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HAPPY FAMILIES by Tanita S. Davis


by Tanita S. Davis

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: May 8th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-375-86966-2
Publisher: Knopf

In a compassionate family drama, twins Ysabel and Justin struggle with the revelation that their father has begun living as a woman.

Before, Ysabel was a talented glassblower and Justin a champion debate-team member, and the pair lived with both parents. After, their father has moved to the other side of the state, and everything has become uncertain. Will the twins' parents get a divorce? Is Christine still the same person as the dad they knew? Why did everything have to change? For spring break, Ysabel and Justin's parents arrange for the twins to stay with their father for the first time after the big news. Both the tension and the deep caring among Ysabel, Justin and Christine are palpable as the family (reluctantly, on the twins' part) attends daily therapy sessions, eats extravagant takeout meals and embarks on a guided rafting trip with other transgender parents and their children. Exposition is handled gracefully; both dialogue and narrative inform readers about what it means to be transgender while still staying true to the characters involved. The twins' move from suspicion to acceptance comes quickly but believably, and action-oriented scenes—a harrowing moment rafting, a search for a missing twin—keep the pace brisk. The story's focus on an African-American family makes it particularly notable in LGBTQ-themed teen literature.

Warmly drawn; a valuable conversation-starter for families like Ysabel and Justin's. (Fiction. 12 & up)