Reading Reflections: On Reviewing Diversity – Retrospective Notes & #OwnVoices Context (Part 2)


Many moons ago, I blogged about how my identity affects my perspective as a reviewer and the importance of #DiverseBookBloggers in Reading Reflections: On Reviewing Diversity. Recently, the own voices conversation has become even more important in the book community. I’ve added an #ownvoices tag to the book blog for anyone who is looking for those books here but will be more direct in my future reviews/book lists. Though I encourage any interested book blogger to follow Shenwei‘s advice on researching before reviewing/creating diverse book lists:

(Shenwei’s book blog is an amazing example of this approach.)

Updated in 2017 – Check out this great resource: Reviews of trans and/or non-binary lit by trans and/or non-binary reviewers

After reading own voices perspectives in reviews and articles, I’ve added these contextual notes to old book reviews:

Updated in 2017 – Important notes:

It’s always best to seek out multiple own voices perspectives on stories with trans protagonists. See articles such as Rise of the Gender Novel, which explores the potentially problematic/triggering elements for a trans reader. Also this review, which shares a different trans perspective on the book.

*It’s also been brought to my attention that even though research has gone into this story, it is also worth reading more #OwnVoices trans stories, which I will endeavour to do.

*See Vee’s #OwnVoices thoughts + articles for an important perspective on storytelling tropes around the depiction of physical/sexual assault in trans stories.


*Important Note: There is a problematic passage about Native American people that is left unchallenged in the text. Read this own voices review for a full understanding of why correct context matters in challenging common anti-Indigenous assumptions.

Nothing exists in a vacuum and I am grateful to all who share own voices perspectives on books. I might do a similar round-up of amended reviews as I learn more about acknowledging my own blindspots as a reviewer in the future. Although hopefully, I’ll have done more research beforehand to tackle that barrier.


9 thoughts on “Reading Reflections: On Reviewing Diversity – Retrospective Notes & #OwnVoices Context (Part 2)

  1. This was very insightful and helpful. Thanks for sharing. I do need to be better about reading more carefully and critically. I don’t want to miss/overlook hurtful things in a book just because I’m enjoying it.
    When I read For Today I Am A Boy, I will be sure to read reviews by trans readers before I review it myself.


    1. I always admire the work you do Naz! I’m glad this was some help, it’s something I’m still working on. I definitely need to read more ownvoices reviews but I also enjoyed how you unpacked your experience of reading The Unintentional Time Traveler. It inspired me to do that a bit more as well in a few reviews.


  2. Thank you for the tips and inspiration! I haven’t been keeping track of #ownvoices books on my blog, but I’ll go back through and do that.

    I generally note when I’m critiquing a book about an experience outside my own (disability stories, POC stories, rape survivor stories, etc), but I’m not up-front about exactly how I fit into the LGBTQIA+ community. So far that hasn’t been an issue—I haven’t found/read any books that reflect my identity and experience, unfortunately—but I’m kind of nervous about the day it comes up on my blog. Largely because (a) my blog’s associated with my professional profile, which, uh, I might remove now that I think about it, and (b) several members of my family read my blog, and they’re loving but not exactly accepting of my identity. My blog doesn’t feel safe enough.

    Whoops, sorry to ramble. This is an important post; thanks for sharing it, and all the links! =)


    1. No worries Liam! I love your approach to noting outside experiences. I definitely understand that feeling of being cautious when a book is close to how one identifies too. I had a similar conversation with a friend in my first reflective post which I’ll quote here too:

      ‘I also agree that it is possible to identify lived experiences in a book without being direct about an aspect of one’s own identity in a review – It’s a bit like letting that sense of self-awareness inform your thoughts and shape a more rounded review while maintaining enough distance to be able to share your thoughts about a book for others to read. I just occasionally decide to share a bit more about my own perspective😄.

      Sharing any aspect of one’s identity is always a personal/context specific experience. I do think that communal blogs (like Diversity in YA or Disability in Kidlit), which specifically cover diverse literature are more likely to be direct about reviewer identity because communal blogs are safe places and the expectations of blog readers align with the theme. ‘

      So I completely understand the need for a blog space to have a certain level of safety first before sharing aspects of identity. If you ever do a read a book that you identify with and want to talk about that aspect, feel free to reach out because I know some book blogger friends who are happy to do guest review posts in safe spaces with anonymity if needed!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much for quoting yourself; I hadn’t read the comments on that post, and clearly I should have! I wholeheartedly agree with you, and you’ve helped me feel less guilt for not being wholly upfront with my readers.

        And oh, guest-blogging on safe blogs is a fantastic idea, and never occurred to me. If I’m struck by a serious need to discuss an identity-related book at length, I’ll let you know. Thank you so much for the offer! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks so much for such a fantastic resource! Vee’s review guide is definitely bookmarked for when I want to review/post thoughts on a trans book.
    Probably I should start every review by situating myself first, kinda like in my sociology papers 🙂 Just wish there would be a book where I’ll share the writer’s and character’s marginalization. Which is depressing af, really. But yeah something to do for 2017.


    1. Glad to share resources 😀 If I’m delving into a particular context outside of my immediate one, I explain my limited perspective but it really depends on the review. With some books, I’m happy for the reader to know that I’m a diverse book blogger just from the button/about page instead of a direct reference but I say go with whatever works/feels most comfortable for sharing your thoughts!

      I hope you find more relatable books too. I think it’s rare for many of us to identify strongly with a writer’s/character’s background as there’s intersectional, cultural and/or generational differences at play even when weu share some cultural identity. (E.g. Most of the Filipinx and Asian characters I’ve found in books are either American or grew up in the another part of Asia whereas I grew up in Australia. Australia and America are definitely both Western countries but there are cultural differences between them too.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I think it’s a work in progress with disclaimers for reviews, hopefully I’ll know more next year!
        Oh yeah, I hope more German WoC lit will get published! Heh at least my dad taught me to use spices!😁👌 Hope you find more Aus Filipinx lit too!

        Liked by 1 person

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