To hear the more than 50 contributors tell it, one might think that queer adults mostly end up living in ritzy corners of New York City and becoming published authors.
That, perhaps, is the necessary consequence of this project, which compiles lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer writers' letters to their younger selves. Big names in adult, teen or children's literature have contributed, including Michael Cunningham, Armistead Maupin, Marion Dane Bauer, Arthur Levine, Gregory Maguire and Amy Bloom. A number of comics artists—including Michael DiMotta, Jennifer Camper and Jasika Nicole—have penned letters in comic form. Many authors use their short (usually two- to three-page) letters to talk about the future. Some letters read like a memoir in second person; some describe past addictions, suicide attempts and other grim circumstances; many give advice. Comparisons to the It Gets Better video campaign, in which LGBT adults promise queer and questioning teenagers that life improves after high school, are inevitable. Contributors Jacqueline Woodson and Erik Orrantia even use the language of “getting better” outright. Yet the disproportionate achievement of fame, wealth and successful careers in the arts among the authors here seems an unfair promise to make to most readers.
Inspiring but not universal. (Anthology. 14 & up)