2024 Trans Rights Read-a-Thon

Information graphic announcing the read a thon and the dates March 22nd through 29th and my two goals to raise money for OUT MetroWest and to read at least three books. The covers for the books are displayed in the picture and are also named in the text of the postThe 2024 Trans Rights Read-a-Thon has begun and this year I am fundraising for OUT MetroWest located in Framingham, Massachusetts!

“The Trans Rights Readathon is an annual call to action to readers and book lovers in support of Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV) on March 31st.”

My Fundraiser for OUT MetroWest

More information about the Trans Rights Readathon

I will be reading the following books this year:

“This Arab is Queer: An Anthology by LGBTQ+ Arab Writers”
Edited by Elias Jahshan

“Real Sugar is Hard to Find” a collection of short stories by
Sim Kern

“Breakout” – first novel in new series by Alek Cristea, described as a “space-opera/cyberpunk adventure featuring queer teens in space fighting back against oppression.”

Previous books I’ve read with Trans characters or written by Trans individuals include:

“The Thirty Names of Night” by Zeyn Joukhadar

“Seeds for the Swarm” by Sim Kern

“Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction” by K.M. Szpara et al.

Other books written by or with Trans individuals

“Lakelore” by Anna-Marie McLemore

“Depart, Depart!” By Sim Kern

“Hell Followed With Us” by Andrew Joseph White

“We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir” by Samra Habib

“VenCo” by Cherie Dimaline

“The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester” by Maya MacGregor

“The Wicked Bargain” by Gabe Cole Novoa

“The Evolving Truth of Ever-Stronger Will” by Maya MacGregor

“The Free People’s Village” by Sim Kern

“The Gilded Ones” trilogy by Namina Forna

“The Evolving Truth of Ever-Stronger Will” Review

The pink/purple cover has the face of a person half covered with flowers of various types and colors. Their hair and one blue eye is visible along with their lips and cheek. The author's name and book title are written at the top of the cover. Written by Maya MacGregor
Published by Astra Books for Young Readers, July 2023
264 pages
Completed November 25, 2023

Will is a 17-year-old on the cusp of freedom: freedom from providing and caring for their abusive, addicted mother, freedom from their small town with an even smaller mindset, and the freedom from having to hide who they truly are. When their drug dealer mother dies months before their 18th birthday, Will is granted their freedom earlier than expected. But their mother’s last words haunt Will: She cursed them with her dying breath, claiming her death was their fault. Soon their mother’s drug-dealing past threatens Will’s new shiny future, leaving Will scrambling to find their beloved former foster mother Raz before Child Protective Services or local drug dealers find them first. But how do you reconnect with family and embark on a new love when you’re convinced you destroy everything you touch?

This was a great read. I really enjoyed reading about Will slowly being able to take control of their own life and figuring out how to deal with everything that was happening. The book is written in second person and is almost entirely stream of consciousness but it was fairly easy to read. I think perhaps some of the chapter endings and beginnings could have been different but for the most part the story worked well. I liked the differences in all the other characters that Will interacted with. Their best friend has a lot of privileges and I liked the conflict there with her realizing that fact later on in the book. I also liked the resolution of the entire station. It all worked out well in the end.

“Invisible Son” Review

The cover is blue with streaks of purple and red. The face of a black teen is on the front with short black hair and headphones around his neck. His shoulders are seen but part of the blue of the cover. Written by Kim Johnson
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers, June 2023
416 pages
Completed September 18, 2023

Life can change in an instant.
When you’re wrongfully accused of a crime.
When a virus shuts everything down.
When the girl you love moves on.

Andre Jackson is determined to reclaim his identity. But returning from juvie doesn’t feel like coming home. His Portland, Oregon, neighborhood is rapidly gentrifying, and COVID-19 shuts down school before he can return. And Andre’s suspicions about his arrest for a crime he didn’t commit even taint his friendships. It’s as if his whole life has been erased.

The one thing Andre is counting on is his relationship with the Whitaker kids—especially his longtime crush, Sierra. But Sierra’s brother Eric is missing, and the facts don’t add up as their adoptive parents fight to keep up the act that their racially diverse family is picture-perfect. If Andre can find Eric, he just might uncover the truth about his own arrest. But in a world where power is held by a few and Andre is nearly invisible, searching for the truth is a dangerous game.

This book deals with a lot due to the book starting in February 2020 and going through the summer to August. COVID, the murder of George Floyd, and the protests that took place in the aftermath all take place as Andre is trying to find Eric. I don’t want to spoil too much but since it’s the first year of COVID a lot happens because of that along with everything else. There’s a scene where Andre is eating some Ramen noodles and complains they’re too bland. Any reader who’s familiar with the symptoms of COVID will recognize that moment for what it is.

The crime Andre went away for is entirely someone else’s and the answers to why he was framed are all to realistic and simple considering who he’s dealing with. There’s a lot said about racism and the differences in how Black and Brown people are treated by the police and society and also the different outcomes for marginalized groups dealing with COVID along with everything else. I’m glad I read this book. I don’t want to ever get so comfortable in my own situation that I forget what others have dealt with and continue to deal with. This is definitely a book every white person should read. (That said if you’re currently dealing with ongoing issues from having had COVID and/or lost family members to COVID you may wish to avoid this book for that reason.)

As hard as it was I really enjoyed reading this book. Andre is a great characters and he has family and friends he can depend on. The family across the street was complicated but the kids are a good group of individuals who are finding their way. The ending is bittersweet – Andre is free at least, and there’s hope for the future, but his world is forever changed.

“Bianca Torre Is Afraid of Everything” Review

a person's head is on the top of the cover looking towards the left. Over the back of their head are three birds in flight going in various directions. below them as the title and authors name and a skyline of a city in the background. THe cover is purple and pink in the center with black on the edges. Written by Justine Pucella Winans
Published by Clarion Books, April 2023
384 pages
Completed September 12, 2023

Sixteen-year-old Bianca Torre is an avid birder undergoing a gender identity crisis and grappling with an ever-growing list of fears. Some, like Fear #6: Initiating Conversation, keep them constrained, forcing them to watch birds from the telescope in their bedroom. And, occasionally, their neighbors. When their gaze wanders from the birds to one particular window across the street, Bianca witnesses a creepy plague-masked murderer take their neighbor’s life. Worse, the death is ruled a suicide, forcing Bianca to make a choice—succumb to their long list of fears (including #3: Murder and #55: Breaking into a Dead Guy’s Apartment) or investigate what happened.

Bianca enlists the help of their friend Anderson Coleman, but the two have more knowledge of anime than true crime. As Bianca and Anderson dig deeper into the murder with a little help from Bianca’s crush and fellow birding aficionado, Elaine Yee (#13: Beautiful People, #11: Parents Discovering They’re A Raging Lesbian), the trio uncovers a conspiracy much larger—and weirder—than imagined. But when the killer catches wind of the investigation, Bianca’s fear of public speaking doesn’t sound so bad compared to the threat of being silenced for good.

In this absurdist, bizarrely comical YA thriller that is at turns a deceptively deep exploration of anxiety and identity, perhaps the real murder investigation is the friends we make along the way.

This was a fun read. The murder mystery was interesting but the way it was handled was a bit over ridiculous. However it being ridiculous was intentional given the description. Serious things would happen with only a brief mention from the adults and then the plot moved on… so the teenagers could solve the mystery. Which was fine but I ended up enjoying reading about Bianca’s character development more as they both figured out their gender identity (realizing they are non-binary) and also dealing with all their anxieties and fears. That was the more interesting part of the book for me. The characters are all great though I wish Bianca had been able to talk to their parents more, but that was realistic. At least they have their friend’s parents to rely on for that.

“Land of Big Numbers” Review

Four images in the shape of China are shown on the cover in various colors one half covering the other downwards. The title of the book is over the images.Land of Big Numbers
Written By Te-Ping Chen
Published by Houghton Mifflin, February 2021
256 pages
Completed: May 20, 2023

“Gripping and compassionate, Land of Big Numbers traces the journeys of the diverse and legion Chinese people, their history, their government, and how all of that has tumbled—messily, violently, but still beautifully—into the present.”

“Cutting between clear-eyed realism and tongue-in-cheek magical realism, Chen’s stories coalesce into a portrait of a people striving for openings where mobility is limited. Twins take radically different paths: one becomes a professional gamer, the other a political activist. A woman moves to the city to work at a government call center and is followed by her violent ex-boyfriend. A man is swept into the high-risk, high-reward temptations of China’s volatile stock exchange. And a group of people sit, trapped for no reason, on a subway platform for months, waiting for official permission to leave.”

“With acute social insight, Te-Ping Chen layers years of experience reporting on the ground in China with incantatory prose in this taut, surprising debut, proving herself both a remarkable cultural critic and an astonishingly accomplished new literary voice.”

I enjoyed all of the stories in this book one way or another. Some were a little confusing – but I’m pretty sure that was a the point in at least one case. Things were happening for basically no reason at all besides government regulations. Each story was interesting with good characters to learn about. That said to some degree I did feel like there could have been more variety in the stories told or at least more depths to the “why” of things if there was a specific cultural element to everything. Not that things have to be explained to outsiders but I felt like something was missing from some of the stories.