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“Overweight and unhappy at home, Emmy gets sexually involved with a popular classmate so that people will think that she is worth liking. When she realizes that he is just using her, she decides to leave her home in Winnipeg to stay with her uncle’s family in Vancouver. Emmy has always been intimidated by her perfect cousin Paige and Paige’s cool friends, so she is surprised to find that the coolest of them is transgender. Emmy is instantly attracted to Jude (who used to be Judy), and starts hanging out at the coffee shop where he works. She even performs at the poetry slam Jude hosts there.

Emmy is never sure where she stands with Jude, and can’t believe that such a confident, charismatic guy might actually be interested in her. Both her mother back in Winnipeg and Paige warn her away from Jude, saying that he will just use her and she will get hurt. But it’s not until she almost falls again into the trap of casual sex to boost her self-esteem that Emmy realizes it’s worth it to put your true self out there for real love.”

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I got an ARC in return for an honest review on NetGalley.

I requested this book because there are still very few YA books where a transman is one of the leads. It is especially rare when the book is from the perspective of the straight girl that is interested in him. So I was beyond stoked to read this book, but as always I had really low expectations as I am used to books about transmen or having a transmale character being pretty terrible.

This book blew my expectations out of the water. I am really particular when it comes to the grammar around transgender (Note: “transgender” is correct, “transgendered” is not). This book was amazing at getting that right. That alone made this book stand out for me. There was even a passage where the flippant cousin was shown to be pretty self-absorbed and uncaring that hit so close to home. The cousin had introduced the two main characters to each other, but then kept referring to Jude as “she”. Emmy was confused by that action. It was not confusing to me, that is the reality for trans teens. People you think are friends will actively misgender you. It made the book so much more realistic for me. Props to the author for either knowing that was shitty or doing her research on it.

There were scenes that made me physically uncomfortable. I am a transman and I remember the issues I had/have with my body. I hate being touched, even to this day because of the breasts I used to have. Jude explains that he has body issues and he actively talks about his boundaries when it comes to touch. Emmy as a straight and ciswoman doesn’t know basic trans manners, but is open to learning and she fumbles a lot. The fact that she is trying is so endearing. There is a scene where she actively describes feeling Jude’s breasts through his binder when they hug. It hit so close to home and my fears that people could tell what I was hiding. That Emmy thought it was appropriate to muse about Jude’s breasts was so painful, but so realistic.

I LOVE this book because it was so realistic and it didn’t beat me over the head with trans 101. I already know this and a lot of teens who will be reading the book are trans or know people that are. They don’t need the basics. I appreciate this book meeting me as an equal. Instead of “what is trans?” the author addresses “what is the appropriate way to interact with a trans person?”. There is even a whole section on asking about pronouns.

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5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book!

You can buy this book here.

~Isaiah

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