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Voicing their Stories: Groundbreaking Representation

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This post was written by Abigail Sears, Sabrina Solomon and Mihir Kelkar, teen summer interns in the Library’s Informal Learning Office.

This is the second of two teen-written blogs for the National Book Festival. To access the first, click here.

The National Book Festival strives to represent diverse authors and experiences. At this year’s festival, the Young Adult (YA) stage will display a star-studded lineup of literature that takes groundbreaking strides in representation, making sure everyone’s stories are told.

The horror genre has traditionally excluded marginalized communities. Ryan La Sala, author of The Honeys, shatters these stereotypes in a ground-breaking young adult novel that features both major and supporting characters who identify as women, LGBTQIA, and BIPOC. The story centers on Mars, who enrolls at Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy in his twin sister’s place after she passes away. Mars begins to understand that not everything is as it seems after spending time at the academy among gorgeous and majestic girls during the lovely summer days. The setting of broad daylight and a happy location adds a whole new twist to the horror genre. In the novel, stereotypically lovely things are turned upside down and twisted into a gory yet beautiful drama. La Sala finds a way to handle topics of grief, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and more, whilst centering the novel around the main horror plot.

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir is a unique and heartfelt novel that focuses on South Asian main characters in a predominantly white community. One of my fellow interns noted that “I could see myself in the main character because she isn’t perfect, she has flaws. She seems genuine. It’s encouraging to see people portrayed honestly.” Salahudin and Noor, two modern-day teenagers in America, and Salahudin’s mother Misbah—who was raised in Pakistan in earlier times, alternate voices as Tahir relates the story through generations.

Black and white photograph of author Sabaa Tahir standing by brick wall with her hands on her hips.
Sabaa Tahir will present her newest book, All My Rage, at the 2022 National Book Festival.
CREDIT: Ayesha Ahmad Photography

The book provides a wealth of insight into the struggles that immigrants face as well as their children’s adaptation to life in the United States. Sabaa Tahir will be participating in the ”This World Wasn’t Made for Me” panel at this year’s festival to discuss the inspiration, meaning, and more of this masterfully crafted creation.

All My Rage and The Honeys are just two examples of the many tales readers can find at the National Book Festival addressing themes such as difficult family dynamics, holding on to one’s identity, and overcoming obstacles such as abuse and alcoholism, and more.

We are excited to present these stories that provide authentic and unique perspectives. We invite you and the teens in your life to this year’s NBF and the YA Stage to embrace the diversity in all of us. Whatever your interests are, there is something for everyone!

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