June’s Diverse Book Giveaway

In a previous post, I talked about the Diverse Book Giveaway that I’ve been running over on Tumblr. Every month through 2016 I am giving away a science ficiton or fantasy book I’ve enjoyed reading that showcases diversity in some form, ideally in multiple ways.

On the Edge of Gone coverIn previous months, I’ve given away Rivers of London, Adaptation, Shadows on the Moon, and other great books. June’s book is the fantastic On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis, which I’ve reviewed in an earlier blog post. I have also interviewed the book’s author.

If you have a Tumblr account, you can enter the giveaway simply by reblogging the giveaway post. The winner will be chosen on 1st July.

I’m still looking for suggestions of other books to include in the giveaway series so please leave me a comment telling me about diverse SF&F books you’ve read that you think should be a part of this project.

Representation as a Mirror

There are a number of reasons I care about diversity in fiction. One reason is that having diverse characters leads to more interesting stories because there’s more variety. Another reason is because fiction can act as a window, letting us seeing other countries and cultures, letting us experience the struggles others face, letting us look through the eyes of people who are different from ourselves. If people read books from different perspectives and see people from other cultures or in other situations as diverse and interesting and as human as they are, that’s got to be a good thing.

But for me, the biggest reason I support diverse fiction is that books (and other media) can act as a mirror. People can see themselves reflected in the characters of a story. They can see that people like themselves can be heroes, can get a happy ending, can play an important role. In some cases, they see that someone like themselves exists.

I had a conversation a few days ago with some people at work. Somehow, the subject got onto sex education and one of my co-workers talked about how sex education lessons should include discussions about different sexualities. I said that they should include mentions of asexuality because there are a lot of people who don’t even know that asexuality exists. Naturally, another co-worker asked what it was because she’d never heard of it before. I gave a very short definition and her reaction was, “Oh my god! I think that’s me!”

She was thrilled and excited because suddenly she had a label for things she’d felt (or not felt). This wasn’t the first time I’d had a conversation like this. A month or so ago, I was talking to a woman about sexual attraction and her comment to me was, “I always just assumed I was broken.”

This was a woman in her fifties, who’d spent decades believing she was broken, because she’d never come across the concept of asexuality.

But books can help. People can find themselves between the pages and understand something about themselves that had always been a mystery. I read an autobiography by an autistic woman who was undiagnosed until well into adulthood. The first time she realised she was autistic was because of a book. She and her husband were reading a book with an autistic protagonist and they both recognised some of her thought and behaviour patterns in that character. Because she saw herself reflected in a character, she understood what she was.

This is why representation is important, because books can help us understand ourselves. I think representation is especially important in children’s and young adult fiction, because no one should spend decades believing that they’re broken.

Diverse book giveaway

Over on Tumblr, I’m running a series of giveaways through 2016. Every month, I’m picking a different book that showcases some form of diversity (or preferably multiple forms of diversity) and giving it away to a lucky winner.

So far, I’ve given away:

  • January – Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
  • February – Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
  • March – Adaptation by Malinda Lo
  • April – Planetfall by Emma Newman

May’s giveaway book is The Way Out Is Through by E M Holloway.

Part fantasy adventure, part detective story, The Way Out Is Through follows Puck Schneider as he helps the mysterious Conner Henley figure out what happened to his murdered sister. Puck get caught in a world of werewolves, hunters and magic, and has to deal with the trauma of all he finds.

Diversity showcased: representation of PTSD, gay and lesbian characters, trans character, Hispanic characters.

If you have a Tumblr account, head over to the giveaway post for a chance to win this great book.

I have some great books lined up for future months, but I’m still taking suggestions for diverse books to include in this project.

Review: On the Edge of Gone

On the Edge of Gone coverOn the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis is a brilliant book. The only downside to this book is that you will need to bring your tissues because it’s emotional and heart-breaking and poignantly written.

The story is set during a global catastrophe. A comet is about to crash into the Earth, devastating the world and doing massive damage that will last for years to come. Society has been preparing for the comet, with permanent shelters for some people, and generation ships to take others off-planet, but there aren’t nearly enough resources for everyone. Most of the population will just have to survive as best they can with temporary shelters and then hope they have homes to go back to after the impact. Thanks to a chance meeting, Denise and her mother end up on board a generation ship that hasn’t launched yet, but they won’t be allowed to stay. Denise is determined to find a way to earn a place on the ship, but those in charge look down on her drug-addict mother, and in the meantime her sister is missing. Outside the ship, people are fighting for survival and Denise doesn’t know if her sister is alive or dead.

The emotional impact comes again and again, as Denise deals faces the difficult decisions and challenges of trying to save a few people she cares about when so many others are suffering. Survival for some is going to be at the cost of others, and the author makes you feel every minute of it.

This book also does amazingly well from a diversity standpoint. Denise is a mixed-race, autistic girl and, as the book is written by an autistic author, her portrayal feels genuine and not remotely stereotyped. The book also contains: characters of a range of races and religions; a trans character; other LGBT characters; disabled characters; a character with Downs syndrome; and so on. Some of these are major characters, others are in the background, a few are just mentioned in passing, but it all adds up to a world in the story that feels like it represents the true diversity of the world around us. This adds to the emotional impact of the story because it feels like this disaster really is affecting everyone.

Five stars. Highly recommended.