This Book is Gay
London, Hot Keys, 2014, 269p
James Dawson is incredibly easy to talk to (hence his success as a writer-in-residence with First Story), and this comes across in his non-fiction writing. He is funny, informed and honest, sometimes explicitly so, but such veracity is needed in a book on this subject.
This Book is Gay is not gay, or straight, or bi for that matter, as the blurb will inform you. It is about people, challenging prejudices about sexuality and misconceptions about gender identity. It is broken down into sections about homosexuality, bisexuality and transexuality, with informative notes detailing the specific differences by which he sees people get confused. Dawson repeatedly uses the phrase, "And that's fine", because there really is no such thing as normal.
The book begins by noting that different people will read this guide for different reasons - some will be questioning who they are, others might have identified their sexuality, and some might just be curious about the title. Either way, Dawson's easy manner reminds the reader about the importance of choice and variety - you can choose to come out, you can choose the stereotypes to which you conform, and that we all have the right to chance our mind as time goes by.
Dawson has tried to be as universal as possible with his message, though I imagine there will be some readers who disagree with his experiences and research; extensive surveys and interviews were carried out in the creation of this book, and it is pretty hard to argue with the facts, but there are always some! Regardless of your opinion about sexuality and gender identity, This Book is Gay covers a lot of ground, from gay rights to religion, sex to stereotypes. Any questions you might have are answered right here in these pages.
As a fellow school librarian and blogger, Leanne, recently noted, there is so much to digest in this book that I have found it hard to articulate everything in this review. I suggest you give it a read yourself!