Alyx, an intersex teen, leaves California for Milwaukee to live as a girl for the first time.
After being bullied by vicious Ricky “Prickman” and his crew for being a “faggot,” Alyx and her mom decide she needs a fresh start. With a new last name and a new set of pronouns, Alyx moves with her mother to her grandpa and uncle Joe’s Midwestern home. Tall and a lover of basketball, Alyx becomes quick friends with her school’s varsity team, including pushy and dangerously hot-tempered Patti “Pepper” Pitmani. Background information about intersex conditions and Alyx’s own experience of her body are woven easily into the text, informative without being either dry or sensationalistic. If anything, the author errs toward telling readers too little. Without much discussion of Alyx’s sexual orientation, it is difficult to tell on what level slurs like “faggot” and “dyke” affect her. Similarly, Alyx’s teammates and school authority figures’ responses to her history being revealed are almost distractingly understated: Given Alyx’s fears, the insistence that Milwaukee is a conservative town, and the national reality of gender-based bullying, having only one or two straw-man characters approach Alyx with any hostility comes across as both anticlimactic and difficult to believe.
This necessary story is warmly told but occasionally feels incomplete. (Fiction. 14-18)