Book Review: The ABC’s of LGBT+ by Ash Hardell (published as Ashley Mardell)

Image description: The cover of the book The ABC’s of LGBT+ by Ashley Mardell

This guide to LGBTQIA+ identities written by respected queer YouTuber Ash Hardell (written under their previous name) offers quick but detailed explanations of a number of identities and orientations that exist within the queer community. While not specifically aimed at teens, this book is definitely written in such a way that it is both relevant and accessible to teens. Rather than relying on research or the author’s own knowledge, Hardell allows other people to share their own experiences with their own identities in their own words. That alone would set this book apart, but Hardell also makes a special effort to include a number of different terms, identities, and orientations that I had never heard of, despite being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community and familiar with a number of the lesser known identities therein. 

This is one of the most comprehensive and respectfully-written books I have ever seen on this topic. Hardell’s approach to asexuality is very respectful. What’s more, the definitions used in this book are accurate, which is unfortunately a surprising relief, given my experience with other similar texts in the process of building this bibliography. Hardell defines asexuality as “An umbrella term and/or stand-alone identifier for people who do not experience sexual attraction to varying degrees” (160). Asexuality and aromanticism are repeatedly referred to as existing on spectrums. No other LGBTQ+ guide I have found for teens gets this much correct. The book goes on to provide a personal testimonial from a collaborator about being asexual. This is, without a doubt, the best and highest-quality exemplar of this LGBTQ+ guide genre, particularly in terms of asexuality. I highly recommend adding it to any collection.

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