Once upon a time…
I was at my favorite bookstore, Women and Children First in Chicago, picking up a book I had ordered through them. Before I did that, of course, I had to wander through the entire bookstore as if I hadn’t just been there 6 days earlier.
I was looking through the Young Adult section, and overheard one of the shop employees helping a man who was shopping for a book for his 14 year old niece. She was very helpful but he wasn’t quite finding what he wanted and she seemed to be at the end of her suggestions and I’m standing there like:
After another few minutes, the employee said that she was going to go ask someone else if they had any more ideas and I JUST. COULDN’T. HELP. MYSELF.
Me: I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude or eavesdrop, but can I make a recommendation?
Luckily, both the customer and employee were like, “Yes! Please! That would be great!” The employee confessed that YA was one of the few areas where she hadn’t read as much as she liked, and I confessed that I’m a teen librarian and they both went “OMG that’s awesome! Yes please go ahead!”
So this lovely gentlemen proceeded to tell me that his niece is fourteen and kind of struggling with just generally being a teenager, and he wants a book that sort of gives her hope but also isn’t super cheesy.
I handed him Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy and was like HERE YOU GO YOU’RE WELCOME!
No I didn’t. But I did give him Dumplin’ and told him why I loved it and thought every teen girl ever should read it: because Willowdean has moment where she is really insecure about her body and moments where she’s like ‘Nah Girl I’m Fabulous!!’ and that’s so important. And because the book isn’t about her transforming in any way, it’s about her accepting that who she is is totally awesome without any alterations. And also there are drag queens.
He was so excited and said this was exactly what he was looking for!! Then he told me that he always buys his nieces and nephews toys/jewelry/whatever but that he also always gives them a book for Christmas, which made my bookloving heart melt, and I also loved that he was shopping at an independent book store and not That Website Which Shall Not Be Named (even though sometimes I shop there too), and he asked me if next year he could go to the library and ask a teen librarian for suggestions and then come buy them at W&CF and I was like
And he was happy and I was happy and we all lived happily ever after.