He left a year and a half ago to return to his birth mother–they moved to Florida–and it took a long time for life to settle back into some sort of rhythm without him. Now finding out through the grapevine that he will be back just brings up all these big thoughts and feelings: mistakes, slights, moments of extreme and human weakness, etc.
I have a great deal of compassion for anyone who has ever taken a child into her home and heart knowing that some day that child might be gone. And for the child who never quite knows where his home is going to be next year. And even for the parents who might not have their act together but in almost all cases truly love their children and want to work hard to be able to get them back. It’s just hard for everyone. I send love and compassion to anyone else who is experiencing this situation.
But since I had to be at the conference this weekend, most of these feelings got pushed under the surface. It was a great weekend, though. Full of learning, connecting, new and old friends.
One of the most satisfying moments of connection was when I found myself opposite Nancy Garden at lunch yesterday. Her novel Annie on My Mind was one of the first books about lesbians I ever found as a teenager, and I can’t describe the feelings of hope and understanding it gave me. Though I obviously write and keep this blog because I believe in books and their power to make life better for kids, I am still amazed to look back and think of the impact some books had on me.
This book was definitely one of them. And I am certainly not alone in this. This same book, orginally published in 1982 (the year I was born) is certainly one of the most influential GLBTQ books for teens, and I think maybe the first to really bring them into focus in the industry.
Nancy Garden has continued to write many books for GLBTQ kids and teens, and the reality is that there are not enough of these books, and there are not enough of these books that are hopeful and well-written, though they do exist. A colleague pointed out that none of the Stonewall Awards that the ALA gave out this year for GLBTQ books for youth featured a lesbian protagonist. So the work that women like Nancy Garden and Ellen Wittlinger do is invaluable.
Anyway, Nancy Garden was lovely and genuine and down to earth and she agreed to be interviewed for this blog, so look forward to that sometime in the nearish future.
And I thought I’d close this post with another list of good books generated by the brain trust that is my VCFA friends. This time the list is, timely enough, about Lesbian books for teens:
- Ash by Malinda Lo
- Huntress by Malinda Lo
- A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend
- Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
- Empress of the World by Sara Ryan
- (I would include Tipping the Velvet though it’s not usually called YA.)
- The Necessary Hunger, by Nina Revoyr
- Wildthorn, by Jane Eagland
- Secrets of Truth and Beauty, by Megan Frazer
- The Vast Fields of Ordinary, by Nick Burd
- The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson
- Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger
- The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan
Hope you all are well.