How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity



How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity A Girl Thought To Be A Boy Steals Her Sister S Skirt, While A Boy Thought To Be A Girl Refuses To Wear A Cornflower Blue Dress One Boy S Love Of A Soldier Leads To The Death Of A Stranger The Present Takes A Bittersweet Journey Into The Past When A Man Revisits The Summer School Where He Had An Accidental Romance And A Forgotten Mother Writes A Poignant Letter To The Teenage Daughter She Hasn T Seen For Fourteen Years.Poised Between The Past And The Future Are The Stories Of Now In Nontraditional Narratives, Short Stories, And Brief Graphics, Tales Of Anticipation And Regret, Eagerness And Confusion Present Distinctively Modern Views Of Love, Sexuality, And Gender Identification Together, They Reflect The Vibrant Possibilities Available For Young People Learning To Love Others And Themselves In Today S Multifaceted And Quickly Changing World.

  • Hardcover
  • 368 pages
  • How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity
  • Michael Cart
  • English
  • 04 June 2019
  • 0061154989

About the Author: Michael Cart

Former Director of the Beverly Hills CA Public Library and a Past President of the Young Adult Library Services Association, Michael Cart is a nationally recognized expert in children s and young adult literature Now a columnist and reviewer for ALA s Booklist magazine, he is the author or editor of eight books, including From Romance to Realism, a critical history of YA literature MY FATHER S SCAR, a young adult novel that was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and the anthology LOVE AND SEX Ten Stories of Truth, also a Best Book for Young Adults and a Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.Michael teaches young adult literature at UCLA and is the recipient of the 2000 Grolier Foundation Award He lives in northern California.


10 thoughts on “How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity

  1. says:

    Cross posted at Outlaw Reviews and at Shelf InflictedI couldn t pass up this anthology, especially after learning that Margo Lanagan is one of the contributors I was also thrilled to see other well known writers I haven t discovered yet, like Francesca Lia Block, Emma Donoghue, and Julie Anne Peters This collection of stories focuses on teen GLT experiences from a variety of perspectives These are well crafted stories, filled with conflict, growth and change Because I enjoyed the majority of Cross posted at Outlaw Reviews and at Shelf InflictedI couldn t pass up this anthology, especially after learning that Margo Lanagan is one of the contributors I was also thrilled to see other well known writers I haven t discovered yet, like Francesca Lia Block, Emma Donoghue, and Julie Anne Peters This collection of stories focuses on teen GLT experiences from a variety of perspectives These are well crafted stories, filled with conflict, growth and change Because I enjoyed the majority of these stories so well, I will forgive the omission of bisexual experiences.My favorites in this collection A Word From the Nearly Distant Past by David LevithanThis short story was the basis for Levithan s later novel, Two Boys Kissing This was gorgeous, both in its short form and its longer form It examines the lives of a disparate group of teenagers and is told from the perspective of the men who lost their lives to AIDS My Virtual World by Francesca Lia BlockThis is a beautifully written, honest story about a friendship that develops online between two troubled teenagers They talk about art, pain, sexuality, gender identity, and gradually grow to trust and love one another Dear Lang by Emma DonoghueThis is a letter written to 16 year old Lang by her estranged mother Even though Lang doesn t remember she once had two mothers, her mom s pain and loss is still apparent I cried so hard and called my mom after I was done reading.The Missing Person by Jennifer Finney Boylan14 year old Jimmy knows he s a girl before he knows the word transgendered One summer he dons his sister s skirt, applies some lipstick and goes the local horse show as Jenny I loved the vivid descriptions that allowed me to get immersed in the festivities while seeing Jenny s unique personality emerge

  2. says:

    Anthologies are almost always a mixed bag Especially anthologies by multiple writers There s always at least a few stories that I just don t like, for whatever reason How Beautiful the Ordinary is doing good to have only two stories that didn t resonate with me.The subtitle Twelve Stories of Identity is a little cagey What does that mean, exactly Especially in a YA, where half the genre is about discovering who you really are Here, though, it means sexual and gender identity Yes, this i Anthologies are almost always a mixed bag Especially anthologies by multiple writers There s always at least a few stories that I just don t like, for whatever reason How Beautiful the Ordinary is doing good to have only two stories that didn t resonate with me.The subtitle Twelve Stories of Identity is a little cagey What does that mean, exactly Especially in a YA, where half the genre is about discovering who you really are Here, though, it means sexual and gender identity Yes, this is an anthology of LGBT stories I m guessing that the vague title and pretty but entirely nonspecific cover are to serve as a smokescreen for readers who are not comfortable revealing exactly what they re reading.The stories are fairly representative, and are obviously very carefully chosen Picking a favorite is difficult, but David Levithan s offering, A Word From the Nearly Distant Past which also offers up the title may be the strongest the spirits of gay men past looking in on the present, and their pride and jealousy Rounding out the top three in my opinion is Francesca Lia Block s My Virtual World, about finding love and acceptance online, and Emma Donoghue s heartbreaking Dear Lang, a letter written by the nonbiological mother of a child cut out of her life when her relationship with her biological mother ended There were only two stories that didn t work for me, and I wasn t surprised at either One was Margo Lanagan s A Dark Red Love Knot, and the other was Gregory Maguire s The Silk Road Runs Through Tupperneck, N.H The fact is that neither Lanagan nor Maguire have a writing style that appeals to me So I wasn t exactly shocked when I couldn t get into either of their stories.All around, a pretty strong collection

  3. says:

    Edited review today because I re read Dear Lang by Emma Donoghue God, this story is heartbreaking It s written as a letter from a lesbian mom, the nonbiological parent, to her child, Lang, years after the child was taken away from her by her partner and the biological mother It illustrates how tenuous lgbt rights can be and shows what the loss of a child must feel like, which is a terrifying thought for any parent To lose something so precious and irreplaceable, worse even than losing a lo Edited review today because I re read Dear Lang by Emma Donoghue God, this story is heartbreaking It s written as a letter from a lesbian mom, the nonbiological parent, to her child, Lang, years after the child was taken away from her by her partner and the biological mother It illustrates how tenuous lgbt rights can be and shows what the loss of a child must feel like, which is a terrifying thought for any parent To lose something so precious and irreplaceable, worse even than losing a lover Losing a part of yourself.So with this story and David Levithan s, this anthology is truly worth the purchase price and .Original review The first story, A Word from the Nearly Distant Past by David Levithan, was so touching and beautiful and poignant I teared up far too many times to be sensible in a 7 page span Even if the rest of the books sucks a big one, it was worth it for that story Justread it

  4. says:

    The story from which the title of this collection comes is by David Levithan It took me apart Entirely I think Levithan writes from the same place L Engle wrote from that calm and sure center where love lives, that place of hope untainted by delusion He s rapidly becoming one of my favorites I suspect this particular piece resonated so strongly with me because I can remember so clearly the time when all the beautiful boys were dying and we were powerless and afraid and fairly certain we we The story from which the title of this collection comes is by David Levithan It took me apart Entirely I think Levithan writes from the same place L Engle wrote from that calm and sure center where love lives, that place of hope untainted by delusion He s rapidly becoming one of my favorites I suspect this particular piece resonated so strongly with me because I can remember so clearly the time when all the beautiful boys were dying and we were powerless and afraid and fairly certain we were all in the path of that particular tornado The sense of having dodged that bullet never leaves me, nor the sense of loss and to hear those voices again, or Levithan s imagining of what those voices would say, was oh, hell, I m crying again just typing this So, yeah Best story of the collection, by a mile.There were some other stand out stories from some of the usual suspects as well as some unusual suspects like Gregory Maguire, who turned in a very strong piece about what we leave behind Margo Lanagan, whose Tender Morsels was exquisite, gives us a haunting re imagining of the old poem The Highwayman Julie Ann Peters takes us inside the heads of two young women having their first sexual experience told in dual columns with just a little overlap, it was a very effective format Four stars because Levithan s story is so strong Without that, I think it would be a solid three stars for me

  5. says:

    Well, other than the fact that the introduction kept saying lesbian, gay, and trangender, thus excluding bi, pan, and otherwise queer identified people, and the borderline transphobia and cissexism in two of the stories, this anthology was okay It felt very GL t to me, with 6 books about gay males, 3 about lesbians, 2 about trans guys and 1 about a trans girl David Levithan s story was fairly good, and a good reminder to younger queer people about older members of the community did before t Well, other than the fact that the introduction kept saying lesbian, gay, and trangender, thus excluding bi, pan, and otherwise queer identified people, and the borderline transphobia and cissexism in two of the stories, this anthology was okay It felt very GL t to me, with 6 books about gay males, 3 about lesbians, 2 about trans guys and 1 about a trans girl David Levithan s story was fairly good, and a good reminder to younger queer people about older members of the community did before them so they could be open about their identities

  6. says:

    When I read How Beautiful The Ordinary Twelve Stories Of Identity I thought it was great I thought some of these stories werefor adult than teens like the story by David Levithan s A Word from the Nearly Distant Past, in which Levithan recounts the experiences of generations past as they dealt with being in the closet, dealing with the AIDS crisis, and exhorts the younger generation to make sure that they live for future generations, as much as for themselves This one was one of my f When I read How Beautiful The Ordinary Twelve Stories Of Identity I thought it was great I thought some of these stories werefor adult than teens like the story by David Levithan s A Word from the Nearly Distant Past, in which Levithan recounts the experiences of generations past as they dealt with being in the closet, dealing with the AIDS crisis, and exhorts the younger generation to make sure that they live for future generations, as much as for themselves This one was one of my favorites in particular In the story by Emma Donoghue s Dear Lang, is a letter from a lesbian mother who has been denied access to her sixteen year old son by his biological mother, in which she tells the story of how she came to be banned from his life, and how she is just now taking the chance of having another child with a new partner WOW One of the best stories is Jacqueline Woodson s insightful Trev This story is about a transgender child, and the struggles he has with his family and at school to be who he really is Trev s mother both reassure him that he isn t the reason his father left, and yet whispers her wish to him every night at bedtime, that Trev will wake up my sugar and spice, and everything nice This story was really interesting to read because I can really visualize and feel the pain that Trev is going threw I would recommend this book to all teens because I feel like it sends a strong and powerful message of how you go thru life I really enjoyed reading this book because like I said I connected in visualize to the stories that some of these authors were talking about In a rank of one thru five I will have given this book a 5 due the great experiences and connection to the reader I really enjoyed reading How Beautiful The Ordinary

  7. says:

    I had no idea this was an LGBT book when I picked it up I was looking for a book of short stories to read for book club and the title and subtitle twelve stories of identity drew me in I think the ambiguous cover and title might make itappealing to teens who might not want it immediately visible what they are reading.The stories represented a wide variety of experiences, emotions, and styles There were one or two that just didn t click with me, but in an anthology that s not bad And I had no idea this was an LGBT book when I picked it up I was looking for a book of short stories to read for book club and the title and subtitle twelve stories of identity drew me in I think the ambiguous cover and title might make itappealing to teens who might not want it immediately visible what they are reading.The stories represented a wide variety of experiences, emotions, and styles There were one or two that just didn t click with me, but in an anthology that s not bad And there was such a wide range I think that just about everyone would find at least a couple stories that resonated with them As a bonus, you might discover some great YA authors and go read their books too

  8. says:

    The very first story here is a punch in the gut for anyone of the LGBTQ community and it had me head over heels for this book from the start I could take or leave some of the stories but overall, this was incredible And the forward is right For a long time, teens couldn t find books about people like them I know I couldn t find YA books about bi girls while I was struggling through high school as a bi girl It s so commonplace now that I think we forget how special it is This collection is The very first story here is a punch in the gut for anyone of the LGBTQ community and it had me head over heels for this book from the start I could take or leave some of the stories but overall, this was incredible And the forward is right For a long time, teens couldn t find books about people like them I know I couldn t find YA books about bi girls while I was struggling through high school as a bi girl It s so commonplace now that I think we forget how special it is This collection is an excellent reminder

  9. says:

    2.5 starsTrigger warning mentions of violence, mention of paedophilia tendencies, transphobia, biphobia, homophobiaContent warning bi pan aro ace erasureLike the last LGBT anthology I read, this book is dated It s dated in the way that it only covers the LGT space of the spectrum, but also that some of the LG stories are transphobic It s dated in the way that most stories probably wouldn t appeal to today s teens the way they might have done in the early 2000s.The first story, written by Da 2.5 starsTrigger warning mentions of violence, mention of paedophilia tendencies, transphobia, biphobia, homophobiaContent warning bi pan aro ace erasureLike the last LGBT anthology I read, this book is dated It s dated in the way that it only covers the LGT space of the spectrum, but also that some of the LG stories are transphobic It s dated in the way that most stories probably wouldn t appeal to today s teens the way they might have done in the early 2000s.The first story, written by David Levithan, gave a tone of liberation to this anthology It gave the impression that 2009 was a year when most of the work was done, that queer kids would be free to be themselves because of the work done by our predecessors Except it only rings true to white cis gays and lesbians Even then, trans kids had to hide themselves from a good part of the outside world In 2020, they re still facing a huge pushback from cis people, even inside the community.And that brings me to my next major problem with this book ncluding Ariel Shrag Even then, Shrag was transphobic Her chapter Dyke March contains a panel where the MC panics about all the lesbians turning into boys In a book about and for gay, lesbian and trans peopleWho s genius idea was that The only chapter that resonated with me, and that I think would still be relevant to today s queer teens, is Julie Anne Peters First Time That story about two girls having sex for the first time is truly beautiful It may seem crude to the older generation, as it doesn t shy away from the acts that are performed in those two girls intimacy, but it s the way it s spun with both characters thoughts sharing sides on the same page as the moment unfolds that is sure to find its way into the hearts of many readers even a decade later.If it weren t for that single story, I would probably have rated the anthology 1.5 stars The rest wasn t enough to lift up the whole

  10. says:

    Read about half of these Very meh Didn t feel like finishing.

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