“But then we get life wrong all the time, don’t we? And it’s still life.”
“How Beautiful the Ordinary” is an anthology of LGBTQ stories from 12 authors including David Levithan, William Sleator, Gregory Maguire among others.
“When you’re young and uncertain of your identity, one of the most compelling is the quest to discover yourself reflected in the pages of a book. But what if you search whole libraries of such books in vain for your own face?” Wrote the editor Michael Cart on the introduction page. This is exactly what this book gives us: a glimpse of what it meant to be gay, lesbian, or transgender in the eyes of young adults.
The short story version of “Two Boys Kissing,” Levithan’s “A Word From the Nearly Distant Past” is narrated by gay men of the past as they look over how the distant future looks like for the LGBTQ community. The ghost-like narrators lurking around the characters make it eerie to read, but the impact of their words will hit the readers. “We know that some of you are still scared. We know that some of you are still silent. Just because it’s better now doesn’t mean that it’s good.”
William Sleator’s “Fingernail” tries to tackle what true love means. Narrated by a Thai character, it is a refreshing perspective on how a man learns the lesson of being in love amid cultural and language barriers.
Jennifer Finney Boylan’s “The Missing Person” is an eye-opener and provides a unique perspective on how a person can be a prisoner inside his/her own body. Using the situation of the missing Taiwanese student next door as a metaphor is a stroke of genius.
“I hand over the piece.
Professor Farber glances at it. “Short.”
“Pithy,” I reply. “‘Moon River’ is short. ‘Over the Rainbow’ is short. You can say a lot in a few words.”
“If you’ve grown up enough to know what’s worth saying. Have you grown up that much this summer, Master Rahmani?”
“‘Yesterday’ is short. Very short.”
“I see you have.”
My favorite in this anthology is “The Silk Road Runs Through Tupperneck, N.H.” by Gregory Maguire. It is about an Iranian immigrant’s story, a story of the past and of the present. The passionate summer memories narrated by Maguire were as sharp and vivid. It combines the beauty of music and the power of words.
Sky god Worthy (5 out of 5 stars). “How Beautiful the Ordinary” tackles the concept of sexual identity through the perspective of its various characters. Just as the authors are diverse, so are the book’s stories. In the end, I felt it achieved what it meant to accomplish: to get a glimpse of the LGBTQ community’s lives and hopes. And to make people see that we too are ordinary, beautifully ordinary.
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