A heartfelt and timely middle grade story about a transgender boy’s journey toward acceptance and empathy. Perfect for fans of George and Gracefully Grayson.
Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his teammates, to Josh, and to his new crush, Madeline. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.
Thoughts and Themes: I winded up checking this out from the library since it was one that I hadn’t heard of and I was intrigued by the description of the book. Something that I had to keep reminding myself is that this book was written in 2016 so I couldn’t compare it to the things that have come out recently. I was also really glad that this book existed for middle graders but I do think it is written more for people who want to learn about Trans people rather than for Trans people.
While there were a few things in this book that I enjoyed, there were more things that frustrated me about it. One of the things that frustrated me about this book was just how easy it was for Shane to get access to therapy, and then hormone therapy. While I know that this is just one experience of Trans people I felt that this was just the privileged experience because Shane is white and his family is well off.
I also thought that this book had a lot of stereotypical pieces in it, like the mother being the supportive parent and the dad taking longer to come around. There was also the fact that Shane knew he was a boy because he liked stereotypical boy things and not girl things. This was something that was really off to me because we are trying to move away from assigning colors, clothes, toys to gender at this time.
Characters: In this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with the main character, Shane. You get to meet both his mom and dad, his dad’s girlfriend, his best friend, Josh, some other Trans kids, and some of his classmates.
What I did enjoy about this book was the relationships that Shane has with everyone in this book. I really liked the relationship that Shane and Josh have with each other and how supportive Josh is of Shane before and after he finds out that he is Trans.
I also really did like the relationship that Shane has with both of his parents and the way in which this develops over time. I like that we get to see Shane have a conversation with his dad about what being Trans is like for him and how we get to also see the dad have feelings but be reminded that in this situation his feelings aren’t the most important ones. I also liked how the mom was supportive of Shane but I wish she would stand up for him more rather than just take him away from the situation with his dad.
Writing Style: This story is told in first person through Shane’s perspective. I liked that the story is told through Shane’s perspective because you get the sense that you are listening to a kid tell you this story. I think because of the way that this is written it would be a good book for children ages 10+ to read and I think its a good way to learn about Trans people. it is important to note though that this is one experience and is not all Trans youth experiences.
M.G. Hennessey loves Star Wars, the San Francisco Giants, strawberry ice cream, and dancing. She mentors teens at the Lifeworks program/LA LGBT Center and volunteers as a CASA with L.A. foster kids. She’s also the dean of Camp Transcend Family Camp, and an organizer of the Gender Odyssey LA conference. A supporter of the Transgender Law Center, Gender Spectrum. and the Human Rights Campaign, she lives in Los Angeles with her family. She/Her
Sfé R. Monster is a comic artist and illustrator who is deeply invested in the telling of transgender stories, whose own work includes the comic Eth’s Skin and The Beyond Anthology. Sfé lives on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in Nova Scotia, Canada, and enjoys conspiracy theories, eerie beasts, and folk music. They/Them