Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is seriously into baseball, video games, the graphic novel he’s drawing, and a redheaded classmate named Madeline.
The white sixth-grader has been inseparable from his Chinese-American best friend, Josh Choi, since they met, but Josh can tell Shane’s distracted by something. Josh figures it’s Madeline, but Shane’s about to get a prescription for testosterone, which will allow him to start puberty and catch up with cisgender kids his age. Shane is in “stealth mode,” when a trans person keeps their gender status private until they share it with someone important to them. It’s bugging Shane that he hasn’t told Josh, but he’s still too scared. His own story is ripped out of his control when a bully finds out and spreads it around the whole school. Though his mother, a blonde, vegan midwife, is supportive and loving, after days of being the school pariah and the threat of losing everything, Shane finds that only Alejandra, a Latina trans girl he befriended in a support group, shines a light and gives him perspective. Hennessey does a good job normalizing what many people find incredibly different. The adults in Shane’s life don’t always get everything right, but they basically want to support him, which feels both realistic and aspirational. Alejandra is a valuable reminder that not all kids enjoy Shane’s privilege.
This is the story with a triumphant-but-realistic ending that trans kids haven’t had enough of. It’s challenging but not tragic, and it ends with bright, beautiful hope. (Fiction. 8-12)