In light of the University of Alberta’s first institutionally-supported Pride Week, this posting showcases a high interest, low difficulty (Hi-Lo) book, Out.
With one year left in high school, good-looking student, Alex, has lucked out with a beautiful girlfriend, a part-time job and good friends to hang out with. Life seems perfect until the day he is caught off guard witnessing his father’s friend and church leader having an affair. What’s more, his brother Mark has started to change. Not only does he notice his brother exhibiting a different demeanor, he has become increasingly quiet and tied to home. It is only later that Alex finds out first hand, as Mark comes out to him, that his brother identifies as being queer.
Driven by action, this book provides its readers with a chance to identify with the complexities of the protagonist’s life as he realizes more and more that his understanding of justice needs to be re-examined. We all reach points of time when our rose-coloured glasses come off and we experience the harshness of reality and disappointment in the adult world. This book addresses a time when Alex begins to see the gaps between what he had expected to see in life and what really is out there. It offers readers an opportunity to re-examine life’s hard lessons and experiences of disappointment and anguish.
Note: As this book deals primarily with the experiences of Alex rather than his newly out brother, Mark, the emphasis is on the initial impact of such a revelation. Due to the short length of this book, it does not allow for a full resolution or coming to terms between the characters. It provides a very relateable entry-point for someone going through a similar experience. It may also help those who are newly-out in anticipating the reactions that they may encounter from those around them.
A review of this book: CM: A Reviewing Journal of Canadian Materials for Young People
See the author’s official website
To find other titles dealing with homosexuality in YA literature, a reliable resource is the Stonewall Book awards sponsored by the queer round table found within the American Library Association (ALA) website. While these awards feature multiple categories, covering a variety of audiences and intentions, they also celebrate outstanding works of YA and Children’s literature dealing with the GLBTQ experience.