The Readings Teen Advisory Boards talks queer representation in YA books
This month, the Readings Teen Advisory Board met with author Alison Evans, who shared their writing process, and discussed queer representation in YA books more generally. Below are some of their thoughts on this topic, as well as a round-up of recommendations for Euphoria Kids, the new book from Evans.
What are your thoughts on queer representation in YA literature?
‘I think it’s important that queer authors continue to be given a platform. The best representation comes from experience.’ – Riley
‘Not enough, and not intersectional enough. That said, it’s come a long way. Overall, I’m excited to see where it will go.’ – Thea
‘I feel like this category is largely underrepresented and not what I see often on the shelves of bookstores and libraries.’ – Carolyn
‘I find that many YA books include cis white gay men, normally as side characters, and though it’s nice to see this kind of queer rep, it’s often the only type. I see hardly any queer women, bisexuals or trans characters, especially people of colour.’ – Siena
What are your favourite books that feature queer characters and relationships?
‘ I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is one of my absolute favourites. I also really like Tamora Pierce’s work – particularly the Alanna quartet (which is definitely canonically queer and pretty queer on its own).’ – Thea
‘ Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye and Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman.’ – Riley
‘I haven’t read many books that feature queer characters or relationships, but the Shadowhunters series and Magnus Banes book by Cassandra Clare – where Magnus is a gay warlock – was an addictive read.’ – Carolyn
How can booksellers, librarians, authors, teachers, and other ‘gatekeepers’ better raise the profile of books featuring queer characters and relationships?
‘Have them presented more as books of merit in their own right. By having them in the 'LGBTQIA+ books’ spaces, the books inherit the stigma surrounding it. By coming across themes frequently but of their own accord, kids learn that being queer is really normal.‘ – Thea
'It’s probably down to getting into the eye of the public and educating the public. This could be advertising online, blogs, or putting the books on 'must-read’ shelves or at the centre of attention. I know for me I’d love to read books discussing queer relationships, but I don’t go out of my way to actively search for them.‘ – Carolyn
Teen recommendations for Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans
'Completely beautiful.’ – Thea
‘This book was able to carefully and artfully weave fantasy and mystical creatures with real-life teenage life - adding a whimsical air to the story. It was refreshing to read a bool based on queer characters.’ – Carolyn
‘Alison Evans has a unique voice in both the fantasy genre and in queer literature. Euphoria Kids is especially important for young gender-variant Australians looking for representation.’ – Riley
‘It was so magically diverse and wholesome – it made me feel good reading it. It was like nothing I had ever read before, and I could really picture each scene and character.’ – Siena
‘A tale of mystic, magic and the charm of the fairy world, Evans made me wish that I could practise magic too. Showing self discovery and the power of magic, Euphoria Kids was a great read that let me escape reality.’ – Ananyaa