Title: Going Off Script by Jen Wilde
Two-sentence summary: When seventeen-year-old Bex accepts an internship to work on beloved TV series Silver Falls, she is ecstatic. But when the writers changes her lesbian character straight, she fights for healthy queer representation.
Portrayal of LGBTQ issues: The LGBT rep in this book is kind of meta, in a way. How so? Bex’s script featuring a lesbian (like herself) is stolen by a senior writer, who changes the character to straight and tries to market it as their own idea. Going Off Script features tons of discussion about why on-screen LGBT representation matters and the challenges that come with being an openly queer artist in a heteronormative workplace. Especially if you’re a queer, femme-presenting person.
What I liked: This is the exact kind of book I would have loved to read in high school. The set-up is like an ode to LGBT fandom and the fight to move from “queerbaiting” to real gay representation. It made me equally nostalgic and fired up for Bex as she stands up for herself and her community. If you remember Ship It (a queer YA released last year that featured fandom community goodness), this is an excellent companion book.
I especially enjoyed the budding friendship (and maybe something more) between Bex and Shrupty Padwal, a fellow lesbian who works on-set. Shrupty is the first queer person that Bex meets in the same industry as her. That can be a powerful thing for young LGBT people to see – that they can be open and proud of who they are and use it as a strength in their careers. If I were to pinpoint an overall theme in Going Off Screen, I think it would be that everyone’s voice is worth hearing without being stifled by those who don’t understand them.
“Sometimes you need to fight to be heard, especially when you’re the only woman in a room full of men.”
Recommended: I enjoyed Going Off Script and feel like it has a lot to offer in discussions about queer characters in the media. If you’re in for geektastic references and queer protagonists who are so easy to cheer for, check this one out!
Note: I was given an ARC in exchange for a fair review.