Monday, May 28, 2012

Where are the gay parents in YA lit? On another planet.

This week, fellow bloggers Kristine Asselin and Jonathon Arnston are conducting a series called "Where are the Gay Parents in YA Lit?" The series, which follows a similar one on works for younger readers last year, highlights novels portraying a demographic that's present in many young readers' lives, and that YA readers in particular might see themselves becoming part of: LGBT parents and guardians.

This post contains mild, early-chapter spoilers for The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first installment of Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy.

There's no statement in the Chaos Walking series that Ben and Cillian are a couple. They live in a dystopia where all the women are long gone, as is protagonist Todd's father. So it's not as telling as you might think that these two men, who were close friends with Todd's parents, have raised him together in a house they all share. But the degree of their attachment and their personal, profound understanding of each other seem to point toward couplehood, and there are little hints. "Ma convinced Pa and Ben convinced Cillian" to leave Earth for New World. In a moment of danger, the two men "clasp hands for a long minute."

It's not stated because it's not worth stating. Maybe these guys are just really close friends. It doesn't matter.

I've praised this trilogy, particularly the first book, before on this blog for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with this particular relationship. Because that's all it is: one of the many well-drawn relationships in this universe. If the story were the same except that women were present and Todd's guardians were a heterosexual couple, he wouldn't pause in his narration to say, "By the way, Ben and Celina share a room."

One more spoiler: Todd's pretty well-adjusted. For a kid who's grown up in an isolated and in many ways disastrous community, I mean.


  1. Oh my gosh, I love Ben and Cillian. As you mentioned, they're so well-drawn as parents and as a couple. And honestly, I think Todd is as well-adjusted as he is because he grew up with these two men as his parental figures.

  2. I love that this is a trilogy too! Thanks for the great run down!

  3. I'm not familiar with this book, Shoshana. It sounds wonderful! Thanks for the review and thanks for participating in the blog series about gay parents!

  4. @Annie, I agree!

    @Kelly, yes! And this isn't even the only example of a no-big-deal gay or likely gay relationship in the series, which makes sense with so many characters.

    @Kristine, I highly recommend it! It's my go-to "if you liked The Hunger Games" recommendation.

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  6. Yes the would make a great couple and it would be cute and we would all ship it, but from my perspective I see Ben and Cillian as a team they both are all in a family and are like parents to the child, Todd, but Todd calls only Ben pa as he sees him as a father figure and not Cillian, he loves Ben and Cillian dearly but I feel like Ben is a Father and Cillian a Uncle not necessarily blood related but yeah.