Tag Archives: Sara Farizan

New Releases – October 2014

Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews (Simon & Schuster)

“In a plainspoken and sometimes-humorous memoir, transgender teenager Andrews discusses his life so far. Andrews received national recognition when he was profiled on television’s Inside Edition as one half of a transgender teen couple (the other half, Katie Rain Hill, has written her own memoir, Rethinking Normal). In a conversational tone, the author describes events from his childhood and teen years. … Friendly and informative.” — Kirkus

The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

“In this provocative thriller, Bacigalupi (The Drowned Cities) traces the awakening of a smart, compassionate, and privileged girl named Alix Banks to ugly realities of contemporary life, while seeking to open readers’ eyes, as well. Alix’s life is thrown into disarray when an activist group targets her family, its eyes on her father’s powerful public relations business. Moses is a charismatic black teen living off the money from a settlement with a pharmaceutical company after one of its medications killed his parents. Along with four other brilliant teens who have lost family to this sort of legal/medical maleficence, Moses hopes to enlist Alix’s help to release incriminating data from her father’s files, à la Edward Snowden.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Boy Trouble by ReShonda Tate Billingsley (K-Teen)

Book Description: Maya’s best friend Kennedi has flipped head over heels for her new boo, Kendrick. But when Maya learns Kennedi and Kendrick’s relationship is full of violence—and Kennedi is the aggressor—will she get her best friend to see love shouldn’t hurt? Meanwhile, Sheridan has found love too, but her Prince Charming isn’t all that he seems, and Sheridan won’t listen to anything her friends try to tell her. Maya is trying to navigate all of that while dealing with her own family drama as her parents go through a nasty divorce. How is a diva supposed to stay sane when everything around her is falling apart?

Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall (Sky Pony Press)

“Alyx, an intersex teen, leaves California for Milwaukee to live as a girl for the first time. … Tall and a lover of basketball, Alyx becomes quick friends with her school’s varsity team, including pushy and dangerously hot-tempered Patti ”Pepper“ Pitmani. Background information about intersex conditions and Alyx’s own experience of her body are woven easily into the text, informative without being either dry or sensationalistic.” — Kirkus

Night Sky by Suzanne Brockmann and Melanie Brockmann (Sourcebooks Fire)

“Best known for her romantic thrillers, Suzanne Brockmann teams up with her daughter Melanie for a YA adventure set in her Fighting Destiny world. Sixteen-year-old Skylar Reid is shocked to discover that she’s a Greater-Than, born with superhuman powers. … Skylar joins her wheelchair-bound friend Calvin, motorcycle-riding bad girl Dana, and mysterious hottie Milo to rescue a missing child and bring down those who would exploit people like her.” — Publishers Weekly

Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw (Roaring Brook Press)

“In this no-holds-barred autobiography, 21-year-old Burcaw sheds light on what it has been like to grow up with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a deadly disease that has left him confined to a wheelchair and dependent on others. … His honesty, tempered by mordant humor and a defiant acceptance, is refreshing, even as he thumbs his nose at the disease that is slowly stripping him of the basics.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Sorcerer Heir (The Heir Chronicles, Book 5) by Cinda Williams Chima (Disney-Hyperion)

Book Description: The delicate peace between Wizards and the underguilds (Warriors, Seers, Enchanters, and Sorcerers) still holds by the thinnest of threads, but powerful forces inside and outside the guilds threaten to sever it completely.

Emma and Jonah are at the center of it all. Brought together by their shared history, mutual attraction, and a belief in the magic of music, they now stand to be torn apart by new wounds and old betrayals. As they struggle to rebuild their trust in each other, Emma and Jonah must also find a way to clear their names as the prime suspects in a series of vicious murders. It seems more and more likely that the answers they need lie buried in the tragedies of the past. The question is whether they can survive long enough to unearth them.

Old friends and foes return as new threats arise in this stunning and revelatory conclusion to the beloved and bestselling Heir Chronicles series.

Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis by Alexis Coe (Pulp/Zest)

“The year was 1892, and 19-year-old Alice Mitchell was in love with Freda Ward, 17. She determined that if she couldn’t marry Freda, nobody else would, either. … This is a captivating account, and readers will quickly become absorbed in the suspense surrounding Freda’s murder. Additionally, the book provides a foundation for discussion of sociocultural themes, such as how LGBT relationships have historically been viewed by society, gender and femininity, and even journalism.” — School Library Journal, starred review

Earth and Sky by Megan Crewe (Skyscape)

Book Description: Seventeen-year-old Skylar has been haunted for as long as she can remember by fleeting yet powerful sensations that something is horribly wrong. But despite the visions of disaster that torment her, nothing ever happens, and Sky’s beginning to think she’s crazy. Then she meets a mysterious, otherworldly boy named Win and discovers the shocking truth her premonitions have tapped into: that our world no longer belongs to us. For thousands of years, life on Earth has been at the mercy of alien scientists who care nothing for humans and are using us as the unwitting subjects of their time-manipulating experiments. Win belongs to a rebel faction seeking to put a stop to it, and he needs Skylar’s help to save the world and keep the very fabric of reality together. Megan Crewe’s latest tale takes readers on a mind-bending journey through time with a cast of unforgettable characters.

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios (Balzer + Bray)

“Nalia lives in a mansion in the Hollywood Hills, a glittering world of parties and fast cars. She can have anything she wants—except her freedom. Nalia is ”just another jinni on the dark caravan“ of the slave trade, forced to spend her days granting wishes on behalf of her human master, Malek, in order to advance his wealth and power. … The story unfolds at a swift, even pace, and the worldbuilding is superb; the jinn inhabit an intoxicating, richly realized realm of magic, politics, spirituality and history. Readers will wish they had a jinni to grant them the next book in the series.” — Kirkus, starred review

Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina by Michaela DePrince with Elaine DePrince (Knopf)

“A compelling narrative of the journey of an African orphan whose hard work, emotional strength, and supportive adoptive American parents helped her build a life as a professional dancer, 19-year-old Michaela DePrince’s memoir, coauthored by her mother, holds many stories. … There is plenty of ballet detail for dance lovers to revel in, and the authors achieve a believable, distinctive teenage voice with a nice touch of lyrical description.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang (First Second)

“Online gaming and real life collide when a teen discovers the hidden economies and injustices that hide among seemingly innocent pixels … Through Wong’s captivating illustrations and Doctorow’s heady prose, readers are left with a story that’s both wholly satisfying as a work of fiction and series food for thought about the real-life ramifications of playing in an intangible world. Thought-provoking, as always from Doctorow.” — Kirkus

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan (Algonquin)

“With self-deprecating wit and a keen eye for interpersonal dynamics, Iranian-American narrator Leila Azadi details the dramas taking place in the intersecting circles of her elite New England private school and high-achieving Persian community. When a family friend comes out, his parents’ obnoxious bragging turns to silence, causing Leila to fear being disowned for her “lady-loving inclinations.” … Farizan exceeds the high expectations she set with her debut, If You Could Be Mine, in this fresh, humorous, and poignant exploration of friendship and love, a welcome addition to the coming-out/coming-of-age genre.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill (Simon & Schuster)

“Katie knew she was a girl on the inside, even when she was a suicidal kid named Luke growing up in a disjointed family in Oklahoma. Bullied relentlessly at school and unsupported by administrators, other students’ parents, and even her own father, Katie finds an ally in her mother, who stands by her child as she starts dressing like a girl, legally changes her name, and travels to get genital reconstruction surgery the day after turning 18. … Being so open—and openly imperfect—makes Katie relatable on a human level, not just as a spokesperson.” — Publishers Weekly

Love Is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Arthur A. Levine Books)

“Lost memories, a deadly pandemic flu and the children of D.C.’s elite come together in this sophisticated bio-thriller. … Johnson, who astounded with her cyberpunk teen debut, The Summer Prince (2013), immerses readers in the complexities of Bird’s world, especially her fraught relationship with her parents and the intersections of race and class at her elite prep school. The often lyrical third-person, present-tense narration, the compelling romance and the richly developed cast of characters elevate this novel far above more formulaic suspense fare. Utterly absorbing.” — Kirkus, starred review

Martyr by A.R. Kahler (Spencer Hill Press)

Book Description: Three years have passed since magic destroyed the world.

Those who remain struggle to survive the monsters roaming the streets, fighting back with steel and magic–the very weapons that birthed the Howls in the first place.

Tenn is one such Hunter, a boy with the ability to harness the elements through ancient runes. For years, the Hunters have used this magic to keep the monsters at bay, but it’s never been enough to truly win the war. Humans are losing.

When Tenn falls prey to an incubus named Tomás and his terrifying Kin, Tenn learns there’s more to this than a fight for survival. He’s a pawn in a bigger game, one with devastating consequences. If he doesn’t play his part, it could cost him his life, his lover and his world.

The Family by Marissa Kennerson (Full Fathom Five)

Book Description: Just like any average seventeen year old, Twig loves her family. She has a caring mother and a controlling father. Her brothers and sisters are committed to her family’s prosperity…

All one hundred and eighty three of them.

Twig lives in the Family, a collective society located in the rainforest of Costa Rica. The Family members coexist with the values of complete openness and honesty, and a shared fear of contagious infection in the outside world.

So when Adam, their Father, prophet, and savior, announces that Twig will be his new bride, she is overjoyed and honored. But when an injury forces her to leave the grounds, Twig finds that the world outside is not necessarily as toxic as she was made to believe. When she meets Leo, an American boy with a killer smile, she begins to question everything about her life within the Family, and the cult to which she belongs.

But when it comes to your Family, you don’t always get a choice.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu (Putnam)

“A new series—fantasy, this time—from the author of the best-selling Legend dystopia. … In a gorgeously constructed world that somewhat resembles Renaissance Italy but with its own pantheon, geography and fauna, the multiethnic and multisexual Young Elites offer a cinematically perfect ensemble of gorgeous-but-unusual illusionists, animal speakers, fire summoners and wind callers. A must for fans of Kristin Cashore’s Fire (2009) and other totally immersive fantasies.” — Kirkus, starred review

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon (Henry Holt and Co.)

“A racially charged shooting reveals the complicated relationships that surround a popular teen and the neighborhood that nurtured and challenged him. Instead of a gangster after retribution, 16-year-old African-American Tariq Johnson’s killer is a white man claiming to have acted in self-defense. Despite their failure to find a weapon on the black teen, the police release the shooter, rocking the community. … Magoon skillfully tells the story in multiple, sometimes conflicting, voices. This sobering yet satisfying novel leaves readers to ponder the complex questions it raises.” — Kirkus, starred review

Pig Park by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez (Cinco Puntos)

“Residents of a declining neighborhood band together to turn their economy around by building a tourist attraction. Masi spent her life working in her family’s bakery in Pig Park, so named for the lard company that, until outsourcing, provided most of the area’s jobs. The multiethnic Chicago neighborhood agrees to the outlandish scheme of building a ‘Gran Pirámide’ in their park, as a famous community developer suggests. … The story of a community working together is uplifting.” — Kirkus

Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez (Katherine Tegen Books)

“After discovering that her father and boyfriend are killers, 17-year-old Valentina Cruz runs away to Montreal. Penniless, she lives in a rented closet, works as an artist’s model, and practices her stolen mandolin by night in an empty cafe. She thinks the music will sustain her good memories of her boyfriend, Emilio, who taught her to play. … Valentina’s decision making is sometimes opaque, but her strong voice, full of sensory imagery, and her exquisitely drawn relationships with Emilio, Marcel, and her father make this a memorable thriller.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Beau, Lee, the Bomb & Me by Mary McKinley (K-Teen)

“When 16-year-old Rusty sees new boy Beau appear at her school, she’s relieved—he’ll be ”fresh meat“ for the bullies who torment Rusty for being fat. She’s right; they paint ”Die Fag“ on Beau’s locker and beat him up. Desperate, he decides to run away in search of his gay uncle in San Francisco. Rusty goes with him, as does Lee, a girl who’s sex-shamed at school and happens to be sleeping with a teacher. … Pair this love letter to the West Coast and to the victims and survivors of the gay American AIDS crisis with David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing (2013).” — Kirkus

Bottled Up Secret by Brian McNamara (Bold Strokes Books)

Book Description: Brendan Madden is in the midst of his senior year of high school and couldn’t be happier. He has a great group of friends, his pick of colleges, and he has recently come to terms with his sexuality. One night, he meets Mark Galovic, a gorgeous, younger classmate of his. In a matter of minutes, Brendan is hooked. As the friendship between them grows, Brendan reaches his breaking point when he spontaneously confesses his feelings to him. Brendan is shocked and elated to find out that Mark feels the same way about him. The two begin to date, but because Mark is not out, it must remain a secret. As their friends and family become suspicious, openly gay Brendan becomes increasingly frustrated with their discreet relationship, while Mark becomes more and more paranoid that they’re going to be found out.

Maxine Wore Black by Nora Olsen (Bold Strokes Books)

Maxine is the girl of Jayla’s dreams: she’s charming, magnetic, and loves Jayla for her transgender self. There’s only one problem with Maxine—she already has a girlfriend, perfect Becky. Jayla quickly falls under Maxine’s spell, and she’s willing to do anything to win her. But when Becky turns up dead, Jayla is pulled into a tangle of deceit, lies, and murder. Now Jayla is forced to choose between love and the truth. Jayla will need all the strength she has to escape the darkness that threatens to take her very life.

Crazy by Linda Vigen Phillips (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)

“Told in first-person free verse, Crazy is a beautifully written and emotionally impactful novel about growing up around bipolar disorder in a time period when even doctors didn’t truly understand the ramifications of such a disease. Laura’s shame about her family and her guilt for hating her mother for something she cannot control are heartrending. Phillips’s poetry coupled with her personal experiences truly make this a poignant read. It should be in the hands of anyone—teen and adult—who has ever felt powerless at the hands of mental illness.” — School Library Journal

The Gospel Truth by Caroline Pignat (Red Deer Press)

Book Description: Award-winning author Caroline Pignat’s new historical novel recreates the world of a Virginia tobacco plantation in 1858. Through the different points of view of slaves, their masters and a visiting bird-watcher the world of the plantation comes to live in this verse novel. Phoebe belongs to Master Duncan and works in the plantation kitchen. She sees how the other slaves are treated — the beatings and whippings, the disappearances. She hasn’t seen her mother since Master Duncan sold her ten years ago. But Pheobe is trying to learn words and how to read and when she is asked to show the master’s Canadian visitor, Doctor Bergman, where he can find warblers and chickadees she starts to see things differently. And Doctor Bergman has more in mind that just drawing the local birds. Pheobe’s friend Shad works on the plantation as well — but mostly he worries about his brother Will. His brother is the last member of his family and he is determined to escape from the master and the tobacco plantation. He has already been caught and beaten more than once. And the stories about life in Canada can’t be true, can they? How does a man survive without the master there taking care of everything?

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (Cinco Puntos)

“Struggles with body image, teen pregnancy, drug addiction, rape, coming out, first love and death are all experiences that touch Gabi’s life in some way during her senior year, and she processes her raw and honest feelings in her journal as these events unfold. … Readers won’t soon forget Gabi, a young woman coming into her own in the face of intense pressure from her family, culture and society to fit someone else’s idea of what it means to be a ”good“ girl. A fresh, authentic and honest exploration of contemporary Latina identity.” — Kirkus, starred review

The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond (Scholastic)

“That 20th-century speculative-fiction staple, the what-if-Hitler-won-the-war alternate history, meets 21st-century special-girl dystopia. It’s been almost a century since the Axis powers divided a conquered North America among them: Japan in the west, Germany in the east, and Italy in the Dakotas. In the Nazi-controlled Shenandoah Valley, 16-year-old half-Japanese Zara is an Untermensch, a half-breed fit only for scut work. Though she works all hours as both a janitor and a farm girl, Zara desperately wants Uncle Red to allow her to join the Revolutionary Alliance, the anti-Nazi underground. … Overall, a satisfying and appropriately hectic action adventure.” — Kirkus

Schizo: A novel by Nic Sheff (Philomel)

“Sheff’s novel reveals the painful and confusing world of teenage schizophrenia through the experience of Miles, a junior at a small San Francisco private school. … Readers fascinated by the dark side of the human mind in realistic fiction will enjoy this deft portrayal of a brain and a life spiraling out of control. Miles is an endearing character whose difficult journey will generate compassion and hope.” — School Library Journal

UnDivided by Neal Shusterman (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

“In the final book of the ”Unwind Dystology,“ everything comes full circle. Shusterman expertly reminds readers about the characters and their current situations without distracting from the current plot. Teens gain information on all of the key players, and each well-crafted narrative moves at a refreshing pace. … Characters old and new are integrated into the story line, providing insight and closure. Shusterman generates a lot of thought-provoking topics for discussion. The story is intriguing: a wonderful end to a unique and noteworthy series.” — School Library Journal

Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters (Ooligan Press)

Book Description: Shy, intellectual, and living in rural Oregon, Triinu Hoffman just doesn’t fit in. She does her best to hide behind her dyed hair and black wardrobe, but it’s hard to ignore the bullying of Pip Weston and Principal Pinn. It’s even harder to ignore the allure of other girls. As Triinu tumbles headlong into first love and teenage independence, she realizes that the differences that make her a target are also the differences that can set her free. With everyone in town taking sides in the battle for equal rights in Oregon, Triinu must stand up for herself, learn what it is to love and have her heart broken, and become her own woman.

Shadowboxer by Tricia Sullivan (Ravenstone)

“In this adrenaline-fueled supernatural adventure, a young woman channels her anger into fighting, only to risk losing everything due to her lack of control. Jade Barrera, 17, is a rising star in the mixed martial arts (MMA) circuit, but after she snaps and hurts the wrong person, she’s sent to regain her focus by training in Thailand, where she’s exposed to new ways of thinking and living. … SF author Sullivan (Lightborn) spins a kinetic, violent, and magical tale that makes excellent use of Jade’s hard-edged voice. Sullivan brings to life the beauty of Thailand and the sweat and blood of the gym, infusing them with magic and danger.” — Publishers Weekly

Stray by Elissa Sussman (Greenwillow)

“Fairy-tale tropes are turned on their heads in this exploration of class and ideology. Aislynn is a princess who has always intended to follow the Path. However, her wicked heart is often at odds with her desperation to obey the rules that state she must resist the curse of her innate magic. … The creative use of the role of fairy godmother is fascinating, as is the fantasy world.” — Kirkus

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (Harlequin Teen)

“Sarah Dunbar, a black high school senior in the graduating class of 1959, is nervous about entering the formerly all-white Jefferson High School with nine of her black classmates. … The big issues of school desegregation in the 1950s, interracial dating, and same-sex couples have the potential to be too much for one novel, but the author handles all with aplomb. What makes it even better is that both Linda’s and Sarah’s points of view are revealed as the novel unfolds, giving meaning to their indoctrinated views. Educators looking for materials to support the civil rights movement will find a gem in this novel, and librarians seeking titles for their LGBT displays should have this novel on hand.” — VOYA

Beauty of the Broken by Tawni Waters (Simon Pulse)

“Mara Stonebrook knows she does not belong; she is ”different.“ Her small town is conservative and strictly religious. … Mara has managed to escape her father’s abuse for 15 years, but she knows that if anyone finds out her deepest secret, that she is a lesbian, she will be punished as an abomination in the eyes of their conservative church. If her father finds out, she will be lucky to live. Keeping her secret is easy until Xylia comes to town. … Emotionally wrenching, this novel will resonate with students struggling with their own sexual orientation.” — School Library Journal

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (Dutton)

“When 10th grader Jam Gallahue meets British exchange student Reeve Maxfield, she fees like she finally understands love, and when she loses him, she can’t get over it. Her grief eventually lands her at the Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school for “emotionally fragile, highly intelligent” teenagers. … Making her YA debut, acclaimed author Wolitzer writes crisply and sometimes humorously about sadness, guilt, and anger.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Interview with Sara Farizan

The author of If You Could Be Mine talks about her new lesbian YA novel, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, a light-hearted romantic comedy about an Iranian American teen girl.

By Malinda Lo


Sara Farizan made a huge splash in the YA world last year with her debut novel, If You Could Be Mine (Algonquin Young Readers), about an Iranian teen girl who contemplates changing her sex in order to marry her female best friend. The novel won a slew of awards, including the Lambda Literary Award, the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, and the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction.

Sara is back this fall with a new YA novel, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, a more light-hearted look at first love about an Iranian American teen named Leila and the girl(s) she crushes on at her Boston-area prep school. I invited Sara to answer a few questions about her new novel for Diversity in YA.

Malinda: How would you describe Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel to a potential reader?

Sara: It is a comic coming-of-age story with a funny and insecure protagonist who happens to be gay. It’s part prep-school drama and part figuring out who you are in your universe of family, school, social groups etc. There is angst, make out sessions, embarrassing farts, and emotional turmoil. It’s about liking the wrong person and learning to like yourself. A fast read, nobody dies, and it ends up being an uplifting story.

Malinda: In my experience, novels rarely come from one isolated moment of inspiration but rather a collection of ideas, some conscious and some subconscious, and sometimes I don’t fully understand those subconscious inspirations until years later. What were some of your inspirations for Tell Me Again?

Sara: I started writing Tell Me Again when I was 23 and depressingly unemployed in Los Angeles. I had been writing these spec scripts that I hoped would get me work, which involved writing teen soaps that had mostly straight, WASP characters. And I started writing Tell Me Again as my version of a teen soap. Over the years it ended up becoming very much part of what my high school life was like and also VERY, VERY different from what my high school life was like. I also wanted to write a story about liking the wrong person. Someone who you think the world of and then begin to question what it is you really do  like about that person.

Sara Farizan
Sara Farizan

Malinda: Do you think you’d ever like to return to screenwriting? And what made you move from screenwriting to novel writing? They’re such different formats.

Sara: I would love to return to screenwriting only I don’t have the networking skills. I’m very bad at selling myself or my ideas. I was also always better at dialogue than relaying great visuals. But I miss it a lot.

Malinda: How did the experience of writing this novel differ from that of writing If You Could Be Mine?

Sara: If You Could Be Mine required a lot more research and has a more serious tone because of the subject matter. Sahar is also a lot different from me and is more adult in If You Could Be Mine. Leila, from Tell Me Again, is more like me, though I was more social and outgoing in school and definitely did not have a love interest or get into all the hijinks she does. It was easier to write Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel than it was If You Could Be Mine. I was also able to just do humor in Tell Me Again, whereas injecting more humor in If You Could Be Mine didn’t feel right.

Malinda: Tell Me Again was definitely funny, and it reminded me that I rarely read novels about lesbians that are funny! Did you set out to write a funny book? How do you see humor fitting in to your writing?

Sara: Well we lesbians have a long tradition of having funny ladies in our camp, no? I use humor a lot in life in almost every situation. My parents are both very funny people in their own ways and I also grew up figuring out how to make friends through laughter. Life’s so hard as it is, you need to laugh every so often. People remember funny and they remember if you made them feel happy.

Malinda: Tell me, how should a crush feel?

Sara: Oh God I don’t even know anymore. In high school, it was exciting and scary. Now I just watch Cheers on Netflix.

Malinda: Sam or Diane?

Sara: I love Sam and Diane. I can’t choose! But I am pretty sure I relate most to Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) when he tries to speak to women he’s attracted to. We both make unintelligible noises and strike out. I’d also love for everyone to say “Sara!” whenever I walked in the room, like with Norm.

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel is now available.

Sara Farizan is the author of If You Could Be Mine. The daughter of Iranian immigrants, Farizan currently lives in San Francisco, but Boston will always be her home. She is an MFA graduate of Lesley University and holds a BA in film and media studies from American University. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel is her second novel.

10 LGBTQ Young Adult Authors to Know

In honor of LGBT Pride Month, here are 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer authors of young adult fiction to know:

T Cooper

  • Co-author with Allison Glock-Cooper of Changers Book 1: Drew, and several books for adults
  • t-cooper.com

Sara Farizan

  • Author of the Lambda Award-winning If You Could Be Mine and the forthcoming Tell Me How a Crush Should Feel
  • @SaraFarizan

Nina LaCour

David Levithan

  • Author of the Lambda Award-winning Two Boys Kissing, Boy Meets Boy, and co-author with John Green of Will Grayson, Will Grayson; and more
  • davidlevithan.com

Malinda Lo

Alex London

Patrick Ness

Julie Anne Peters

  • Author of Lies My Girlfriend Told Me, the National Book Award finalist Luna, Keeping You a Secret, and more
  • julieannepeters.com

Benjamin Alire Sáenz

  • Author of the Printz Honor book Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Last Night I Sang to the Monster, and several books for adults
  • @BenjaminAlireSa

Tess Sharpe

5 Things Sara Farizan Learned by Writing IF YOU COULD BE MINE

By Sara Farizan

1. Write the Story You Want to Tell


If you had told me around four years ago that a young adult novel about Iranian lesbians who explore the idea of gender reassignment surgery to stay together would have been published, I would have laughed in your face and said “I have a manuscript just like that!” The goal for most writers is to be published, but I wrote If You Could Be Mine as my graduate school thesis and as a project of passion. I didn’t really think about who would want to read it or if it was marketable or if it was worthy of representation, but I wrote it because as a teenager I wanted books that spoke to both my cultural identity and my identity as a lesbian. Is that a niche market? Sure! But I know there were a lot of kids like me who perhaps weren’t gay or Iranian but are very different from the characters they continue to read about over and over again.

I know how lucky I am because I have many friends who are trying to get published and I know I have won the lottery. While I am very, very lucky that this book was picked (thank you Algonquin Young Readers and Elise Howard), I have always written because it makes me feel better. Reading and writing have always made me feel less alone and less afraid. So I encourage all of you writers out there to tell the story you have been itching to tell, not just because you never know who may want to publish it, but because everyone has a story inside of them that will make you feel better once you let it out.

2. I Worry All the Time

I worry about the fact that I have set a story in a country that I don’t live in but have strong ties to and question whether I have the right to set a story there. I worry that I am cisgendered and have written trans characters and don’t know if it is my place to do so. I worry that I am expected to have all the answers to everyone’s questions about Iran, which I don’t because it is a country of 70 million people and the story I have written is a novel and not a research paper. I worry someone won’t like what I have to say at an author visit and may come with pitchforks or throw rotten fruit at my head. I worry that my parents may get an unfriendly call or I will learn that I can’t visit Iran again. I worry that my writing isn’t very good. I worry about the next project and will it live up to this one. I worry about bringing attention to myself and other Iranian-Americans because I have always tried to be a good representative but what if this book just brings negative attention to people like me.

I quell those worries with a good swim, a therapy session, NBA basketball games on TV and try to just focus on the task at hand and not give in to the swirling and constant anxieties in my head. I wrote this work coming from a place of help and not hurt and hopefully if it gets to the right readers, that’s all I can hope for.

3. I Learned A Lot About Myself

While the story and characters are fictional, I needed my setting and the rules of that setting to be authentic. So I went to Iran for a summer and had reservations about doing so as I hadn’t been there in quite some time.

Tehran at dusk (Photo courtesy of the author)

I got to see more of where my parents grew up and met people who knew them before they were my parents. I was speaking a language that I rarely get to practice in my day to day life in the States and even in my slip-ups and forgetting a word here and there I was amazed at how much I could converse with people and how much I understood. I felt at home and very foreign at the same exact time. My trip also re-affirmed the fact that no matter where you are in the world, if you respect that culture and the people living there, people will show you respect in return. I thought about how fortunate I am to come from such a rich culture, but am happy to live in a Western society. I learned that I will probably never set another book in Iran because of all the complications that come with doing that.

4. Visibility Is So Important

(Photo: The author and her book!)

When I learned If You Could Be Mine was going to be published, I considered having a pen name and being anonymous. The issues tackled in the book are not easy, especially given the community I am coming from. My greatest concern was my family because I didn’t want any harm to come to anyone. My parents and I discussed it at great length and we decided that if I can be out and proud and be able to speak to people about these issues then that gives people the opportunity for readers to ask questions, to learn more, and I have a better chance at changing people’s hearts and minds.

My first event was on the book’s birthday of August 20th and my parents invited all of their Persian friends to the store, which was very daunting to say the least because it ended up being a coming out party as well. While I was very nervous about their reaction, I was so blown away by how gracious and kind the people in attendance were.

My grandmother has a friend who I have known since I was a baby and in recent years she would always ask me if I have a boyfriend or plan on getting married anytime soon. Well after the bookstore event she called my mother, this very conservative, traditional Iranian woman and said ‘Sara has made me change the way I think about gay people.’ And if nothing else, I think putting myself out there will hopefully make it a little easier for teenagers, no matter what their background, to be their authentic selves.

5. People Are Wonderful

I am always very humbled and blown away by the kindness of readers and people I meet on the road. I think it’s very easy to be mean and much more difficult to be kind and I am always very moved by people I have met on this journey. If people come out to see me or hear me read, I want to spend time with them, I want to thank them for coming, I want to learn about them. And maybe I will be a one-hit wonder or the Vanilla Ice of LGBT YA literature, but this experience and meeting the people I have has been amazing.

If You Could Be Mine is now available. Follow Sara Farizan on Twitter.

New Releases – August 2013

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (Algonquin)

“Accomplished and compassionate … A groundbreaking, powerful depiction of gay and transsexual life in Iran … An intimate look at life in modern-day Iran and its surprising Westernization, even though much of this culture is clandestine.” — Booklist, starred review

Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott (Henry Holt)

“A poignant and powerful novel of friendship and courage.” — School Library Journal

Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (Simon & Schuster)

Lake Thirteen by Greg Herren (Bold Strokes Books)

Book description: Every summer three families take a trip together—this year it’s to a remote resort in the mountains of upstate New York. Scotty, a teenager who’s just come out, is nervous about how his friends will react to him. A late night visit to an old nearby cemetery seems like a great idea to the bored teens, but the old cemetery holds dark secrets hidden for almost a century—secrets that might have been better left undisturbed.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (Random House Children’s Books)

“Levithan makes it clear that loving and living are as imperfect as those who practice them, but no less precious for their flaws. A landmark achievement from a writer and editor who has helped create, in literature, a haven for queer youth.” — Publishers Weekly

Enrique’s Journey: The True Story of a Boy Determined to Reunite With His Mother by Sonia Nazario (Random House Children’s Books)

“A heart-wrenching account … Provides a human face, both beautiful and scarred, for the undocumented–a must read.” — Kirkus, starred review

Sunday You Learn How to Box by Bil Wright (Simon & Schuster; reissue)

“This deeply felt coming-of-age novel reads like the best of memoirs. … Wright has a pitch-perfect ear for dialogue and a genuine gift for capturing the intricacies and indeterminacies of family and community life. Both ensure that Louis Bowman will live with teen readers long after they close the book.” — School Library Journal