I had the chance earlier this year to chair a panel on LGBTQ with some incredible authors for the North Texas Teen Book Festival. After brief introductions, we threw the floor open to questions. The authors and I stood (we gave up our chairs because the room was packed and we could offer 7 more seats if we stood; as it was, there were so many kids who wanted to come to the session and could not due to space restrictions) listening to this wonderful collection of teens talk about coming out, talk about finding acceptance, talk about their lives with passion and a sort of odd detachment simultaneously. After the session was over and the last teens left (some very reluctantly), there was this sense of almost disbelief at what we had all witnessed, this crying need not for affirmation but a need to be heard, to be recognized.
I have long believed in the power of books, and I witnessed it BIG TIME. These teens knew the authors, knew their works, shared them with others, talked about them, and begged for more. Books can be mirrors. But they also need to be windows and doors. The audience for Konigsberg's books are not LGBTQ kids but all kids who want to be members of the society in which they DO live. We all need to be brave. WE. ALL. NEED. TO. BE. BRAVE.