Atravesados: Essays on Queer Latinx Young Adult Literature

(Under advanced contract with University Press of Mississippi)

Editors: Trevor Boffone and Cristina Herrera

In addressing the future of queer young adult (YA) literature in their foundational volume, The Heart Has Its Reasons: Young Adult Literature with Gay/Lesbian/Queer Content, 1969-2004, Michael Cart and Christine Jenkins pose the following questions to scholars, students, and readers to evaluate realistic and relatable queer texts for youth: “Does it have not only an authentic but an original voice? Does it offer fresh insights into the lives of GLBTQ people? Does it offer other innovations in terms of narrative strategy, structure, theme? Or is it the same old story, told in the same old way that readers have encountered countless times in the past?” (166). Their provocative questions no doubt call on YA writers to reject the common early storylines in this genre’s emergence that far too often relied on plot tropes of suicide, gay-bashing, homophobia, or eventual straightness that needed to be coaxed out from the “phase” of queerness. Indeed, in the almost two decades after their publication, it is safe to say that the concerns raised by Cart and Jenkins have largely been answered by Latinx YA writers who engage with queer content, themes, and characters. What has not changed so much, unfortunately, is another version of the “same old story,” the overall paucity of literary scholarship on queer Latinx YA literature.

In the spirit of Cart and Jenkins’ collection and others, then, which we will discuss throughout this collection, Atravesados: Essays on Queer Latinx Young Adult Literature shows how Latinx queer YA writers discard the “same old story,” offering critical representations of queerness that broaden the vibrant field of YA writing to insist on the presence of queer teens of color. Our title draws on foundational Chicana queer theorist Gloria Anzaldúa’s notion of “atravesados” to speak to the spectrum of queer youth Latinidades as they materialize in YA literature. Los atravesados, according to Anzaldúa, are “The squint-eyed, the perverse, the queer, the troublesome, the mongrel, the mulato, the half-breed, the half dead; in short, those who cross over, pass over, or through the confines of the ‘normal’” (3). Los atravesados reside in the borderlands space of ni de aquí ni de allá, neither here nor there, present yet liminal, their queerness the very source of both frustration and empowerment, a paradox of joy and tragedy. Although written in 1987, Anzaldúa’s theory speaks to the realities of queer Latinx teens that fill the pages of YA literature well into the twenty-first century. Characters such as Juliet from Gabby Rivera’s Juliet Takes a Breath, Aaron from Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not, or the titular Chulito from Charles Rice-Gonzales’s novel encompass the highs, lows, and everything in-betweenness of queer Latinx teen lived experiences. This collection tells their stories.

This proposed text, the first critical volume of essays that examines queer Latinx YA literature, offers scholars and students in the fields of young adult literary studies, Latinx Studies, and youth studies a foundation in which to engage with this rich body of work that powerfully imagines what it means to be a queer Latinx teen in the twenty-first century. While queer YA scholarship has emerged as a major field within Youth Studies, with foundational texts like the aforementioned The Heart Has Its Reasons, or other titles like Over the Rainbow: Queer Children’s and Young Adult Literature and Representing the Rainbow in Young Adult Literature, seldom have these volumes thoroughly engaged with a discussion of the wide range of queer Latinx YA texts. Expanding upon the important work of these benchmark texts, Atravesados: Essays on Queer Latinx Young Adult Literaturecalls for a lively, critical discussion not only on representations of queerness in Latinx YA literature but how queerness should be a central component of how we understand Latinx YA literature as a genre. Despite the achievements of award-winning authors, such as Anna-Marie McLemore, Charles Rice-Gonzales, Gabby Rivera, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Alex Sanchez, Adam Silvera, and others, scholarship on queer Latinx literature has overwhelmingly ignored texts written for younger audiences

This call for papers seeks submissions that address queerness in Chicanx/Latinx young adult literature. We seek chapters of 4,000-6,000 words that engage with these themes and/or others in queer Latinx young adult (YA) literature. In particular, the editors welcome scholarly chapters that engage with the following themes that may include, but are not limited to:

  • Genealogies of queer Latinx YA literature
  • Critical perspectives of texts by authors, such as Zoraida Cordova, Mark Oshiro, Anna-Marie McLemore, Charles Rice-Gonzales, Gabby Rivera, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Alex Sanchez, Adam Silvera, Aiden Thomas, and others
  • Pedagogy and teaching YA writing  
  • Trauma studies
  • Comparative analysis of multiple queer Latinx YA texts
  • Disability and queerness in YA writing
  • Trans and nonbinary identities 
  • The politics of YA publishing
  • Spaces for YA literature (libraries, classrooms, digital spaces, etc.)
  • Queer futurity and temporality
  • Queer speculative fiction
  • Queering YA literature

Interested contributors should send a 300-word abstract with title, brief biography, and contact information to the editors by October 1, 2021. If accepted, we will request completed chapters of 4,000-6,000 words in MLA format by April 1, 2022.


Trevor Boffone, Lecturer of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; University of Houston,

Cristina Herrera, Professor and Director of Chicano and Latino Studies, Portland State University,