I haven’t often re-read books in the past decade as I’ve gone on my Cannonball journey. But sometimes I revisit an old favorite, or earlier books in a series before continuing with the newly published. Due to my personal commitment to reading banned and challenged books it has also meant that our Banned Book Week book clubs have included re-reads. I try to review the re-reads on their own merits – what was the reading experience this time. But in the case of Gender Queer my experience is so tinged with watching a book I loved when I first read it in 2019 turn into the most challenged book of the past two years, that I never really left this book. I’ve been thinking about it, and suggesting it, and following its author for the past four years.
Both times I took a copy out of the library. I smiled when I spotted the cover of the copy I borrowed this time – the Stonewell Honor sticker prominently placed on the blue background instead of the golden yellow I had last time. Settling in this time I still found Kobabe’s deeply introspective journey illuminating and relatable, if from a different angle. I was reminded how brave Kobabe had been in sharing what eir body dysmorphia is like and how it had empowered me to speak up for myself more when I was physically uncomfortable. It is also still visually my Goldilocks’ porridge of graphic novels – it was just right for me. Kobabe’s style is beautifully vibrant without being overwhelming. Kobabe achieves such balance in eir work that I was able to slip into the work and devour it in one sitting, which is still a rarity for me.
Bingo Square: Queer Lives. Maia Kobabe is a non-binary author who uses eir/em pronouns and this memoir is the #1 most challenged book two years in a row because it explores eir queer life.