A couple weeks ago, I went to my favorite indie bookstore in Connecticut, RJ Julia (768 Boston Post Road in Madison) for a book discussion moderated by Sarah Darer Littman about the banning of books with a signing afterwards by author David Levithan. The discussion was enlightening because I heard some rumblings about book banning recently but didn’t realize there were upwards of 2500 titles being challenged and 40% of them due to QUILTBAG content. That blew my mind! Two of the books being challenged are David’s, so he must be doing something right to have the haters all worked up.
I was already a fan of David’s after reading his young-adult books “Boy Meets Boy” and “Two Boys Kissing.” As well as “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” “Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares” and “Every Day” which have movie versions if reading isn’t your thing. His newest book, “Ryan And Avery,” is just as solid and sweet as his previous books. It’s about two gay boys (one trans and one cis) who meet at a queer prom and the ten dates they go on. The dates aren’t laid out in chronological order, they bounce around, but it feels right and true to how teenagers would share their stories of first love.
I read a lot of queer young-adult books because they’re the books I wish were around when I was growing up. I realize the importance of queer kids today being able to see themselves reflected in the books they read, so it’s horrendous to know people are trying to prevent that, in my gay opinion.
Between the book event and “Ryan And Avery” tugging at my heart strings, I wasn’t sure the best way I could support the cause. Then the stars aligned and the answer came in the form of a tweet from Cassandra Peterson. She donated a few signed items to a celebrity online auction for the organization Pride And Less Prejudice, who “promote positive representation by providing LGBTQ-inclusive books to pre-K through 3rd-grade classrooms across the United States and Canada.” I already have signed books from Cassandra but I checked out the other items donated. Although I don’t like children, it sounded like a cause I could get behind…and did somebody say autographed merch?
And that kids, is the story of how David Levithan’s passion for social-justice and Ryan and Avery’s romance lead to my winning bid on this Jane Wagner and Lily Tomlin signed photo that’s titled “Remember When They Fell In Love.”