Reviews /

Here and Queer: A Queer Girl’s Guide to Life

Authored by Rowan Ellis
Illustrated by Jacky Sheridan
Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books

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A visually engaging, truth telling guide to understanding sexuality, gender and what it means to be queer for young women. Here and Queer: A Queer Girl’s Guide to Life explores the stages of self-awareness and self-acceptance when coming out and living life as a queer girl. Ellis recognises that the ‘girl’ of the title may be a limiting label and acknowledges that current readers will be along a gender spectrum at the time of reading or later in life, as well.

The guide is honest and open about the process of coming out, finding safe spaces and what a girl might expect as a young queer person. She provides definitions of sexual acts, gender identities and presentations as well as ways that girls might live as queer people. An excellent section on what consent looks like and how it might be negotiated and another explaining that feeling and being queer looks different for all people within the community and that ‘being’ does not have to equate ‘doing’.

As an ally, rather than a queer person, I found the gentle narrative approach welcoming for all readers. She speaks to her readers as someone who has trodden this path before with expertise but not as an expert. She routinely ends each section with suggestions for other places to find information if her advice or explanations did not fit those of the reader. And at the end is a helpful glossary and series of addresses and contacts as well as a list of resources to ‘Take it Further’.

Having made her name as a content developer on YouTube and as a contributor to a range of news media sites, Ellis comes across as knowledgeable, accessible and kind. Just what a young woman would want.

Highly recommended for community and school libraries as a good starting point for readers of 14 years and above. It would make an excellent resource for PCSHE teachers and departments. The illustrations provide variety of experiences and presents a diverse community of participants.

I particularly like the range of ‘real-people-profiles’. As Ellis herself notes, the book focuses on the joy of being a queer person; she acknowledges some of the trauma in the community but does not focus on it. The real-people stories help drive this. They each acknowledge some of the hardships of coming out or being bullied but then also explore how wonderful it is to find the right people to make life joyful and exciting.

Here and Queer is a powerful book for young women and the people who love and support them.