I got my special edition Brooklyn Nets Jason Collins t-shirt yesterday!
Last Thursday some amazing books landed on the finalists list in the LGBT Children’s/Young Adult category for the 26th Annual Lambda Literary Awards.
I wanted to take a moment to give shootouts to these books. Of the ten finalists, I’ve read three and have a fourth waiting for me on my Kindle.
Here are the three I’ve read. The links go to my original review on this blog (while the rest of the books link to Amazon so you can learn more there):
- Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg. I am a huge fan of Bill’s and glad to see him as a finalists. This is one of the very best books I read last year.
- Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler. I’ve never read a YA biography before. This was funny, poignant and inspirational.
- Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. David continues to push the way YA stories are told. This POV in this book was amazing and contributed so much to the strength of the story.
The book that’s waiting for me to read is Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (I’ve also got its sequel Five, Six, Seven, Nate!). These books are certainly made for my sensibilities because Nate is a wannabe Broadway star who escapes his small town to come to New York and audition for E.T.: The Musical.
Here are the rest of the finalists in the category:
- Boy In Box by Christopher R. Michael. “Luther McRae, an introverted family product of a busy mother, an overworked father and an autistic sister keeps the secrets of his preteen angst written down on scraps of paper and locked away in a box. That is, until a new girl arrives in town like a whirlwind to break down his walls and invade his guarded, emotional turf,” reads part of they book’s blurb. I’m fascinated by this, so it’s on my to-read list now.
- Girls I’ve Run Away With by Rhiannon Argo. I’m intrigued by one of the reviews this book got: ”Rhiannon Argo captures the tough reality of queer teens with such playful sweetness you almost forget to worry about them as they take off on a string of outlandish, take-no-prisoners attempts to save themselves from a world of cruddy grown-ups hell-bent on killing beauty and love.” This is also on my to-read list.
- If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan. This book sounds intense and amazing. The book centers on two young girls in love in Iran. Check out this part of the blurb: “Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants in the body she wants to be loved in without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?” Yes, also on the to-read list, and fairly highly so.
- Secret City by Julia Watts. Another bit of challenging subject matter with a sixteen-year-old girl who develops a relationship with a twenty-three-year-old wife and mother in 1944 rural Kentucky.
- The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis- Author, Rebecca Short-Editor. A girl with two dads ends up on a search for her birthmother in what sounds like a book with some cools turns since there is a psychic and a vintage cookbook with some handwritten notes in the margins.
- The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson. The first line of the description had this getting add to my to-read list: “A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.”
- What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth. This is decidedly the “children’s” book in the category as it’s an illustrated tale of exactly what the title says.
Congratulations to all the finalists! The awards will be handed out June 2. You can see the full list of categories and nominees on the Lambda Literary website.
Composer Jason Robert Brown was the first thing that attracted me to the stage musical of The Bridges of Madison County. Brown’s responsible for The Last Five Years, one of my favorite scores ever; Parade, which has some incredible music; and “Stars and Moon,” a favorite song from his Songs for a New World.
His music is so good, I’m game to see almost anything he does.
Add to it the wondrous voice of Kelli O’Hara and you know the music is going to be sung perfectly. What I didn’t know was how well O’Hara and Steven Pasquale would blend together in this show. We’d seen O’Hara and Pasquale last year in Far From Heaven, where they played an estranged husband and wife. Here the passion between them is abundant and it makes for some soaring musical numbers. Of particular note is the Act I finale of “Falling Into You” and Act II’s “Before and After You / One Second & a Million Miles.” Pasquale also shines on his solo “It All Fades Away” and Michael X. Martin (who plays a neighbor) and Hunter Foster (Francesca’s husband) get a touching number with “When I’m Gone.”
I’ve never seen the Bridges movie. I have, however, read the book, though it was a long time ago, around the time the film came out and I don’t remember much. I know from the notes in the Playbill that Francesca and Robert were made younger for this version, and that change works here, seeming to put more at stake because of Francesca’s age along with the age of her kids, 16 and 14. There are advantages to starting over, but also the risk of hurting her family.
Beyond the gorgeous music and the performances of O’Hara and Pasquale, the lighting design of the show is beautiful. As you can imagine, in a story that starts with photography and some discussion of lighting, you would want the lighting to capture that. The photo below gives just a hint at the atmosphere Donald Holder achieved with his lighting design (he’s won Tonys already for The Lion King and the recent South Pacific revival and been nominated several more times).
There were a couple of distractions in the show. First, the scenery seemed always on the move. Sometimes it’d be in place for only a minute or two before it was time to change it up again. Having the supporting actors move it, made sense because it conveys the sense of being in a small town and always being watched. However, it made the stage very busy at times. Also, there were several flashbacks in Act I and that pulled away from the budding romance between Robert and Francesca.
Those issues though, don’t diminish how beautiful this show is overall. O’Hara and Pasquale signing Brown’s score is more than worth the price of admission.
Next week we’re off to the theatre again, this time for Terrence McNally’s new play, Mothers and Sons, starring Tyne Daly.
I definitely love me some Miss Coco and this video of her experiencing Grand Theft Auto is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a very long time.