McQuinston and Quindlen: The Characterization of Lesbian Relationships in Young Adult Novels in the South

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Raines, Brianna
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The project aims to explore aspects of sapphic young adult novels set in the southern United States, reflecting real LGBTQ+ experiences in the region. In my thesis, I analyze two novels that delve into crucial themes for queer youth in the southern U.S.: religious trauma, peer and adult relationships, and internalized homophobia. By examining how these elements are portrayed in the chosen novels, I demonstrate their reflection of actual LGBTQ+ experiences in the southern U.S. This representation is vital to combat the isolation felt by queer youth in the region and to cultivate empathy among cisgender heterosexual youth. I focus on I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston and Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen due to their authors' personal ties to the stories and their own upbringing in the southern U.S. This analysis underscores the importance of including minority voices, like those of the LGBTQ+ community, in public-school library collections, where they are often underrepresented.