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Stuff for the Teen Age

IDENTITY - Oscar Hijuelos & Lori Marie Carlson


Who are you?  Really, think about it for a minute. How do you define your identity? Does it have to do with your ethnicity? Your nationality? Your religion? What about the language you speak? Is it related to what you do? Your hobbies, interests, and ambitions? What about your physical features? Your gender, height, hair color? The question of what makes us us is one that people struggle with for their entire lives, and most people begin wrestling with that question from a young age.

These were the questions pondered by authors Oscar Hijuelos and Lori Marie Carlson during the TeenLIVE! program held at Grand Concourse Library on May 4, 2011. In his recent novel Dark Dude, Hijuelos tells the story of a light skinned Latino boy who trades Harlem for Wisconsin and is forced to confront his own identity. Previously, Hijuelos became the first Hispanic to win the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. As an editor Lori Marie Carlson has assembled several award winning anthologies—Cool Salsa, Moccasin Thunder, American Eyes, Voices in First Person—tackling questions of identity amongst Latino, Native American and Asian young adults; she contemplates women's roles in society in her novels The Flamboyant and The Sunday Tertulia.

The books written and edited by Hijuelos and Carlson evidence lives spent contemplating identity, and their lively discussion at TeenLIVE! shows that there is no single way to construct your identity. So who are you? Take your time responding.

Trying to decide who you are? Here are some awesome reads with characters trying to answer that very question! 

Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos

Feeling alienated from his community in 1960s New York City, a light-skinned Cuban American teenager decides to flee the city for rural Wisconsin. But, amongst the picket fences and apple pie, Rico Fuentes finds he can not escape who he is.


Voices in First Person: Reflections on Latino Identity edited by Lori Marie Carlson

A collection of 21 short monologues from some of today's most highly respected Latino writers about the experience of being young and Latino in the U.S.


Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier

Living in New Jersey, Dimple Lala feels torn between her identity as an Indian and as an American. Dimple tries to reconcile her cultural heritage, her interests, and her crush, while dealing with a manipulative blond-haired blue-eyed best friend who wants to take Dimple's identity for her own.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

What happens when two teens—one gay, one straight—meet only to discover they have the same name? Will the lives of Will Grayson and will grayson ever be the same? Probably not.

The Skin I'm In by Sharon G. Flake

When the kids at Maleeka's school aren't making fun of her for her homemade clothes or good grades, they're making fun of her dark skin. When a new teacher with a large visible birthmark on her face arrives at Maleeka's school, her thoughts about herself and her appearance are shaken.

The DUFF: Designated Ugly, Fat, Friend by Kody Keplinger

Bianca Piper may not be the most conventionally gorgeous member of her group of friends, but that doesn't mean she's going to fall for the charms of school-smooth-talker Wesley Rush. When a relationship between Bianca and Wesley accidentally materializes, Bianca must come to grips with who she is, how she wants to define herself, and how she wants to be defined.

Runaways: Pride and Joy (Volume 1) by Brian K. Vaughn; Adrian Alphona

Growing up is hard! School work, crushes, sexual identity, and fashion decisions are more than enough to keep Nico, Alex, Gert, Karolina, Molly and Chase busy. Then they discover that their parents are super villains...


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