Readers first meet Gabe as he DJs his first community-radio show, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.
It is only after hearing Gabe's friend and neighbor John, a fellow music lover who worked as a DJ for forty years, use Gabe's birth name that readers learn that Gabe is transgender. Being trans, Gabe opines, is like being a 45 record with an A side and a B side. When the story opens, only a few people know about Gabe's B side; the rest see him as a girl. When Gabe's radio show becomes an underground hit, generating a difficult-to-believe-but-pleasing-to-imagine cadre of fans calling themselves the Ugly Children Brigade, Gabe's B side is pushed further into public view. There are dates failed and successful, a forcible outing, a heartfelt but refreshingly easy coming-out talk with John, and a pair of increasingly violent, threatening and genuinely scary enemies. While Gabe's coming-out process figures heavily into the story, it is, refreshingly, only one aspect of his experience. The show-stealer here is John, a unique, well-conceived, funny and loving figure whose enthusiasm for music and endless support for Gabe provides solidity and warmth amid the many changes Gabe experiences.
A kind and satisfyingly executed portrait of a music-loving teen coming out as transgender. (Fiction. 12 & up)