19 love songs by David Levithan
Text Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781922268921.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Short stories. This collection by award-winning author David Levithan is full of heart-warming, sometimes funny, stories of young friendship and love. The scathing humour of quiz bowl team member, Alec, immediately drew me into the first story 'Quiz Show Antichrist', the story of a mismatched quiz team vying in an interschool competition, and I often had to laugh at his jokes. But at its heart is the story of his unarticulated crush on Damien, the cool guy, little realising that true love lies elsewhere, close at hand.
'The Good Girls' is the story of a boy who hung out with all the good girls - a sisterhood and he was the brother. Only gradually does he become aware of his gayness and develop a circle of good guys. It is a gentle story, no bad things happen, just a gradual awakening.
This is the flavour of this set of stories - gentle love songs. I must admit I caught my breath on reading of the date between six-foot-four transgender star quarterback Infinite Darlene and cute male cheerleader Cory from the opposing team. I kept anticipating something mean, some cruel sabotage, but no, it is a lovely first date, ending with a first kiss.
The other stories, which include a cartoon strip on first kisses, a song playlist and a poem, all provide insight into the gradual exploration of identity, friendships and love.
The final poem 'Give Them Words' dedicated to librarians, teachers, writers and others, highlights the power of words to share experience and understanding of others. This book is a wonderful collection of words that provides insight into the experience of LGBTQ+ young people in a way that we can all identify with and enjoy reading. I recommend this book for all school libraries. Teacher's notes are available.