When mousy, pudgy, white Emmy goes to her father’s family in Vancouver for a change of scene, she falls head over heels for Jude, a young white trans man.
Readers first meet 17-year-old Emmy as she kneels to give a loutish classmate a blow job. Far from earning her a boyfriend she can share her poetry with, it garners her friends’ scorn and her mother’s decision to send her away from Winnipeg. In Vancouver, she meets barista Jude, who instantly grabs her attention. Her distance schooling isn’t enough to keep Emmy occupied, and she finds herself drawn back to his coffee shop again and again, even, disastrously, taking part in an open mic night. Emmy’s catastrophically poor self-confidence frequently sends her retreating to her room to “comfort eat,” and she refuses to recognize Jude’s obvious interest in her, a self-pitying characteristic readers may find grating. High points for both Emmy and readers occur when her uncle gives her her deceased father’s youthful notebooks and shows her around the city by bike. Refreshingly, Jude does not function as a coming-of-age device, nor does Emmy ever evince any transphobia, instead educating herself as she crushes ever harder on him. However, this slim novel doesn’t give him much space to emerge as a fully developed character, particularly as so much page count is spent on Emmy’s misery.
Sparks fly between Emmy and Jude, but they may not between Emmy and readers. (Fiction. 14-18)