A relationship between Gretchen, who identifies as a lesbian, and Toni, whose gender identity evolves, suffers growing pains when the two attend college in different cities.
When they started dating, Toni had just fought their all-girls school for the right to wear pants, and Gretchen had just arrived from New York. Two years and almost no fights later, Toni and Gretchen leave for Harvard and NYU respectively. Toni falls in with a group predominantly consisting of young trans men and begins to explore new labels and pronouns. Gretchen becomes close with Carroll, an acerbic gay freshman whose discomfitingly vitriolic derision toward Toni's identity forces Gretchen to confront her own insecurities. Characterization is poignant and razor-sharp; well-drawn secondary characters often notice details about Toni and Gretchen before they do. There is no definitive resolution for the questions about Toni's gender or Gretchen's uncertainty about partnering with someone male-identified, but exploration is the point here more than answers are. The story does suffer, however, from a few strange omissions: only when Toni's mother threatens to take away Toni's credit-card privileges is there a hint of acknowledgement Toni has vastly more financial resources than the average teen, and despite Carroll's use of slurs typically wielded against transgender women, trans women themselves are conspicuously absent.
Emotionally astute, with a few gaps. (Fiction. 14-18)