A genderqueer teen claims their identity and comes out to the people they love in this novel in verse for reluctant readers.
Sixteen-year-old Jamie wears a too-tight vest to bind their chest beneath their baggy clothes. Neither “boy” nor “girl” feels right to them, but they worry about who they will become if they don’t fit inside the binary. With the encouragement of their best friend, Levi—a Jewish, cisgender, gay teen—Jamie seeks out the language to describe themself and gains the courage to share who they are with family and friends. The title, which misgenders the main character, mischaracterizes this otherwise sensitive, free-verse exploration of gender identity. Finding representation and community plays an important role in Jamie’s self-discovery. Their experience coming out to their older brother, Steve, and parents is refreshingly hopeful. Steve doesn’t always use affirming language. When describing his transgender roommate, he says, “Charlie was born / as a female biologically, / but he identifies as male.” However, he behaves as an advocate for Jamie with their parents and helps Jamie access a safer way to bind their chest. While Jamie has an overall positive experience with their family, James still acknowledges the challenges that come with living in a society that enforces a gender binary. Characters seem to follow a white default.
A coming-out story full of love and affirmation that encourages identity exploration. (Verse novel. 12-18)