Emma Donoghue customize the epistolary story. Julie Anne Peters skillfully voices two teen girls' trepidation and ecstasy during their first sexual encounter. Ron Koertge's "My Life as a Dog" is an ingenious metaphor for coming out, and in "Trev" Jacqueline Woodson gently allows Trev to accept his gender identity. This collection, with some detailed sexual descriptions, is sure to find its intended teen audience.—Amy J. Chow, The Brearley School, New York City END
About the Author
Michael Cart is a writer, a lecturer, a consultant, and a nationally recognized expert in YA literature. He is the former director of the Beverly Hills (California) Public Library and a past president of the Young Adult Library Services Association, and his column "Carte Blanche" appears monthly in Booklist magazine.
He is the author or editor of twenty books, including the gay coming-of-age novel My Father's Scar, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; From Romance to Realism: 50 Years of Growth and Change in Young Adult Literature; and—with Christine A. Jenkins—The Heart Has Its Reasons, a critical history of young adult literature with gay/lesbian/queer content. His many anthologies include Love and Sex: Ten Stories of Truth, Necessary Noise: Stories About Our Families as They Really Are, and How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity.
In 2008, he became the first recipient of the YALSA/Greenwood Publishing Group Service to Young Adults Achievement Award, and in 2000, he received the Grolier Foundation Award for his contribution to the stimulation and guidance of reading by young people. Mr. Cart lives in Columbus, Indiana.
Francesca Lia Block, winner of the prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Award, is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling books, including Weetzie Bat; the book collections Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books and Roses and Bones: Myths, Tales, and Secrets; the illustrated novella House of Dolls; the vampire romance novel Pretty Dead; and the gothic werewolf novel The Frenzy. Her work is published around the world.
David Levithan is the critically acclaimed author of eight books for teens, many of which have appeared on ALA's Best Books for Young Adults list, including Boy Meets Boy, for which he won a Lambda Literary Award.
Christine Heppermann and Ron Koertge are the authors of acclaimed young adult books and are writing for young readers for the first time. After meeting through Hamline University’s MFA program, they decided to collaborate. Christine lives in New York, and Ron lives in California, so they work most of their magic long-distance.
Julie Anne Peters lives in Lakewood, Colorado.
Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of more than a dozen books, including a bestselling memoir, a collection of short stories entitled Remind Me to Murder You Later, and three novels for adults. Her novel Getting In won the Alex Award from the American Library Association in 1998 for an adult novel with special appeal to young adult readers. Since 1988 she has been a professor of English at Colby College.
Jenny Boylan lives at the end of a dirt road in Maine with a Sasquatch, a wind elemental, two weredogs, and a leprechaun.
Emma Donoghue was born in Dublin and lived in England for many years before moving to Canada. She writes in many genres, including theatre, radio drama and literary history, but is best known for her fiction, both historical (Slammerkin, The Sealed Letter, Astray, Frog Music) and contemporary (Stir-fry, Hood, Landing, Touchy Subjects). Her seventh novel, Room, won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Canada and the Caribbean region) and was shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prizes. It sold more than two million copies. Donoghue scripted the film adaptation, a Canadian-Irish film by Lenny Abrahamson starring Brie Larson, which was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Top customer reviews
It's come to be one of my favorite short stories. In the end, the story is a romance. But save for one scene, there is almost no romance in the story. The novella feels real, which is Maguire's talent. You'll read about two boys at the end of adolescence finding in each other comfort and a reprieve from the drama and tragedy that plagues them in their late teens while getting insight into their later lives as adults. It is excellent. I couldn't recommend this story and this book enough.
The book starts with a tale of young romance narrated by an unknown spirit of gays past now observing gays present and projecting their future. There are a number of brief views into the hesitancy of young romance with all the mental anguish so many teenagers suffer over their affection for another and that person's response. A young transwoman relates her first venture outside her home dressed as te girl she knows she is. In First Time, Julie Anne Peters expresses all their joys and fears as two girls stumble their way through their first full loving experience.
Two adult perspectives complete the picture. A woman writes (again) to the daughter she lost when she lost her partner, who refuses to allow contact with the child they shared for several years; she doesn't know if this daughter ever receives her letters. A young Muslim father remembers as he travels with his two sons back to his Alma Mater to hear his former lover perform in concert. He has chosen to suppress his true feelings to live as his Iranian parents desire.
Every reader will react differently to these stories, probably preferring one over another for their own reasons. The main point, I think, is that there are joys and sorrows in all relationships, no matter our orientation or identity.