Exploring LGBT Themes in YA Lit & Everyday Library Life

Archive for the ‘transgendered’ Category

Review: Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

Release Date: 8 October 2012
Publisher: Flux
Reading/Interest Level: Grades 7 & up

Gabe may have been born and grown up as Liz, but deep down he has always known that he is definitely not a girl.  As high school graduation approaches, he begins to make plans for transitioning from Liz to Gabe.  Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to get others to see what’s on the inside when the outside doesn’t match.  As Gabe puts himself out there through his radio show and starts to imagine a future without the shadow of Liz hanging over his head, complications and heartbreak set the stage for questioning and a hefty dose of reality. Set amid a cast of both loveable and irritating characters, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children captures a lot of what it must be like to struggle to come out as transgendered–not just for that person but for his or her loved ones.  Ms. Cronin-Mills has crafted a cast of supporting characters, from parents who are really trying and a mostly accepting best friend to the cooler-than-cool next-door-neighbor who’s there for Gabe through it all, who all have important roles to play as Gabe learns that he must accept and love himself before he can convince the world to do likewise.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children tackles a difficult subject and does so masterfully.  Ms. Cronn-Mills takes on transitioning from female to male and the many difficulties associated with that change, especially after 18 years of living or being forced to live as a female, and puts it into the perspective of Liz/Gabe–who is out to his parents, best friend, and (eventually) neighbor and anxiously awaiting the end of high school so that he can transition to the person he is meant to be.  The path is not at all easy and the book tackles a lot of difficult facets–from being bullied to gaining the acceptance of friends and family.  It’s clearly not an easy road for anyone involved and Ms. Cronn-Mills didn’t shy away from those aspects.  Acceptance wasn’t sugar-coated or made to seem easy, and readers will appreciate that honestly.

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Review: I Am J

Release Date: 1 March 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Reading/Interest Level: Grades 9 & up

J may have been born a girl, but inside he’s most definitely a boy.  Growing up, J believed that someday everyone else would realize it too and things come be more normal, but life doesn’t always go as planned.  As J begins to find ways to cope with and cover up his increasingly feminine body, he must find the strength to let in those who love him and find his own path to happiness.  Through a grueling process of self-discovery and acceptance, J discovers what it really means to be yourself and what it will take for him to get there.  I Am J is an important coming-of-age novel written with impressive insight into the world of a transgendered teenager. J is a dynamic, vivid character whose story is eye-opening and heartfelt.  The narrative is believable and effective as a result and readers are sure to find themselves wholly immersed in J’s struggle to prove “My gender’s not a lie. I am not a lie.” 

I Am J is an important story that I, personally, found engaging and eye-opening.  As one of only two books that I’ve read about transgendered teens, I think that it’s crucial for librarians to be aware of those books that do exist to tell these teens’ stories. It’s important for both questioning teens and their peers to read stories such as these in order to experience on some level the diversity that exists in their world, whether they are aware of it or not.

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