The traditional publishing industry is located in one of the most liberal cities in America. On the whole its employees skew left.
Still, while homosexuality has been explored in YA novels for quite some time, it still says something that the cover for my friend Sarah McCarry’s About a Girl felt like something new.
The traditional YA world pushed content boundaries in the ’90s and ’00s, becoming increasingly comfortable with realistic, even graphic portrayals of teenage sexuality. The industry also started putting racy covers on YA novels where sexuality was barely even a tangential part of the story.
And yet even with those boundaries redrawn, something as simple as two fully-clothed girls kissing on a cover is something that somehow has eluded the industry’s norms.
We need diverse books, and one important step is for the publishing industry to get over its squeamishness about putting minorities and non-straight characters on book covers. Hopefully About a Girl is a sign that we’re one step closer.