A (not so) quick word on Ramona Blue...

So for anyone who doesn’t know, Julie Murphy has a new book coming out in 2017 called Ramona Blue.  

Here is the blurb:

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever. Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. One of only two out lesbians in her small town and standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the responsible adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, her responsibilities weigh more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool.

As Ramona falls more in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift as well, and she must decide if knowing who she is is more important than figuring out who she might become.

I can feel it coming in the air tonight oh lord

I understand the concern.  If this book turns out to be ‘I was a lesbian and then the right guy turned me straight’ then I will rage and throw things.  I get that this is a trope that is hurtful to gay and lesbian people and lobbied at them all the time.  I will cut Julie Murphy from my shelves and never stop railing against her.  I’m experienced at holding a grudge against ya authors that write crappy portrayals of queer teens.  Ask me how I feel about The Bermudez Triangle!

However

There are lot of bisexual people out there who first identified as lesbian or gay before figuring themselves out as bi (especially at a young age).  We live in a DEEPLY monosexist society that pressures people to choose gay or straight, that labels anything queer as 100% gay, bombards teen girls with biphobia, and loathes living in the middle ground.  Navigating that can be a bitch.  Well meaning gay straight, and lesbian people who have never had to navigate that often don’t understand how tough it can be.

A story about a girl who thinks she is a lesbian and who realizes she is bisexual would be a glorious godsend.  I’ve never seen that in YA before and rarely in adult fiction, especially how common it is when you talk to actual bisexuals about their lives.  We deserve to have our coming out stories told as much as any other group.  

Mirrors and windows people.  We all deserve to see ourselves reflected in fiction and we all need the ability to look into others lives.  I hope this book will be a mirror and window and not a homophobic dumpster fire.  

Also, Julie Murphy is not an out bisexual author.  I don’t now how she identifies.

That said, if you search bisexual on her tumblr, you find some stuff that strongly implies that she is possibly bi or some kind of non-monosexual of some stripe.  I’ll wait for her to make that announcement or not, but considering how FEW bisexuals are out, I’m choosing to live in hope that Julie Murphy has the skill and sensitivity to handle this story no matter how she identifies.

I’ll choose to hope for that kind of coming out bi story because that’s what my bi community desperately needs.  I also respect other people’s skepticism….. as long as it isn’t veering into biphobia.  If you are on tumblr/twitter claiming that a lesbian figuring out she’s actually bi is somehow homophobic or bad representation or unnecessary then you need to check your biphobia at the door because you are invalidating the life experiences of a lot of real actual people.  Sexual orientation is complicated and the process of figuring it out doesn’t always fit a model minority ideal.  Stop being a dick.  

And until the book comes out in May, we wait.  

- Sarah 

THE FAT GIRL GETS THE GUY AND WISH FULFILLMENT

I am so lucky to get reader email. I say lucky, because it’s sort of incredible that anyone would even take the time to contact me when there is homework to do and children to feed and presidential candidates to make fun of.

That being said, reader email can be all over the place. It ranges from OMG-I-LOVE-YOU-THANK-YOU to DIE-BITCH-DIE. The best conversations usually happen somewhere in between. And yet you might be surprised to know that the reader email that breaks my heart the most has nothing to do with my book.

Since DUMPLIN’ released on September 15th, I have received so many versions of this email so many times that I’ve decided to publicly respond. The email usually goes a little something like this:

Julie,

I really loved your book so much, but I just don’t feel like it’s believable. The hot guy doesn’t go for the fat girl in real life. And two guys like Willowdean? I wish it could be true, but I just don’t buy it. The rest of the book was great. Thank you!

- Lovely Reader

In the words of Willowdean herself: SIGH. 

I understand. I get it. I do.

This post (though it may seem like it) is not about my book. I am human. I wrote a book. It has imperfections as do I. The fat girl getting the/a guy is not an imperfection. It is not unbelievable. In this way, I can tell you that the book I wrote is not broken. The world around us is. We have been taught that we are not worthy. We are not deserving. It’s a lie.

No matter how badly we want to love ourselves and our bodies, society has trained us to have this knee jerk reaction/pit of your stomach feeling that says HA! NO WAY WOULD THAT HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE!

So every time I get this email, I want to give the person on the other end a suffocatingly tight hug and whisper in their ear, “The fat girl gets the guy. Or the girl. Or the person. Or the thing they want. YOU get the guy/girl/person/thing.” 

This isn’t about hot boys. This is about wanting, demanding, and having things we (FAT PEOPLE!) are not “allowed” to have. But I will say this: when you see a fat person and a thin or traditionally attractive person together, it isn’t some accidental universal slip. It isn’t always a fetish or a case of aiming low. (Though sometimes it is and that’s another post for another day.) In most cases, it is two people who have come together as a unit because they are wholly attracted to one another. Inside and out.

Society is broken. But you don’t have to be and choosing not to be is the first step to fixing the world we live in. 

YOU get the guy. You get the girl. You get the person. You get the thing–WHATEVER it might be. Believe it, because this isn’t wish fulfillment. It’s fucking true.

2

It’s that time again, kids! Back to school and back to Reblog Book Club!

Beginning on September 15th, we’re reading Dumplin’ by the delightful Julie Murphy! You may have already heard great early buzz around Tumblr, but just in case, here’s what it’s about:

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.  

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

This book is full of humor and heart, but also nuance and difficult questions about friendship, family, and growing up. The characters are unforgettable and we can’t wait to hear what you have to say about them. More details and a reading schedule will be up soon!

I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life. I’ve thought too much about what people will say or what they’re gonna think. And sometimes it’s over silly things like going to the grocery store or going to the post office. But there have been times when I really stopped myself from doing something special. All because I was scared someone might look at me and decide I wasn’t good enough. But you don’t have to bother with that nonsense. I wasted all that time so you don’t have to.
—  Julie Murphy, Dumplin’