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)