Queer Inheritance, Part I

Still from “Heaven,” by Troye Sivan

In my blog post on All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, I noted “the talk” as a form of cultural inheritance that reveals how many black parents instruct their children to respond when confronted by the police.1 “The talk” appeared again in Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, and while this is an extremely unfortunate instance of cultural inheritance, it has led me to inquire how other communities explored in the frameworks of this course might enact similar exchanges.2

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  1. Heggestad, Jon. “Race, Racism, Privilege & the Weight of Mistakes | Young Adult Literature & Social Justice as Pedagogy.” Young Adult Literature & Social Justice as Pedagogy, 9 Sept. 2017, https://you.stonybrook.edu/yajustice/2017/09/09/race-racism-privilege-the-weight-of-mistakes/.
  2. Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give. Balzer Bray, 2017, p. 20.

(Mis)labeling Disability

In “‘Why Would I Want to Hear?’: Cochlear Implants in Young Adult Fiction,” Marion Rana commends the increasing number of protagonists in YA literature that represent minority groups from “the margins of society.”1 While Rana’s article focuses on the representation of deaf characters, she notes that the genre has made a general shift away from portraying characters with disabilities in “problem novels only.” While a greater range of representation is certainly reason to celebrate, many works still do utilize the old frameworks of problem novels, but in a subversively progressive way of their own.

In Neal Shusterman’s Challenger Deep, 14-year-old Caden shifts between two narratives—one fantastic and one realistic—that slowly begin to merge. For Caden, this event reveals the full extent of his mental illness. As the novel progresses, Caden learns not only which reality to trust, but how he can come to terms with the new future laid before him, one in which his sanity and his creativity frequently wage war.

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  1. Rana, Marion. “‘Why Would I Want to Hear?’ Cochlear Implants in Young Adult Fiction.” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, no. 1, 2017, p. 69.