Wait, a Politician Wrote a YA book?
Okay, now that I've drawn you in, I want to clarify two points:
- We're talking a State Representative, I'm not reviewing, like, Paul Ryan's fiction or something (thank God). So I think people usually view those representatives with less disdain?
- Zenobia July barely counts as a YA book. Don't get me wrong, it is sold as YA, it is pitched to people as YA, but it is in some liminal state between Young Adult and Middle Grade. It is the youngest Young Adult book I have read in a long time.
Here's some facts about Lisa Bunker from the back jacket flap:
- 30 year career in radio
- Elected official
- married with two grown children
- “geekeries include: chess, piano, gender, storycraft, and language”
I know she previously wrote another book, Felix XYZ, but I don't know anything about it, so I'm not going to mention it. But you should probably read it.
This will just be a general view of the book.
Some things I noticed about the book, is that it didn't fall victim to a common aspect of YA fiction, where everyone (who isn't white) is othered.
“A boy talked” = white. default. “A black boy talked” = black. must draw attention to this. Possibly compare skin to food.
I'm not saying to never mention someone's race or ethnicity of course, it's more, there are better ways to do it.
In this book, no one's skin color was directly mentioned, at least that I caught, but you could draw inferences to their race or ethnicity. In general I think this was true of people not being othered.
When people are othered, it's generally explained why that's wrong. Like the “Where are you from” question.
There are great explanations of transgender to genderqueer. Genderqueer gets more of a direct explanation, whereas you get the entire book to explain transgender more with feelings.
The plot is not about being outed. Let me say that again. There is a small subplot about outing, but that is not the plot. The plot is a cyber mystery.
You could probably miss it if you weren't paying attention, but part of the book is about not taking places as monoliths. Like states (hint hint). I can't speak to that part of New England because I haven't been there in years, but if I gave Nebraska for an example, because of its split electoral voting map, Lincoln and Omaha are “liberal” and the rest of the state votes Red. That's extremely simplified, and you're still taking things as monoliths, but that gets you a mix on policies on the state level, and gets you Red representatives on a national level. I think part of this book was to consider queerness in places you don't normally consider it instead of someone who just goes FUCK THE SOUTH/MIDWEST/. Yes, I know where New Hampshire is geographically, but I don't know their political situation, even if I have a guess.
There are so many good parts of this book I could get into, but basically I recommend reading it for yourself. It's a quick enough read, your library probably has it, and I really doubt anyone is waiting for it.