Exploring LGBT Themes in YA Lit & Everyday Library Life

Review: Crewel

Release Date: 16 October 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Reading/Interest Level: Grades 7 & up

Adelice’s parents spent 16 years training her–to fail.  Where other parents would have encouraged her natural talent, Adelice’s parents have taught her clumsiness and purposeful ignorance so that she can avoid the ever-watchful eye of the Guild.  But one slip-up during testing and they find her anyway.  Because her family runs, she’s marked as a traitor, but her raw talent and natural ability make it impossible for the Guild to get rid of her.  As she discovers the layers of control and power that the Guild and the Coventries have over Arras, Adelice unearths stirrings of discontent and begins to discover that the reality of her world is much different than what she was taught.  In a stunning blend of science fiction and fantasy, Gennifer Alblin weaves a fascinating world where power and control are in the hands of a few and the fragile tapestry of the world is susceptible and malleable.  This fast-paced story will have high appeal for fans of dystopian novels.  The world-building is paced perfectly so that the world is revealed in just the right amounts at the right times, and the story is woven with immense creativity that is sure to ensnare many readers.

Crewel was not a book that I started reading with this particular project in mind, so I was very pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon LGBT themes in this book.  Crewel enters the YA genre as a new entry that incorporates LGBTQ themes in a “non-issue” sort of way.  Included in the narrative of the book is a secret lesbian relationship and combined with that are the dystopian rulers’ views on why this type of deviant behavior is “bad.” I loved the main character’s reaction to discovering the relationship and the actions that follow.  This, I hope, is part of the future of YA literature that incorporates more diversity (including diversity of sexuality!) into stories without becoming a book centered on that specific topic (i.e. not an “issue” book).

*This copy of Crewel was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.com for honest consideration*

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Comments on: "Review: Crewel" (1)

  1. I also loved that the book featured a queer character without making it the central point of the book, and do hope this continues, but I still found this plot point problematic. I wasn’t thrilled with the way gender issues were portrayed overall. Rather than challenging the way women were oppressed or that lesbian relationships were forbidden, it normalized these as part of society. There’s a great discussion of this here: http://crunchingsandmunchings.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/some-thoughts-about-gender-in-ya-dystopias/#comments
    I still thought it was an okay book, but I don’t think that the mere inclusion of a character that identifies as queer is enough and that the context should also be evaluated. For example, The House of Night series has a secondary gay character, but he’s a complete stereotype and has no agency. That’s not exactly progressive.

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