Age Range: 14 - 18
Email this review


An agnostic, bigender teen moves in with their Catholic aunt and uncle after being sexually assaulted.

Chapter headers indicate if the protagonist currently identifies as Aleks (male, using he/him pronouns) or Alexis (female, using she/her pronouns). Aleks/Alexis cuts off all contact with their cosplay community after these former friends enabled their assault. When Aleks/Alexis discovers that their new room beside the church allows them to overhear confessions, they decide to secretly aid troubled parishioners. When they hear the confession of a priest who is molesting boys—and when their uncle, the priest receiving confessions, absolves him rather than stepping in—Aleks/Alexis determines that drastic action is needed. Aleks/Alexis narrates in a heavy first person that is colored by the shame, anger, and self-hatred they feel as a result of their trauma. The novel’s strongest element is the authentic bigender representation: Aleks/Alexis’ frequent ruminations on their relationship to gender and presentation ring resoundingly true. Though Aleks/Alexis’ parents model an excellent support system, readers should prepare for intense transphobia and homophobia from other characters. Unfortunately, the story’s pacing is off-kilter, with some elements rushed and others overly convenient. Though some character moments feel real, others lack nuance. Olive-skinned Aleks/Alexis has Russian Jewish heritage on their dad’s side; their crush, Sister Bernadette, has brown skin; the ethnicity of most other characters is not specified.

Authentic bigender representation is tempered by an ill-flowing narrative. (author’s note, topics for discussion) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 7th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-5415-7819-7
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Carolrhoda
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2020