George M. Johnson pulls no punches in All Boys Aren't Blue. The result? We are gifted with a clear-eyed memoir full of heart about growing up and coming out as a queer man of color. Johnson's powerful, yet conversational, personal essays illustrate his manifesto by providing readers welcome lessons in what it means to be truly seen, how our culture chooses NOT to see, and the detrimental impacts that has on our society as a whole. Required reading for all humans. -Katie, Essex
Katie D.'s Picks
The Essential DTWOF is a compilation of Bechdel's groundbreaking comic strip from 1983-2008. There are myriad ways to get lost in Dykes to Watch Out For. Enjoy it with cup of tea on a chilly afternoon when you need to spend some time with good friends on a page. Leave it on the nightstand for a quick read before bed when you want to visit with Mo and Jezanna at Madwimmin Bookstore. There are myriad reasons to to love this book, too. Bechdel's expressive illustration, the funny, serious, and salient storylines. But mostly, for me, what makes DTWOF so special is the wonderfully real characters in their everyday relationships and how they interact with the world around them. -Katie, Essex
When Vivek's fabric-wrapped body is found lifeless on is mother's porch, the mysterious journey of the death, life, and loves of Vivek Oji begins. This is a beautiful and deeply moving novel of love in all its facets: familial, friendship, romantic, and self. Vivek Oji will stay with you a long time. -Katie
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Spanning across three eras of civil unrest and war, this timely middle-grade thriller is about three families fleeing violence in their home countries. I would love to see Refugee as required reading for all ages. Three central characters: Josef, from 1940s Germany; Isabel, from 1990s Cuba; and Mahmoud, from present day Syria, are at once courageous and fearful and so very human. Gratz captured the true-to-life violence these families went through with painstaking research. Refugee is, simply put, captivating and necessary.
For those who love stories about animal and human relationships, Pax is told through alternating perspectives of a boy and his pet fox during a fictional time of war. Sara Pennypacker leads the reader on a journey of love and loss, tragedy and triumph, independence and reliance. Most important for me, Peter and Pax learn to recognize and accept help along each of their paths of self-discovery. Pax is a beautifully told and exceptionally researched story of friendship.