Teens are more aware of sexuality and identity than ever, and they’re looking for answers and insights, as well as a community of others. In order to help create that community, YA authors David Levithan and Billy Merrell have collected original poems, essays, and stories by young adults in their teens and early 20s. The Full Spectrum includes a variety of writers—gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, transitioning, and questioning—on a variety of subjects: coming out, family, friendship, religion/faith, first kisses, break-ups, and many others.
This one of a kind collection will, perhaps, help all readers see themselves and the world around them in ways they might never have imagined. We have partnered with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and a portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to them.
This collection succeeds in being truly inclusive. Editors Levithan (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, reviewed May 1) and Merrell have carefully selected young people with various identities, from gay and bisexual to transgendered, who tell their own stories through essays, poems and, in one case, photography. The candor of these tales will immediately grab the attention of readers. Narrators range from a gay Boy Scout backpacking instructor to a college student in Iowa struggling to carve out an ambiguous gender ("My problem is that I don't want this 'girl-thing' hanging over me. I'm caught between the effort of being a guy and the struggle to not forget where I'm from") to a girl finding the strength to tell her best friend that she loves her. Often heartbreaking, the stories also include plenty of difficult material, from physical abuse to homelessness, but also warm moments, such as a gay man remembering the night his older military-bound brother "telling me he loved me just the way I was." They can be funny, too (one gay student, who had always had a lot of female friends, begins carrying feminine hygiene products to school in order to show support for his girlfriends, something that "gained me the importance of a drug dealer"). The quality varies, but overall, readers will be impressed by the bravery of the young authors here, and the clarity with which they present their experiences. Ages 12-up.