Tonawanda News

August 27, 2012

BOOK NOOK: Local author brings stories of LGBT homeless youth to forefront

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Although we live in a day and age where same-sex marriage is now a realization for many gay couples and growing public support for the LGBT community in the media promotes an encouraging shift towards change, Buffalo native Lyndsey D’Arcangelo reminds us that coming out hasn’t necessarily gotten easier, especially for young adults. 

In D’Arcangelo’s latest novel, “The Education of Queenie McBride,” the reader follows a recent high school graduate named Queenie entering her freshman year at Boston University around the city, where she runs into a homeless lesbian youth named Pudge. It’s a friendship where street smarts and book smarts collide, as Pudge — kicked out by her parents for coming out three months prior —puts up a wall when the rich and well-off Queenie befriends her and fights to win her trust. 

D’Arcangelo writes from the stance that sexuality is not a choice. Through honest and direct dialogue between the characters, the author invites teen readers into the conversation. She emphasizes the sensitive role that family plays during the process of acceptance. The most difficult love to deal with is conditional love, but Queenie, who is also gay, demonstrates to Pudge that true friendship can endure the most violent of storms. 

According to Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, 40 percent of homeless youth identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual. About 28 percent of gay teens drop out of high school because of bullying. These are statistics that D’Arcangelo weaves into Queenie’s moment of epiphany, where she realizes how pertinent the issue of LGBT homelessness truly is, inspiring teens going through a similar situation or people who know of someone going through a similar situation to take action. 

The novel’s main themes are easy to pick up and D’Arcangelo’s casual language, effortless sarcasm and predictable plot make it a fun but informative read, appropriate for a teen audience. D’Arcangelo also thoughtfully establishes how time and distance can change a romantic relationship, for good and for bad, regardless of sexual orientation. The reader is taught the how to handle such issues in a mature manner.

As the back of D’Arcangelo’s dedication page suggests, “Sometimes the most important education happens outside of the classroom.” What “The Education of Queenie McBride” teaches the reader is that sometimes one must discard conventional ways of thinking and experience a world that tests our being. This allows us to see things differently, find acceptance and have tolerance for others.

Jessica Brant is a

freelance reporter for the Tonawanda News. 

• WHAT: "The Education of Queenie McBride" • BY: Lyndsey D'Arcangelo • GRADE: B