Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.
Our Friend is Here: Latinx Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where between September 15th and October 15th, Latinx authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Latinx and Latinx books. Find the introduction post for Latinx Heritage Month at The Quiet Pond here.
Adri is one of my favorite Booktubers. They have introduced me to so many books that are not frequently seen on Booktube, and new thoughts and insights on books that appear more often. I have especially appreciated their recommendations of Ownvoices queer and Latinx books, and queer sports contemporary books (!!!).
Adri truly puts their heart and soul into every video, and each of their words holds gravity. I highly recommend that you visit their channel… but only when you have a few hours to spend there, because I guarantee that once you click on one video you will not want to stop!
Adri visit us as a magnificent trans pegasus, wearing rainbow sunglasses, and I’m excited to tell you about their incredible booktube channel.
Adri: The Booktuber Behind perpetualpages
I have been watching Adri’s channel starting from not long after I began making videos in 2015. Their insight and critique of books, combined with their true love and passion for advocacy not only had me turning on notifications for their videos, but also encouraging my own love and voice in the community.
Some of my favorite videos of theirs include “The A to Z of Queer Lit 3.0“, their discussion video entitled “Why I Read What I Read“, and of course their “5 Reasons to Read: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas” video.
Interview with Adri
Joce: Hi Adri! Thank you for joining us at the Pond, and welcome! We are so excited to have you here to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month. Can you please tell us about yourself?
Adri: Thank you so much for having me! I’ve been a huge fan of The Quiet Pond and all the work y’all do around here, so it’s an honor to be stopping by. As for me, I am a queer, trans, non-binary Mexican-American book reviewer. My channel is perpetualpages, where I shout about books on the internet, with a particular focus on celebrating marginalized voices of all kinds. Outside of the “bookternet,” I watch a ton of anime, I love to run, and I’m also a writer. I’ve recently begun contributing reviews to WeReadToo, which has been an awesome experience!
Joce: I have always gotten the BEST book recs from your channel. For anyone unfamiliar with your videos, how would you describe your taste in books and media?
Adri: Aw thank you! It never gets old to hear that real people value your opinion and actually take your recommendations. I would describe my taste in books (and pretty much everything) as being highly eclectic. I don’t believe in boxing yourself in or drawing hard limits around what you will and will not read. I think it’s so awesome when you can find people who are all-in on one genre and cater all of their content to that, but that has never been me.
I am a voracious reader and I’m greedy when it comes to consuming as many stories as I can. I try my best to balance all different kinds of demographics (adult, YA, middle grade), viewpoints, experiences, and genres. It’s kind of a running joke (at least in my own mind) that if you click on any of my wrap-ups, you never know what book is going to come up next. I can easily do a hard swerve from political nonfiction to magical realism to adult romance, and that’s just the way I am!
Joce: Speaking of book recs, what are some of your favorite books that feature queer Latinx characters?
Adri: Oh my gosh. This is like my bread and butter, so we could quite literally be here all day, but I’ll try to condense it to my Greatest Hits:
💫 The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara is a breathtaking piece of historical fiction that explores the creation of The House of Xtravaganza. I cannot recommend it enough.
💫 The Gods of Tango by Carolina de Robertis is an incredible historical story about a young violinist who immigrates to Buenos Aires, begins presenting himself as a man so he can book gigs, and ultimately discovers that he is queer and trans.
💫 Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera is a no-holds-barred YA coming of age story that shows Juliet learning how to contend with white feminism and the dominance of white spaces as a queer Puerto Rican teen.
💫 Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz is a tender, emotional YA contemporary story about how friendship can slowly transform into romantic love. This was the first book to show me that you could be Mexican *and* queer.
💫 American Love Story by Adriana Herrera is an incredible queer adult romance about the intersections of injustice, social justice, and our interpersonal relationships. It’s political and sexy, and it’s fantastic!
💫 In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado is an astonishing memoir that blends horror and fantasy as a means for Machado, a queer Latinx woman, to explore the abuse she experienced in a past relationship.
💫 Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore is a recent favorite of mine! It’s about two ex-best friends, one of them a fat beauty queen made of stardust and the other a butch pansexual outcast, who team up to try and win a local pageant.
💫 Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas is honestly the book of my heart because it reflects so much of my experience. It’s about a queer trans brujo named Yadriel trying to win acceptance from his community, but when he summons the wrong spirit, he gets drawn into a mystery.
And yes, all of the books listed here are, indeed, #ownvoices.
Joce: We truly cannot round out a perpetualpages book recs section without asking for queer sports romance recommendations! These can be from any medium- books, TV shows, anime (ahem), or any others.
Adri: Oh gosh, I love queer sports stuff so much and honestly I wish there was more of it for me to recommend!
💫 Yuri!!! On Ice — Yes, I would be remiss if I did not mention this legendary anime. YOI is an incredible sports anime that spotlights ice skating, queer romance, and Yuri’s journey towards self-confidence. It does such a good job of balancing the competition element with the characters’ individual emotional arcs, and overall it’s just such a joyful show!
💫 Hoshiai no Sora (Stars Align) — This is a super cute sports anime about a boys’ soft tennis club trying to bolster their team and rack up more wins to save the team from being disbanded. There’s not much in the way of romance, besides a few crushes, but I wanted to include this one because one of the teammates, Yu, is openly questioning their gender, which is awesome!
💫 Running with Lions by Julian Winters — I’m forever a Lions cheerleader, because Julian Winters honestly gave us everything with this book. It’s got a soccer summer camp, team shenanigans, second chance friends-to-enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romance, and a wonderful commentary on learning to be okay with not knowing everything about your future.
💫 Fifteen Hundred Miles From The Sun by Jonny Garza Villa — Yes, I’m cheating because this one doesn’t come out until June 2021, but I’m already counting down the days! This is about Julián, who accidentally (and drunkenly) comes out on Twitter. He’s a high school senior just trying to make it to graduation and enjoy his last season on the soccer team.
💫 May the Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor — Another cheat! This is currently slated for May 2021, but it’s about a trans cheerleader and his ex-boyfriend, who happens to be a running back on the football team and head of the Homecoming Committee. The two go head-to-head in the race to become Homecoming King! Honestly, I’m SO ready.
💫 The Fence comic series by C.S. Pacat & Johanna the Mad — Fence is one of my favorite queer sports series about scholarship student Nicholas Cox who is fighting for his spot on the fencing team while also dealing with his number one rival, Seiji, who turns out to be his roommate. There’s also a super queer (and super good) novel adaptation, Fence: Striking Distance by Sarah Rees Brennan that just came out in September!
💫 The Avant Guards by Carly Usdin & Noah Hayes — Another amazing queer comic following a basketball team at an arts college! Every one of the teammates is a POC, several of them are queer, and one of them is openly non-binary. It’s like if Giant Days and Koroko no Basuke had a baby and it’s delightful!
Joce: We both started making videos on Booktube around 2014-2015 and it has evolved so much since then (and you are legit the most consistent creator!). What do you think are some similarities and differences between its current state of existence and how it was when you started?
Adri: Yeah, it’s wild! I started in late 2013, and there are times where it feels like I just barely started and other times where it feels like it’s been approximately ten million years. I mean, the landscape of BookTube is so incredibly vast and varied, and I think it’s almost impossible for any of us to have a truly holistic view of where the community is at any given moment.
Generally speaking, I feel like the tone and focus of BookTube has made a definite shift. Back in the day (ha) high energy, bubbliness, and quirkiness were highly valued and that was reflected in the biggest platforms within our community. Which is not to say that those things don’t still appeal to people and work for people, but there’s more of a variety now in the way people present their content. Early BookTube was also huge on book tags, book challenges, book discussions, and things of that nature. Again, those things are definitely still around, but there has been a big shift towards the popularity of reading vlogs, single review videos, and book hauls—all of which, again, very much have merit.
As much as it’s grown, though, I still think BookTube has retained a lot of its problems. There’s still a huge focus on white creators, cis creators, straight creators, and able-bodied creators. There’s also a lot of value still being put on things like video background, “aesthetic” beauty, high video quality, and having access to physical books—which are all offshoots of privilege in some way, shape, or form. Creators who happen to be those things and have those things are still celebrated the most and still retain the most power in our community. It’s been interesting to see how the community is somewhat adjusting itself as we find ourselves in this cultural moment of social reckoning, but I believe there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Joce: Different platforms and spaces on the Book Internet can become safe spaces for people to connect with others who share similar feelings or identities. What are some ways that this resonates with you (or not, please omit if it doesn’t!)?
Adri: I absolutely agree. Community remains one of the biggest motivators for me as a creator and will always be the most important and most rewarding aspect of everything I do online. Being on a visual platform like YouTube and making the conscious choice to put yourself in front of a camera week in and week out puts you in such a vulnerable place, but it also does so much for visibility.
I’ve had so many people leave me comments or messages saying that getting the chance to see me be a visible, vocal trans non-binary Mexican person has given them confidence to be themselves, which is huge. I’ve always said that you never really know what’s possible until you see it for yourself, until you see *one* person out there doing the dang thing and showing you that the possibility actually exists. To be able to find other trans BookTubers, non-binary BookTubers, queer BookTubers, Latinx BookTubers has been such an affirming experience, and we definitely gravitate towards each other because we naturally seek those who understand us.
The community that has been built around my little channel is honestly so wonderful, and has made a big difference in my life. A great example is when I changed my name earlier this year! When I posted about it, I received this huge outpouring of love and support, and I had people immediately saying my name back to me, which is exactly what I needed to hear. There have been times when I’m going through something difficult related to my marginalizations, and even though I may not be willing to tweet out those details, I might ask people to send their good vibes or cross their fingers for me. And the amount of people willing to show their love—without even needing context—is staggering to me, and it genuinely has bolstered me going into so many uncertain situations. Just knowing that I have people who understand me and who are quietly cheering for me has allowed me to face so much.
It’s amazing to be able to have people in your corner who you know you can turn to if you need support or if you want to celebrate something. Again, being part of a visual platform doesn’t leave much room for ambiguity, but the upside is that it’s easy to find your people and to connect with them in a meaningful way.
Joce: Lastly, as this is a celebration of Latinx Heritage Month and we really want to bring the celebration, could you please tell us about a/an Mexican creator (artist, musician, author, filmmaker really anyone!) whose work you enjoy? What is your favorite work of theirs?
Adri: There are so many *amazing* Mexican creators out there, but I think I would be embarrassing myself and my entire family if I went through this whole interview without once mentioning la reina, Selena.
For anyone who (somehow) doesn’t know, Selena Quintanilla was a legendary Mexican-American Tejano singer who died tragically in her youth, but left an incredible legacy of music that still moves people to this day. I grew up listening to her, watching the infamous J-Lo film adaptation, and really feeling the impact of her work. Selena’s music has made me feel closer to my family, to my culture, and to myself, and her songs definitely make numerous appearances across all of my playlists.
To choose a favorite Selena song is almost unfair, but I have such a soft spot for “No Me Queda Mas.” It definitely has more of a traditional flair, which I adore, and it reminds me of the classic mariachi and ranchera music my parents love to play in the house. My dad actually was a professional folklorico dancer in his college days, and he always brightens when he hears the opening of “No Me Queda Mas,” which is why I actually have it set as his ringtone. There’s just so many layers to why I love that song, but I would have to say it’s my favorite of hers.
Adri is a queer, trans, non-binary Mexican-American book reviewer. They’ve been creating BookTube content for over six years on perpetualpages and remain interested in creating content that celebrates and centers marginalized voices, intersectional viewpoints, and inclusive ideologies. When they’re not re-watching their favorite anime series, they can be found writing, laughing out loud while listening to podcasts in public, playing video games, and wearing geeky graphic tees to telegraph their interests to other people.