I’ve only just barely started reading Janet Edwards’ Earth Girl, so content and plot-wise I can’t say all that much. But just a few chapters in, I can already say that I’m hooked.
[The down side of this cover is that it’s a white girl, when the main character is implied to be a POC, but that’s YA lit for you.]
I bought Earth Girl after seeing this post on Tumblr, which basically blew my mind and sent me directly to Amazon, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Earth Girl is a borderline utopia in a sea of YA dystopian novels, and in just the first chapter you get a wonderful sense of why: we have a future in which humanity has achieved interstellar travel and planetary colonialization, and those individuals who need to stay on Earth due to an immune deficiency that makes them unable to survive on any other planet are raised in supportive family units (if their biological parents choose not to raise them), given free education and basic guaranteed income, etc. The protagonist, Jarra, is one of these disabled people, or “handicapped”, and from the first chapter she establishes herself as kick-ass, intelligent, funny, and precocious–just about everything I enjoy in a character.
From what I’ve heard from friends who have read this book, it does wonderful things for representation–not just disability representation, but also showing a spectrum of genders, sexual orientation, relationship types (except love triangles, because apparently Edwards took a look at that trend of YA fiction and said “fuck that”, for which I am very grateful), and family structures. At the same time, the book doesn’t feel even remotely “preachy” (I hate to even use that word, because representation =/= preachiness, but even the idea would turn some people off, and you shouldn’t be turned off because you should absolutely buy and read this book)–it’s fun and delightful and so clearly told from the perspective of a teenager. I’m absolutely adoring it three chapters in, and I can’t wait to finish it and buy the next book in the trilogy.