The Lambda is the most prestigious prize in LGBT literature, and the winners were announced Monday at a ceremony in New York City.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz took the LGBT Young Adult Fiction Award. (It was published by Simon & Schuster/ Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.) Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, by Kirstin Cronn-Mills, didn’t get the Lambda.
I’m certain Aristotle and Dante is a fantastic book, and I intend to buy it.
Kirstin and I are in a writing group, and I’ve read countless submissions of Beautiful Music. I remember the night when she told us about a new character, some ideas for a plot, and the title. If Kirstin is the book’s mother, I am its aunt. I watched the novel grow into a final draft and find the world through the publisher Flux.
That’s part of the writing life — sharing disappointment with your writing friends. When Kirstin comes home, we’ll tell her that we’re proud of her and that it’s a “win” to earn such a prestigious nomination. We’ll applaud her for tackling a controversial topic with dignity, grit, and humor. It’s all true.
If Gabe, the protagonist in Beautiful Music, helped one young person from the transgender community, then Kirstin is a heroine. That’s more important than being a “winner.” (Ditto for all the nominees.)
Gabe brought readers into the world of a young transman. Kirstin didn’t want Gabe to be a “lesson” character. And he’s not. He’s just Gabe. Gabe stressing out about college, Gabe dealing with his feelings for his best friend, Gabe butting heads with family members, Gabe finding his passion in radio. It’s a story — a great story.
So, congratulations to winner Benjamin Alire Saenz. His book is on my must-read list.
And congratulations to Kirstin and Gabe. Aunt Shelley is proud of both of you.