A friend of mine had a book published last week. This is not going to be a review, but rather a comment; I liked it OK but I’m not the right audience to fall in love with it. I think I know who might be, though; at least I can offer some parameters.
The book is The Second Mango, by Shira Glassman, published by Prizm Books. I don’t agree with the book’s blurb entirely (the engaging parts are accurate; it’s just wrong in spots). So instead I will tell you that it has a gay woman and a straight woman who are friends. There is also romance in the book, both same-sex and opposite sex. There’s a dragon and a wizard, a quest and lots of character development. There’s an older male hero who doesn’t look like a twenty-year-old model. There’s the sort of food intolerances that you can name in five people you know IRL and no one you know in a book. The world and the characters are Jewish in approximately the way most kids’ books from Victorian times through about the mid-1960s are Christian; there’s no preaching (much less than in, say, Little Women or E. Nesbit – though admittedly Nesbit is more likely to preach Socialism than religion) but it influences the characters’ speech, their acts, and the holidays they celebrate.
And there is sex; it’s not explicit but it’s unmistakeable. For the book’s main characters, the emotional response to their beloveds is inseparable from the physical response. That’s what makes this book a bit unusual, because in tone and writing style it isn’t an adult book or a YA: it’s an MG. I think this might be a worldshaking book for an LGBT teen who has a low reading level for their age (I suspect there are plenty of those; after all, I keep hearing about kids who are bullied in school or depressed by the rejection of their peers, and those aren’t good for your concentration on academics) or a kid who is realizing herself as a sexual being early or figuring out that maybe other people’s assumptions about what he will like aren’t always right. (The actual characters are in their very late teens or early twenties, so them having sex doesn’t feel inappropriate to me.) It would be enormously reassuring for a kid who identifies as gay and finds that her same-sex straight friends are backing off for fear she likes them in the ‘wrong’ way.It would also be great for a kid who isn’t Christian and is a bit tired of having that worldview underpinning all his fantasy books.
From what I know of my friend, I think Shira Glassman wrote it for a much younger Shira Glassman, and that’s in no way a bad thing. The MCs do have characteristics of Shira herself and her friends, but I don’t mean to imply that they’re Mary Sues: they don’t have every possible talent and other people don’t respond as if they’re irresistible. It’s more a case of writing what you know. They have faults and virtues; they make mistakes and act illogically at times. I tend to assume, when something bothers me, that I ought to speak out on the theory that I am not unique. If I’m told that everybody does / thinks / believes anything and I don’t, I assume there are others like me. I don’t think Shira is unique either, in this respect; clearly this is the book that would have connected with a young Shira, and I think there are probably plenty of other kids who are marginalized in some way for whom this is the perfect book.
(But if you happen to know a young Jewish bisexual woman who leans gay but has a weakness for older men and dragons, you need to go buy her a copy RIGHT NOW.)
Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.