The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Letters to Their Younger Selves, by

misspentdays's review against another edition

Go to review page

This collection of letters from queer writers to their younger selves is edited by Sarah Moon, while James Lecesne of the Trevor Project, which offers hotline services to LGBTQ young adults in crisis, serves as a guest editor. The collection features sixty authors writing letters to their younger selves.

While all of the contributors are now successful writers, they are a cross-section of ages and experiences, which helps this book feel more universal than it otherwise might have. This feeling on my part is in opposition to the Kirkus Review's perception that by the nature of the contributors (very successful authors and illustrators), universality is reduced.

Patrons reading this book will appreciate the variety of voices and styles the letters are written in, including a response to a letter one of the author's wrote to their adult self at 13, along with a number of comics. Some of the writer's tell of feeling extremely isolated, alone, or even unaware; others mention being aware of who they were and okay with it. This is another important aspect of the book. It does not tell the reader they must be depressed or horrified about the idea of their sexuality, but that it okay if it is a struggle. Aside from inspiring letters and the ability to feel supported by these distant writers, the book also provides contact information for the Trevor Project, which could be a lifesaver for some readers.

Many of these author's names will be familiar to readers, which the reader will likely appreciate. It definitely carries the "It Gets Better" message throughout, which makes sense as the book came out when the campaign was at it's height.

blurrybug's review against another edition

Go to review page


More in depth review to come tomorrow

skettska's review against another edition

Go to review page


Complicated feelings about this one. On the one hand, I could see how it could be helpful and inspiring to teens. But I’m not really a teen anymore. It made me want to write my own letter, but that also made me think about where I am in my life rn.

abigailbat's review against another edition

Go to review page


An impressive and necessary collection of letters, essential for all public libraries. Personally, I think I most enjoyed reading the authors with whom I was already familiar (David Levithan, Bruce Coville, Malinda Lo, etc.), but this is the type of book that's going to mean something different to every reader. A diverse range of contributors is included.

caresays's review against another edition

Go to review page


The general consensus from book group was that this book would've meant a lot more to us if we had read it in adolescence. It would've meant to lot to see these "it gets better" letters then. But, at this point in our lives, we found it all pretty unremarkable, mostly unmemorable, and some of the gay white ones totally boring and slightly misogynistic and bi-phobic.

ash_hernick's review against another edition

Go to review page


Felt under-edited and overly personal. In theory this is a great concept, but in practice it's not the best. The only letter that's stuck with me is told in comic format, and shows the artist's older self meeting their younger self and having a conversation with them outside on a cold night. It's a beautiful piece but it's not worth buying the entire book for one comic.

nithou's review against another edition

Go to review page


Un ensemble d'auteurs qui prennent la plume pour écrire aux jeunes adolescents qu'ils/elles ont été. Extrêmement touchant, plein d'espoir sans tomber dans la béatitude, terre à terre mais salvateur. Triste de constater que les pensées suicidaires sont malheureusement le lot quand on découvre notre différence, mais heureux de voir toutes ces figures venir redonner de l'espoir et insuffler que l'on surmonte et dompte ces pensées, allant même jusqu'à puiser en elles pour grandir. Touchant.

"Don’t ever confuse “normal” with “better.”"

readinggrrl's review against another edition

Go to review page


Uplifting letters from authors to their younger selves. These letters cover everything from self-acceptance, keep pursuing your dream because it will happen, to stop being a bully and hanging out in parks at night. For every kid who thought they were weird, different or didn't know where they fit in this shows that it does indeed get better. I also like the idea of writing to yourself, one of the authors actually wrote a letter to his older self when he was 13 then stumbled upon it later and used it when writing his piece in this book. What an amazing find and what a great idea. To see where you are in 10-20-30 years and look back on what you thought was important to ask at that time.

dessy331's review against another edition

Go to review page


This was, truly, so wonderful.

"When you encounter people who have small minds or tiny hearts [...], try not to be too discouraged. Don't take it personally and don't waste time convincing yourself that they have the right idea. They don't. Remind yourself that they may be members of your species, but they do not belong to your tribe - and you won't belong to theirs. Go find your own people. And don't allow anyone to make you feel bad because of who you are. Ever."

This is a book's worth of personal letters from LGBT+ writers to their former selves, all sharing the distinct but not at all contrived message of: "it gets better" - so much better. I almost wish I'd saved this and read just one letter every time I had a bad day like Sarah Moon at the beginning of the story did. But nah, I read it all the way through in a couple days. I genuinely feel like this book should be on every LGBT+ person's shelf (although realistically not every teen is able to own a book with the word "queer" so clearly on its cover, I know), something that they can look at every day and be reassured that, although their current situation may be rough, look at all these people who've gone through it (and maybe worse) who now have wonderful, happy, fulfilled lives. I feel like those little reminders would be so vital to any young person struggling with their identity.

I especially loved Julie Anne Peters letter - and so many others, whose names I didn't stop to jot down but still loved.

There is some really solid and truthful advice in here that I think is so important - this book is obviously meant for LGBT+ kids but anyone really could gain something from reading it. I liked that there were different styles of letter, each unique to the writer. Some were funny and playful, some were dark and painful. Some were told in letters, some in comics.

"I'm still not entirely sure whether I use the word irony correctly, but I believe there's something exquisitely ironic about making fun of your non-gay teacher for being gay, and then going home and listening to Barbra Streisand's Broadway Album over and over again."

Many of them were very poignant, these are a collection of stories from people who've lived through the same confusing, often painful experience of being "different" and come out on the other side more well-rounded and insightful because of their struggles. What they have to say is important and useful to anyone who is having a hard time coming into their own identity - queer or otherwise. You may not be able to identify with their being LGBT+ but I feel like that struggle is universal for most kids. We all go through a time where we're unsure of ourselves and trying to figure out who we are and feeling like we're the only ones in the world who feel this way. It's a universal experience, I think.

"Feeling a little different, even unique, you too glibly assume that your task of being true to yourself is unprecedented in human history. It's easy (and sometimes fun) to wallow in sadness of being separate because it makes you seem that much more richly individual. If you can, try not to succumb to the narcissism of loneliness too much. Mind you take care of someone else while you're taking care of yourself. We all are struggling to release our souls from stone, like those sculptures of Michelangelo you will come to love. Each person doesn't turn out the same, of course, but we are all equally different."

I also appreciated that there was a good range of diverse perspectives, from gay/lesbian identifying writers, to bisexual, to people of all different races (and the unique challenges they face growing up LGBT+), non-binary, some not specifying their LGBT+ identities - I think there was also an intersex and trans writers but I can't remember 100%, there were a lot (over 60, I think). All offering their own advice to their younger selves, but also for the readers who might be in need of the same advice and reassurance that they did back then.

"Right now, you see things in black and white, and believe fervently in right or wrong. Heaven or hell, gay or straight, good or bad, boy or girl. But the world is not like that: nothing is permanent, and there are no definite answers, no single way of being. What if you could be handsome instead of pretty? [...] You'll discover that sexuality and gender do not stay still, but like clouds, shift and twist and open up in beautiful new ways."

Also, most of these writers grew up in a much harsher time than I did, so it was interesting - and horrifying - to see the challenges they faced growing up in a world that was so much less open minded than it is today (and by no means is today's society perfect). Many of the writers shared the experience of turning to literature to understand their sexuality - and being horrified and shamed by what those "educational" books told them about people like them. At least I didn't have to hear that homosexuality was a mental illness or that they were doomed to a life of misery and disease. Truly heartbreaking. But then again, I know future LGBT+ kids will look back on our generation's stories and be horrified at what we had to go through, and on and on and on, hopefully until we get to a future where LGBT+ kids don't have to suffer, at all, and they can remember the brave people that came before them and fought for that future for them: one coming out experience at a time, one legalized marriage battle won at a time, one rainbow flag raised at a time, one young confused teen trying to make sense of their feelings at a time.

"And by the way, in the future you will have many dogs, so don't regret that part of your past. The painful unanimalness of your childhood and teens. Dogs are in your future. Great ones - who are waiting to meet you - so go ahead. Say hello, move toward them. Welcome! WOOF!"

(Well if that isn't freakin' motivational, I don't know what is.)

It feels a little weird to rate people's personal letters but whatever. I couldn't give it any less than 5 stars anyway. If you think this book would be helpful to you or that you would gain something from it, I would urge you to pick it up because I honestly do think it's worth the read through. Even if you just picked it up every once and while and read a letter or two whenever you felt like, go for it.

+ Thanks to all the writers who contributed, you helped make a very beautiful collection.

mountie9's review against another edition

Go to review page


The Good Stuff

David Levithan's essay was so hilarious yet sweet and honest - will now be looking for some of his writing
A good mixture of humour, sadness and anger
The message of hope and forgiveness is so prevalent and beautifully and honestly done
Very powerful and inspiring
Brian Selznick's essay was extremely funny and tender
Martin Moran's essay is heartbreaking, so brave to have told his story - such strength of character and a very inspiring story to those LGBT youths with thoughts of suicide
Wise and non preachy advice for helping kids who are struggling with their sexuality

The Not So Good Stuff

Brutal to hear of parents & educators abuse of children over something as natural as sexual preference

Favorite Quotes/Passages

""I'm still not entirely sure whether I use the word irony correctly, but I believe there's something exquisitely ironic about making fun of your non-gay teacher for being gay, and then going home and listening to Barbara Streisand's Broadway Album over and over again." David Levithan

"Yes, the indignities you suffer at the hands of bigots can make you bitter. But they can also strengthen your ability to empathize with the oppressed, and in doing so, enlarge the capacity of your heart." Doug Wright

"You will discover that all gay men are not stylish, witty, promiscuous, and viciously entertaining. No one said that equality was going to be fun." Paul Rudnick

"I hear you say, I want to die, and it tears at my sould that you're only thirteen and ready to give up on life." and "No! Don't get back at everyone by dying. Get back at them by living and saving lives, starting with your own. Fight for your life." Mayra Lazara Dole

Who Should/Shouldn't Read

For teens of ALL genders and sexuality -- the message of believing and loving yourself apply to everyone and not just those struggling with their sexuality
My Uncle should have read this and maybe he would have loved and accepted his son no matter of Bruce's sexual preference. My cousin told his Dad that he was gay and my Uncle never spoke to him again. My Dad became a surrogate father to Bruce and tried to help him but ultimately Bruce's life was cut short by the acts of self-hatred and abuse (Drugs, alcohol, dangerous sexual partners, etc) caused by his fathers abandonment.
This should be in every public and school library so kids struggling can hear the message of hope that you will get through this from those who have
Required reading for ALL educators and parents

5 Dewey's

I received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review

My advice to my younger self

Michael Tinker is never going to go for you - get over him
Michael Corsini is MARRIED - he is scum for not telling you this -- but hey the man who ended up defending you and giving your friends hell - you end of marrying and having two beautiful heathens with him (And BTW he's moving you to Calgary next month so you might want to think about getting over your hatred of country music)
Stop with the diet pills, they are going to fuck up your digestive system for life -- you are beautiful the way you are
Stop pretending to be someone else so people will like you -- accept who you are and love yourself for that and people will actually like the real you
Don't sleep with all those divers -- they are not going to love you -- they just want in your pants and you will hate yourself for it
Don't have a fight with your Dad the night before he goes on vacation to Bermuda -- he dies there and you will not be able to tell him you are sorry and how lucky you were to have such an exceptional (and completely wacky) guy for a Dad
Get over your fear of driving (sorry snorter porter -- you still got to work on that one)
What that man did was wrong, he abused his position of power and it was not your fault!
For gods sake you are smart enough to go to University and become a Librarian - tell that nasty voice in your head to piss off (cause quite frankly Librarians get paid way more than the Library Technician you became)