So I wrote in my initial review of this book: “Something about the climax of this book didn’t work perfectly for me, will try to suss out why later, but the rest of this was lovely. Really glad I read it. You know a book is good when you’re so caught up in it you don’t notice you’re reaching the last pages, and then it’s over and you’re sad.”
It’s been a little too long since I finished this now, and I can’t really remember details enough to be able to suss out my reaction like I wanted to.
Noting up front that I am a cis woman, and the author is a trans woman, so I’m obviously coming at this book from that perspective.
This is a YA contemporary book following Amanda, who has recently transferred schools and come to live with her father, even though they have in the past had a strained relationship. Amanda is trans, and when she began transitioning, had a series of terrible experiences at her school. Her mom was extremely supportive during the process, but both of them agree that starting over in a new place is a good idea. The majority of this book, aside from flashbacks, take place as Amanda makes friends and settles in to her new town and school. The main conflict, aside from Amanda reaching a place of acceptance with her own identity (which is all YA books), is that no one at her new school knows she is trans because she passes so well as a cis girl. She is also very beautiful and small and has delicate features, something that didn’t work out so well before her transition.
Amanda’s story is an idealized trans experience, per the author’s notes from the back, which was a deliberate choice on her part so she could explore things the way she wanted to in the book. I’m really wishing I would have written this review two months ago, because I can’t remember what those reasons were, but I’m very glad she included those notes, which detailed the things that were glossed over in the narrative (i.e., minors would not be allowed to have top or bottom surgery, or start hormones; also, Amanda passes very easily and doesn’t have to really deal with being misgendered after transitioning, and this is notable because a lot of trans women (as I understand it based on reading things trans people have written, but feel free to correct me on any of this) don’t have it that easy. Although, there are characters in the book who look much more masculine, so it is acknowledged, just not experienced by Amanda.
My only complaint upon finishing this was that the climax felt weird, but since my memory is full of holes, I can’t really tell you much more than that. And as the *writing* part of this (as in conflict, rising tension, climax, resolution; the structure/mechanics, the prose) is the only part I actually feel competent to criticize, that’s a shame.
Read Harder Challenge 2019: A novel by a trans or nonbinary author.