Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on June 18, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Cover Artist: Mia Nolting
My content rating: YA (Characters engage in sexual activity; Deals with themes of death and trauma)
For fans of Love, Simon and Eleanor and Park, a romantic and sweet novel about a transgender boy who falls in love for the first time—and how first love changes us all—from New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith.
Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.
A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.
But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.
The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.
But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?
A story of dealing with trauma and figuring out who you are after life has changed, this book has a powerful message of hope and healing.
What Fed My Addiction:
- Chris’s realistic family conflict. Chris’s mother has a hard time accepting Chris’s transition. For one thing, she has lots of fears about her son’s safety out in the world, especially after Chris was already attacked before he even came out as trans. I know lots of people are going to see the mom as a horrible person because she didn’t immediately embrace Chris’s transition. But I’m going to get real honest here and tell you that when my daughter came out to us as trans, it wasn’t simple, even if I wanted it to be. And people take different amounts of time to wrap their heads around a gender transition. It’s hard not to fear this world and want your kid to have the easiest time they can in life. And it’s hard to let go of the perceptions and misconceptions you have about your kid’s life and future that you didn’t even consciously know you’d formed until you realize they’re completely wrong. I had an easier time accepting this shift than my husband did, but I still probably made a million mistakes–parenting is hard! I thought this book very realistically portrayed the struggle that Chris’s parents had with his transition and the conflict that created between them and their son. But it also showed a family who loves each other and portrayed hope for understanding and reconciliation.
- Maia’s struggles with dealing with her sister’s death. Maia’s journey is as much a part of the story as Chris’s is. She hasn’t come to terms with her sister’s sudden death–she’s left with no sense of closure, especially since she and her sister hadn’t been on the best of terms when she died. This felt very realistic to me. I felt for Maia and understood why she had trouble grieving or moving on, and I also felt for her when she struggled with what she perceived as others’ expectations about how she should feel.
- The romance. I thought Maia and Chris were sweet together, and I loved that while they were each processing their own issues, they had each other. But the book wasn’t about love conquering all—they had to process those issues separately too, which was a message I appreciated.
- Chris’s aunt. And Maia’s complicated family. Okay, I have to throw out some love for Chris’s aunt, who I LOVED! And then Maia’s very messy family situation (divorced parents who still live in the same house) was a really interesting dynamic that intrigued me.
What Left Me Hungry for More:
- A terrible lie? The main conflict in Chris and Maia’s relationship ends up being a lie that Maia tells, but I’ll admit that I was a little confused about why the lie was such a big deal in the first place. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone lying to the person you’re in a relationship with, but I didn’t find this particular lie to be all that earth-shattering, and it wasn’t central to their relationship, so I had a hard time understanding Chris’s reaction to it.
- Some of the trans rep? I wasn’t sure how I felt about the fact that Chris came out as trans right after being attacked—it maybe sends a weird message that being attacked as a girl is what made Chris decide he was a boy? I don’t think that was the author’s intention and it’s certainly not stated that way, but I do think it’s an unfortunate correlation that could be made. Also, I was surprised that Chris completely passes 100% of the time. That seems perhaps a bit unrealistic.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, even with a few flaws. It’s wonderful to see transgender characters being represented. Chris’s story may not accurately reflect every trans person’s story (every story is very different), but I do think that this could definitely be a decent representation of someone’s story. I do recommend that you read this book alongside other similar books written by trans authors, though, to get a fuller picture.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Fantastic Flying Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About The Author
Amber Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of the young adult novels The Way I Used to Be, The Last to Let Go, and Something Like Gravity. An advocate for increased awareness of gendered violence, as well as LGBTQ equality, she writes in the hope that her books can help to foster change and spark dialogue surrounding these issues. She grew up in Buffalo, New York, and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her partner and their ever-growing family of rescued dogs and cats.
Prize: Win a copy of SOMETHING LIKE GRAVITY by Amber Smith (US Only)
It sounds like the characters have great dynamics going on in this book. I appreciate your insight into Chris’s parents’ situation. I agree it sounds like this book shows one possible experience for a transgender person but should be read alongside others.
Yes, I think it’s important to read widely when it comes to diversity.
I’ve read a lot of reviews for this one and everyone seems to be liking it for the most part.I appreciate that you could relate to parts of the story and found most of it realistic.
Glad to hear that people are enjoying this book!
I really appreciate your perspective on this as a parent, Nicole! The book sounds good, and I love the cover. I do get frustrated with the whole “lie that derails everything” storyline.
Yes, and in this case, the lie didn’t even seem that central to the relationship, so that was a little frustrating. Still, I thought the book had plenty of positives too.
Thanks for reviewing this! I’d already added it to my list a few days because I thought it sounded interesting.
Glad I could help support your decision to add this to your TBR! 🙂
I love the sound of all the family representation (in all its many forms) along with a realistic conflict within Chris’s own family. It’s so interesting to get your perspective as the parent of a trans child. There’s no handbook on the best of days so any parent is just dealing with what comes the best they can. Mistakes are going to be made. And the fact that Chris and Maia’s problems don;t magically disappear as they fall in love… thank you! Love is not a cure-all and oftentimes is just another complication. This really sounds like a worthy read.
Yes, if only we could find a handbook that told you the absolute best parenting practices in ALL circumstances. A manual that could never be wrong. Would be nice, right?
You know I love grief books, and I really appreciated your input regarding Chris’ mother.
Yes, this book definitely has a focus on processing grief in many forms.
Sounds like grief was a really great topic to explore the transgender experience. I appreciate your POV as a parent yourself. This was a really great book to get your more in depth perspective on Nicole! ❤️
Yes, I felt like this was one case where my personal connection to the book was appropriate to be highlighted because I wanted people to know why this aspect of the book really resonated with me.
I just added this to the list of books to order for my library. It sounds like a great book. This was an awesome review!
I’m so glad I could help you find a great book for your library!
I’ve read various reviews for this book and I have to say, yours has been the only one to completely captivate my attention and made me want to read this book. I definitely want to know more about Chris and his mom’s reaction and the aunt! Awesome review, Nicole! You killed it!
I’m glad I could introduce you to the book, then! I will say that the relationship between Chris and his mom aren’t the central plotline of the book, but it was the part that really resonated with me, and I loved that it was handled realistically.
I’ve seen some great reviews for this so far. It definitely looks like my kind of read! Wonderful review!
Hope you get a chance to read it!
This sounds like a great book and I’m glad you enjoyed. I’m actually really curious about the divorced parents living in the same home. That’s not a topic you come across often.
Yeah, you definitely don’t see that very often. Seems awkward at best.
Wonderful review and I loved your personal input into the family and their reactions..you need to see and understand all sides.
Thanks for the encouragement. Sometimes personal connections to a story can be important to share.
I think this is one I should add to my school library. Thanks for sharing this review!
I’m so glad!!
I felt better about Chris’ mom after their conversation. Like you said, she needed time to process the situation, and I feel like her reasons were valid. She had a strong relationship with a daughter, and needed time to form one with a son. She was worried about his safety, and the dynamics of their relationship. I didn’t like that she refused to talk to him on the phone though, that bothered me.
We’ve discussed the lie previously, but I do feel like it was blown out of proportion. Like you said, it had nothing to do with their actual relationship, and more of what Maia was struggling with on her own. I wish Chris had been more understanding, or at least willing to listen. I really hated how he chose to treat Maia afterwards. He should have been a better friend, in my opinion.
Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? ?
Yes, I was definitely worried that Chris’s mom was going to end up being one of those parents who just digs in her heels and refuses to acknowledge her son’s identity. I was happy with where the book went in the end, though.
Thanks for being honest in your review! I am glad you could vibe with and really understand the family conflict. To see it portrayed well in the book goes to show how carefully thought out it was. And yes, I can see how it can be hard on the parents as well as the child who came out! It sounds like this book good a job with it’s themes. But I think I would feel odd about the lie too! I might have to read this one… I don’t see a lot of books with trans rep come by regularly.
It’s nice to see more books about trans characters. I truly believe that books can be key in fostering empathy and understanding.
I had a great-uncle and great-aunt who were divorced but living together. Probably the less said the better, tbh!
It might be an idea to find reviews by transgender reviewers and see how they found the rep? I’ve found #OwnVoices reviews clear a lot of stuff up – not that a single review is a definitive stance, but if a book isn’t #OwnVoices for you, then #OwnVoices reviewers are likely to have more insight! 🙂
Yes, you are absolutely right. Unfortunately, I had a hard time finding #OwnVoices opinions—I searched for like an hour and came up with like one and a half (one actual opinion of the book where the reviewer had some issues and one trans reviewer who’d “heard that the rep was really good”). Not much to go on! Hopefully more reviews will be forthcoming. The last book I read with this issue was a manga, and I literally just handed it off to my daughter to get her perspective on it. It was a quick read so she didn’t mind being my sounding board, but I can’t do that with everything.
With this book, I did connect to part of the story as the mom of a trans daughter, so I wanted to point that out, but there were aspects of the book that made me slightly uncomfortable, so I definitely wanted to point those out as well and let people make a judgment for themselves. I always encourage people to read a wide variety of books about trans characters, of course, including lots of #OwnVoices books!!
I enjoyed reading Something Like Gravity. Amber Smith has a beautiful writing. I was conflicted with the story though as I was very uncomfortable with the scene where Maia sees Chris before his shower.
This is my first time reading a book with a trans character and I would love to read more own voices ones!
Yeah, that was a tough scene for me too. There were aspects of this book that I really appreciated and some I wasn’t sure about. That’s why I would definitely encourage people to read plenty of Own Voices stories too.