2015 Dive Into Diversity & LGBT Reading Challenges: October Recap

November 4th, 2015 11:20 am by Kelly Garbato

This month’s Dive Into Diversity & LGBT Reading Challenge roundup comes with the usual disclaimer: In several instances, I’m not 100% certain that the book’s diverse enough to be included in the challenge (for example, how to judge a book of short stories? Is one or two diverse tales out of a dozen or more acceptable?) – so I’ve included a brief note about each book’s qualifications at the end of the post, so you can judge for yourself.

Pro tip: these notes may contain spoilers.


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  • Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer (2013)

    Diversity: The first book in this futuristic fairy tale mashup (Cinder) is set in New Beijing – built on the ruins of Beijing, which was destroyed in World War IV – so most of the characters are presumably of Asian descent, including love interest Prince Kai. While the action shifts slightly to France with the introduction of Scarlet Benoit in Scarlet, Prince Kai, his advisers, and Cinder’s adoptive family all make appearances. Additionally, Scarlet’s Lunar-sympathizing grandmother is derided by the other townspeople as “crazy,” so much so that they police don’t much seem to care when she disappears. Scarlet’s father is an alcoholic.

  • Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto (2016); review coming soon

    Diversity: Westie lost an arm to cannibals and now wears a mechanical copper prosthesis. At just 17 years old, Westie is a recovering alcoholic.

    Alistair also survived a cannibal attack; he suffered injuries to his neck and jaw that left him mute and scarred. He wears a clockwork mask that hides the scars and also houses a voice box that allows him to speak.

    Rogue City is home to the Wintu, a Native American tribe; it’s their magic that protects the humans of Rogue City from creature attacks. They took Westie in and healed her after her escape. Bena Water-Dancer is one of Westie’s few close friends. Among the other named (but minor) characters are Big Fish, Grah, Rek, Chaoha, and Tecumseh.

    Nigel is originally from Africa, but spent most of his life in England before immigrating to America. His skin is described as a shade lighter than strong tea.

    Nadia, a victim of a cannibal attack, is a sex worker; Westie believes she’s unlikely to see justice because of her profession.

    Hung Zhoa, a Chinese woman, is a vendor at the morning market.

  • Because I Am a Girl: I Can Change the World by Rosemary McCarney, Plan International, Jen Albaugh (2015); reviewed here

    Diversity: Because I am a Girl profiles teenagers around the globe who are making valuable contributions to their families, schools, and communities; most of the individuals profiled are girls and young women of color in developing nations, including Nepal (Anupa), Zimbabwe (Lucy), Pakistan (Farwa), the Philippines (Marinel), Uganda (Hakima), South Sudan/Uganda (Kathryn), and Peru (Maryuri).

  • Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (2014); reviewed here

    Diversity: Solnit’s examinations of rape culture, violence against women, and unequal power dynamics between the genders are frequently intersectional in nature; look to examples, both positive and negative, from other countries; and reference specific events involving women of color. For example, she explores how Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s (“alleged”) assault of Nafissatou Diallo could be read as a microcosm of the IMF’s predatory abuse of power toward developing nations; how the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh in New Delphi ignited a backlash against rape culture in India; the potential of “gay marriage” to upend the rigid gender roles of traditional marriage, based as it is on the idea that women are property to be traded between men; the groundbreaking work of indigenous Canadian women; and how we might look to the Zapatistas to better envision the future of feminism.

  • Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn (2013); review coming soon

    Diversity: Annaliese’s best friend Gwen is gay (and Jewish). She finds out when the two take a trip to Ohio to meet Jaclyn, a girl Gwen met on an LGBT chat board. Jaclyn was a lesbian until her body was possessed by Anna – who’s primed to jump into Annaliese’s body next.

    Logan Rice, Annaliese’s crush, is described as having “golden-brown skin.”

    Anna’s mother is an alcoholic who physically and emotionally abuses her, and Jaclyn and Jess’s mom is a religious fundamentalist who physically and emotionally abuses them. Dex’s mom is an agoraphobe (maybe. There’s a supernatural element to it, but she seems to suffer from agoraphobia as a side effect.)

    Annaliese’s parents are weirdly and casually racist; when confronted with her new affinity for Indian food, they speculate that maybe it was an Indian who kidnapped her. It was all just so odd and random, and was a thread that was dropped pretty early on.

  • Bitch Planet, Vol 1: Extraordinary Machine (Bitch Planet #1-5) by Kelly Sue DeConnick (2015)

    Diversity: YAAAAAS! A number of the women imprisoned on “Bitch Planet” are WOC: Kamau “Kam” Kogo, Penelope “Penny” Rolle, Meiko Maki, Nut Suhair, Violet, Renelle, and April and May Liu. Prisoner Marilyn Gunning has Down Syndrome (her crime is listed as Trisomy 21). There’s at least one lesbian couple (interracial), Renelle and Fanny.

    We also meet Penny’s grandmother, Bertha, in an extended flashback sequence (“The Secret Origin of Penny Rolle”). Penny and Bertha are both “obese” – an infraction in this patriarchal society – and Penny even names her bakery “Born Big,” and sports a tattoo of the same design. Meiko’s father Makoto also plays a role in the story, and we get a glimpse of her mother (unnamed) as well.

    Roberto Solanza, off-world overseer of Bitch Planet, is Latino. The two unnamed control operators (?) are black, as is Father’s unnamed assistance (who he condescendingly refers to as “young man”).

    Reportedly the single issues each feature a feminist essay, which sadly are not included in the TP. However, the discussion guide does feature a sizeable paragraph (relative to the others) on intersectionality.

  • Blood and Salt (Blood and Salt #1) by Kim Liggett (2015)

    Diversity: The people of Quivira are descendants of four families: Grimsby, Hanratty, Larkin, and Mendoza. Ash describes the women (and presumably the men too) as having three distinct “looks”: “Some had thick black hair and olive skin. Others were sturdily built, megawatt blondes, and then there were redheads with spindly limbs and wide smiles.”

    The colony was originally founded in the 1500s, when Spanish conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado saved the immortal Katia from a Spanish prison and brought her to the New World in exchange for a blood bind that would grant him mortality alongside her. She fell in love with one of his soldiers, Alonso, starting a centuries-long feud. Coronado’s descendants also live in Quivira, but are shunned too varying degrees for their “Mixed” blood.

    There are a number of characters who are described as having dark hair and olive skin, including Dane (the Romeo to Ash’s Juliet); his sister, Lauren; and his mother, Teresa (a “Mixed” like her son). Coronado, Alonso, and Katia are people of color as well. Weirdly, though you’d expect the Mendozas to be among those with darker skin and hair, this isn’t always so; Brennan, for example, looks like a Nordic god. Then again, Lauren has olive skin like her brother, even though they don’t share a mother (and her Coronado heritage).

  • Slasher Girls & Monster Boys edited by April Genevieve Tucholke (2015)

    Diversity: Several of the stories feature teenagers whose parents abuse drugs, alcohol, their partners, and/or their children: “Verse Chorus Verse”; “Hide-and-Seek”; and “Stitches” come to mind.

    Jaycee, the protagonist of “Verse Chorus Verse,” is a child star sent to rehab after hitting a man while driving drunk; she was also raped by a photographer when she was just fourteen.

    The girls of Azalea Street use the supernatural to defeat the neighborhood pedophile in “The Birds of Azalea Street.” (He stalks and harasses them, but a bird woman dispenses with Leonard before his behavior can escalate further.)

    Marnie’s mother committed suicide in “The Dark, Scary Parts and All.”

    In “Fat Girl With a Knife,” Dahlia finds that her size is advantage in the zombie apocalypse.

    Misha – the titular M in “M” – was blinded by typhoid (or rather, the poultice used to treat her fever) as a child. Passed among relatives, everyone assumes she’s “simple” because she can’t see and rarely speaks.

  • Mad Max: Fury Road (Mad Max: Fury Road – Prequels #1-4) by George Miller, et al. (2015); review coming soon

    Diversity: The TP consists of five comic books: “Nux & Immortan Joe,” “Furiosa,” “Max Part One,” “Max Part Two,” and “The War Rig.” In “Nux & Immortan Joe,” Nux’s father has light brown skin and dreadlocks. Of the five “wives” we meet in “Furiosa,” one is a WOC (Toast the Knowing, played by Zoë Kravitz in the film). In “War Rig,” we briefly meet Annette Lehman and Janine Kwong, the original owners of the VW Beetle that was eventually repurposed as a gun emplacement on Immortan Joe’s tanker; they died of radiation poisoning due to the fallout from nuclear war. Disability is common in this polluted dystopia (and oftentimes associated with evil); many people suffer from genetic mutations, and Furiosa is missing an arm.

  • Shutter (Shutter #1) by Courtney Alameda (2015)

    Diversity: Ryder McCoy is part Aboriginal Australian, on his mother’s side; Micheline variously describes his skin color as “hazelnut” and “five-shot latte.” Micheline’s father rescued Ryder from an abusive home, yet in the wake of an attack that left his wife and two sons dead, he has become emotionally distant (you could even say abusive) toward Micheline. During one confrontation, he even strikes his daughter. Micheline suffers from PTSD after witnessing – and failing to prevent – the deaths of her mom and younger brothers. (In the immediate aftermath, she was placed on antipsychotics and suicide watch.) Jude’s girlfriend, Bianca Hsieh, is Chinese; her family immigrated to the US from Hong Kong after the “paranecrotic holocaust.”

  • Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories by Zack Whedeon et al. (2010)

    Diversity: Not much. One of the villains in the Evil League of Evil is black, and a few crowd shots include people of color.


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