“Jason is sure his sister, Becca, was murdered, but he’s the only one who thinks so. After finding a photograph Becca kept hidden, he decides to infiltrate a boxing gym to prove that she didn’t die accidentally. As a transgender kid, Jason’s been fighting for as long as he can remember, and those skills are going to come in handy as he investigates. Quickly invited into the inner circle, Jason must balance newfound friendships with the burning hate that drives him. Jason soon feels torn between two worlds, determined to discover what happened to his sister but struggling with the fact that this is the first time he’s ever felt like he belonged somewhere.”
I got an ARC of this book.
There are AMAZING parts of this book. I am mostly going to focus on those, because they are so very, very important to me.
- The main character, Jason, is NEVER misgendered in the book. The characters never slip-up, especially the ones that know. There is a point in the book where Jason’s birth name/dead name/”old name” comes up. Another character, not revealed who, is the one who corrects the issue.
- Jason’s transition is only talked about when it matters. There is a scene where he talks about how being on the bus is difficult, because of the issues he used to face before he passed. There is talk about him binding and packing. There is talk about his hormones. His transition was not the point of the book. The plot was not JASON IS TRANS like so many cis authors would do.
- The author is trans. YES! You can tell a drastic difference when a cis author and when a trans author write a trans character. It is like when a male author writes a female author and it makes you cringe. Not every cis author is terrible at it, but I have yet to read any trans character from a trans author that is as bad as a trans character from a cis author. One day, it won’t matter, but for now I am going to celebrate that more trans people are being published and it makes me feel safer reading a book. I did not expect to be triggered or anything else negative. I could focus on if I liked the book or not, instead of how terrible I was feeling.
- There was NO and I repeat NO sexual assault or murder for the trans character. He had a hard life, but that was not because he was trans. Being trans was just one element of who he was. I am just so tired of the only plots available to trans characters being sexual assault or death.
- Jason was Jason. He was not perfect. He skipped school. He lied occasionally. He had anger issues. He was a trans teen. He was real. He was not the stereotypical trans teen (though I have seen one other teen like him in media). He was not ideal. He also wan’t a harmful representation of trans youth. He wasn’t a bad guy. He wasn’t problematic. He was just him. He could grow up to be amazing or he could grow up to be terrible, but he was allowed to grow up.
- The book is written in a way that I could get my kids (kids in the county jail that I teach sex ed to) to read it. They could identify with being in a group home. They could identify with the anger and the fights. They could identify with the police not being the most helpful when you need them. There is so much here that I could share with them. This would help take the pressure off of me as their, usually, only trans representation outside of a certain afternoon talk show.
4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.
You can buy the book here.