Short Book Reviews

How Nancy Jackson Married Kate Wilson
and Other Tales of Rebellious Girls and Daring Young Women

by Mark Twain and John R. Cooley

Library Journal: “A dozen minor Twain pieces to show how Twain used some of his slight fictions to idealize his daughters Clara and Suzy Clemens as romantic, rebellious, and daring adolescents in the decades that glorified the sassy Gibson Girl. Twain probably considered his stories of transvestites, lesbian relationships, and sexual oddities almost scandalous, and he must have viewed “Little Bessie,” in which a child questions her mother about God, as dangerously blasphemous.”

A not terribly captivating book, in all, probably of more interest to Twain scholars than to women interested in tales of daring and rebellious women. The best story in it is Little Bessie about a girl who vigorously tears apart her mother’s Christian mythology — a story that wasn’t ever published, probably because it’s the most true thing Twain wrote.

Geography Club
by Brent Hartinger
Geography Club is a gay teen novel about 16-year-old Russel Middlebrook who comes out to himself befriends other gay teens at his high school, while battling bullying and homophobia from other classmates. It’s number 2 Book Sense’s list of favorite banned books. It’s been challenged at some school libraries due to homophobia, although it’s quite chaste in subject matter.

It was a quick and pleasant read and is a nice counterpoint to popular teen lesbian novels like Annie on My Mind. It’s nice that books like this exist nowadays. When I was a teenager, I was stuck with reading all the cross-dressing plays of Shakespeare, and checking out Collette novels.

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