Speak No Evil – Uzodinma Iweala

Uzodinma IwealaThis remarkable book is about two young people in Washington DC. Niro is a 17-year-old African-American who is graduating from High School and then on to Harvard. But Niro has a painful secret – he is gay, a wicked abomination to his conservative Nigerian parents. Niro’s best friend is Meredith but she is unable to provide Niro with the help and support that he needs. Niro is emotionally lost and conflicted with heartbreaking self-loathing and his relationship with Meredith comes to a tragic ending: powerful storytelling.

When Everything Feels Like The Movies – Raziel Reid

This book provides a demoralizing and disturbing view of young people in small-town Canada. Life is particularly dismal for Jude as a gay teenager who is bullied. This is an important book to read but it will be uncomfortable (but Ru still deserves to have won the Canada Reads competition).

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

The Paying Guests by Sarah WatersThis is really excellent writing. At its core, this is a love story, an affair between two women but with complications. First, it is 1920s London, and second, one of the women is married. After a tragic accident, the psychological cost of maintaining a relationship is described vividly, particularly the madness associated with crime and punishment.

Holding Still For As Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall

9780887843013Another book from the CBC list; also Whittall was at a Walrus Talks panel discussion at Blue Metropolis. This is a relationship book about 20-somethings that is not preoccupied by drugs. Notably, there is a central trans-gender character, and this characteristic is treated without emphasis, just as it should be.



Cereus Blooms At Night by Shani Mootoo

111653A fierce story of Mala, a multi-layered individual: fiercely protective of her sister after her mother leaves; driven to murder by sexual abuse by her father; an interesting issue of her sanity when she is institutionalized. A book filled with vivid characters. (This is also on the CBC list; last month I recommended Valmiki’s Daughter)