Sunday, 28 May 2017

A Diversified Bookcase with Simon James Green

A Diversified Bookcase is a feature where authors of diverse YA recommend other diverse YA novels by other authors - sometimes to us, sometimes to their characters. Today, Simon James Green, debut author of UKYA novel Noah Can't Even, is stopping by to recommend some books to his main characters, Noah and Harry.

Simon James Green

There’s nothing I enjoy more than recommending some great books to people – and what better people to recommend them to than my own characters from Noah Can’t Even! Noah and Harry both love to read, and I’ve got some fab diverse books lined up for them today, that I think they’ll both appreciate!

Nowhere Near You by Leah Thomas History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Nowhere Near You by Leah Thomas is the sequel to Because You’ll Never Meet Me, and Noah, this one’s for you. It picks up the story between Ollie (who causes power outages when he comes into contact with electricity), and Mortiz, (who is kept alive by an electric heart). They’re best friends – but they can obviously never meet, so they stay close by writing to one another instead. Both these boys have had highly unusual upbringings (no spoilers – read the first book!), and as a result, they find themselves struggling to fit in, and make sense of a world they really aren’t familiar with. But there’s part of them that really wants a normal existence, wants to fit in – a bit like you, Noah. What’s so lovely is their gradual realization that there is a place in the world for them and that people will accept them for who they are. Ollie says at one point, “…there’s room in us for the world! And vice versa!” and I think that’s a lovely sentiment – one that maybe you, Noah, could think about. Lots of people feel like they don’t fit in - you’re not that unusual really, so take some comfort from that and find those who accept you for you. Moritz and Ollie are best friends – just like you and Harry – and my goodness, are they a sweet pair. They look out for each other, support one another – honestly, their friendship is a truly beautiful thing. I hope you’ll read this, Noah, and really appreciate what you and Harry have got. In the book, Moritz is gay – but fundamentally, this is a book about friendship, the power of friendship, and how with the right person by your side, anything is possible. I think you’ll find a lot of parallels with your own life here.

Now, here’s one for you, Harry: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, is the story of Griffin, who’s lost his first love, Theo, in a drowning accident and deals with his grief and worsening OCD with the help of Theo’s new boyfriend, confronting some truths about his past in the process. This is an intense, beautiful story, told across different time periods, with a few plot curveballs revealed towards the end. The relationships in this are complex, sometimes messy, but feel real – and that’s why I think you’ll like it, Harry. We don’t really have much ‘coming out’ type angst in this book; instead we have characters dealing with the subtleties of relationships (including the half-truths and lies we sometimes tell), who happen to be gay. There’s also a tenderness to this story that I think you’ll love – people who feel so much for each other, it almost destroys them.

Right – I’ve got a couple more I want to throw both your ways too: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli) – it’s a beautiful read; Simon is an awesome character, and he’s going through a lot of the same stuff you two are. Boy meets Boy (David Levithan) is a lovely book and it has a heartwarming, uplifting ending, that just makes you feel like everything will be alright. Finally, pick up Grasshopper Jungle (Andrew Smith) it’s a stunning sci-fi type novel, but there’s some great LGBT stuff in there… along with giant, man-eating praying mantises too. What more could you want?!

So, you two, there’s a whole load of awesome LGBT YA fiction out there – I think you need to get reading.

Thank you, Simon, for the recommendations! I've already read History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, but I still need to read both Because You'll Never Meet Me and Nowhere Near You!

Do check out Simon's website, follow him on Twitter, and check out his debut novel Noah Can't Even!

Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green
Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green
(4th May 2017, Scholastic)


Poor Noah Grimes! His father disappeared years ago, his mother's Beyonce tribute act is an unacceptable embarrassment, and his beloved gran is no longer herself. He only has one friend, Harry, and school is...Well, it's pure HELL. Why can't Noah be normal, like everyone else at school? Maybe if he struck up a romantic relationship with someone - maybe Sophie, who is perfect and lovely - he'd be seen in a different light? But Noah's plans are derailed when Harry kisses him at a party. That's when things go from bad to utter chaos. From Goodreads.

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