Thursday, March 6, 2014


Pink, written by Lili Wilkenson, was a Stonewall Award winner in 2012.  "The Stonewall Book Award is the first and most enduring award for GLBT books is the Stonewall Book Awards, sponsored by the American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table. Since Isabel Miller's Patience and Sarah received the first award in 1971, many other books have been honored for exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience." ( It was published by Harper Teen in 2011.

Pink's main character, Ava, is raised by progressive parents, who she is allowed to call by their first names, Pam and David. She goes to public school, wears dark clothes all of the time, preaches about feminism and hangs out with her girlfriend, Chloe, at uber-chick coffee shops. The problem is, Ava doesn't know if she wants to be that person anymore.  She convinces her parents to allow her to go to a private school, where she changes her clothes (wears a lot more pink!), changes her hair (black dye is gone!) and changes her personality. She is no longer sure if she is a lesbian and decides that she wants to try to date boys. On her first day, Ava meets Alexis, who is part of the popular crowd.  They become friends and Alexis convinces Ava to try out for the school musical.  Unfortunately, Ava was not a good enough singer, so she joins the stage crew, who are referred to as "the freaks", instead. She is not stuck between three worlds -- her world with Chloe, her world with the popular crowd, and her world with "the freaks", who she is becoming friends with. 

Ava is an incredibly insecure teenage girl.  She is not happy with the person that she is and constantly second guesses whether the people around her will want to stay friends with her.

 "I didn't want to tell him the truth. It had been my first ever wolf whistle, and I'd kind of enjoyed it. Someone saw me as pretty, girly, pink.  Maybe even sexy. If a workman thought I was hot, maybe Ethan would, too. I felt myself blushing.  What kind of feminist was I? Chloe would be so ashamed of me."   (page 75)

"'How does Chloe feel about look?' asked David. 'She's fine with it.' I replied. 
In the sense that Chloe had no idea.  I always changed out of my Billy Hughes clothes by the time she came over.  not that she'd come over much in the past two weeks. I'd been pleading homework, but really I was terrified she'd go through my wardrobe and discover my secret." (page 115)

These are just two examples of the many instances throughout the book that she talks about not being able to be herself because someone else would not approve.  She hasn't told the stage crew friends or the popular crowd that she is a lesbian, and she hasn't told Chloe or her parents about her new clothing style, her desire to go the University or the fact that she might be untested in boys.  She is doing everything that she can to keep her three worlds apart.

Ava is successful until opening night of the musical.  Chloe decides to come unannounced, and ends up telling everyone at Billy Hughes that she is dating Ava.  Chloe also becomes privy to the Billy Hughes side of Ava when she hears that Ava has been dating and kissing a boy at the school.  At the end of the night, all three of her worlds have crashed down and everyone is mad at her.

Throughout the rest of the book, Ava is trying to reconcile with those she hurt.  She realizes, through a lot of self-reflection, that she cannot be with Chloe if Chloe can't accept her for who she is -- pink wardrobe and all.   She realizes that many of her other friends also have secrets about who they are, and as she helps them reveal their secrets, she is able to come to terms with her own.  At the end of the book, Ava still doesn't know for sure who she is, but she is ready to start figuring it out instead of trying to be who everyone else wants her to be. 

This book was described as "Fun, razor sharp and moving" by John Green and "Laugh out loud funny, endearing and heartbreaking" by VOYA.  I don't really agree with their review.  I found it very straight forward, and a little sad.  It saddened me that Ava felt as though she couldn't be who she was, and I found very few parts of the book to be funny.  When I think of something being heartbreaking, I think of some type of tragedy happening, and that definitely did not happen within Pink.

Although this won a Stonewall Book Award because it touched on gay and lesbian issues, I feel as though this is a book any teen could relate to.  Many teens (and adults) have trouble figuring out who they are and where they are going to fit in, so I don't really feel as though this is a gay and lesbian issue. I would hope that anyone who read it would be able to get the message of the book, which is to be yourself.

If Pink sounds interesting to you, you can find a copy of it here.

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