#DiverseAThon final thoughts and wrap up.

wp-1473318536527.pngSo DiverseAThon came and went in a whirlwind for me, it was the most wonderful experiences I have had in the bookaverse yet. I really feel like I changed this past week as a person. Both the things learned from the wonderful books I read (see below) and the astounding conversations had each night on the twitter chats, have really affected me and will stay with me now throughout my growing reading life.

The main thing I learned was to be more mindful of who the author is, where are they from, are they writing from their own experiences, are they of the same race, class, gender, sexuality, able-ism, neurodynamics as the characters they are writing? Own voices is important, not just to tick a box and say “yup, I read a book bi a Japanese American author, whats next on the list?” but to realise that marginalised groups are frequently forgotten about in the literature and publishing world too, buy buying, reading and reviewing a book about a gay black kid written by a gay black man is promoting marginalised groups and reading honest truth about their stories rather than the same type of story being entirely made up and written by a white female who has no 1st hand experience. As I said on the night of the last twitter chat however, this was not about building an army of people to hate the ‘societally-normal’ authors and ONLY read books from persons of a marginalised or diverse background. I am still going to read those books because I love to read and their stories are magical and touching too. It IS about always striving to read as much diverse literature as possible alongside those hetero-normal YA blockbusters we all know and love 😉

There is a feeling of aftermath where I’m in book-hangover mode, not down to one in particular amazing book but that it does feel odd to pick up a ‘normal’ book again after reading so colorfully this past week. I’m finding myself thinking “This isn’t rich enough” or “WHY IS HE NOT GAY AND KISSING THAT GUY INSTEAD OF HER GODDAMMIT!”… yes the feeling of ‘these books aren’t queer enough’ has always been a struggle for me!!

Okay so here is my weeks (with about 1.5 cheat days before it officially began!) statistics:
4 graphic novels
1 non-fiction
2 novels in verse
3 novels
Of these:
5 were diverse in race/ethnicity
2 were diverse in sexuality
1 was diverse in physical disability
1 was diverse in mental disability
1 was diverse in mental health condition (specifically disordered eating)
2 were diverse in body types
Nearly all of the works I read also included diversity of family set up, class and cultural differences
6 of the books I read could be classed as own voices.

I am only going to give 1-2 lines of plot recap here but will link all the GoodReads pages do you can read more about any you are interested in!

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
This book is about a girls journey though grieving the death of her best friend while battling a serious disordered eating condition. It is very honest and raw, I would definitely give a TW for self harm, depression, bulimia, anorexia and automatic thinking. I very much enjoyed the experience of reading it, but did find it difficult at times due to my own personal experiences. GoodReads

The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Although not written as a commentary on diversity or societal thinking i am including this because it is an own voices book, written my a Spanish author about Spanish culture and history in Barcelona, and it both taught me a lot about the culture there and made me want to research more about Spain in this era. This book is the most exciting book I have ever read, it is hands down my best book of 2016 so far.  Goodreads

Blue is the Warmest Colour by Julie Maroh
This graphic novel is about a girl called Clementine, growing up, discovering herself and making sense of feelings she is having regarding another girl she meets by chance a few times. This story SPOKE TO ME, it is written so beautifully and honestly telling the feelings so many will have felt before in their early lives when they realise they are falling in love for the first time. Julie Maroh the author and illustrator is a gay women herself and her truth shines through in this wonderful book. Goodreads

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
This quick read really floored me. From the excellent introduction explaining how this book got to be translated and brought over here to Europe right through to the short story at the end of the book – this piece of non-fiction is something that should be read by everyone, whether you are close to someone with autism or not. This book is a series of questions and answers about the behaviour of children with autism and is written by a 13 year old Japenese boy with very severe Autism. It truly breaks the stigma and misconceptions of autistic behaviour and i think it would give anyone a lesson on not judging someone before you get to understand the world that THEY live in, not how htey fit into YOUR world. Goodreads

The Woods Vol 1 by James Tynion IV
This is a somewhat typical graphic novel about a diverse group of kids who somehow have to save their world from a large enemy. What stood out to me though was the art style. The bright pinks and purples and fun full page panels really gave it life. I picked it up for this readathon mainly because I had read it had some POC characters and an overweight character. Although the diversity is there there is not much commentary yet on it, but I will pick up Vol 2 and go from there. Goodreads

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
This novel set during the American civil rights movement is written by lesbian author Robin Talley. I really loved this book because although the main action throughout was the racial issues, it didn’t feel like that was the real story being told or what I took away from it. It really beautifully dealt with the idea that accepting yourself is a long process that may not happen over night and other people can really surprise you because no matter what you think of someone everyone has the capacity to love and be loved and that unites us beyond any social partitions like race/gender/sexuality/cultural beliefs etc. Goodreads

One by Sarah Crossan *****
The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan ****
Neither of these novels written in verse are own voices work but you can tell from the writing and the author’s notes at the end of the books that Crossan did extremely in-depth research and used the interviews with and stories about the relevant people to truly be able to write from the heart still. One is about the lives of conjoined twins Tippi and Grace and The Weight of Water is about a girl called Kasienka who moves from Poland to England with her mother in search of her father who recently walked out on them. They both told heartbreaking stories about the kind of experiences WE ALL feel, crossing any divide that may stand. Goodreads

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
This graphical novel based on experiences of the Authors own life tells 3 different stories all discussing identity and figuring out where you fit into your world. The first is a Christian take on an old Chinese fable of the Monkey King, next is a story about Jin Wang an American born Chinese boy who is trying to fit into high school despite being very different to most of his peers and lastly a story about Danny, an American high school kid who feels like his life is being ruined because his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee has come to live with him. Goodreads

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Although not blatantly commenting on diversity, I saw in this grpahic novel written by two bi-racial authors, a rainbow of characters and differences – talk of class, body shape, family type, adoption etc. It really moved me and I really connected with the story. Goodreads





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