Fifteen-year-old Mick Mullins has a great life: his parents are sweet, his sister is tolerable, and his friendships are solid. But as summer descends on Queens, he prepares to turn his carefree existence upside down by disclosing a secret he has kept long enough. It’s time to work up the courage to reveal that he is not a boy, but a girl—and that her name is Michelle. Having always been the perfect, good boy, Michelle is terrified that the complicated truth will disappoint, hurt, or push away the people closest to her. She can’t continue hiding for much longer, though, because her body is turning into that of a man’s, and she is desperate to stop the development—desperate enough to consider self-medicating with hormones.
Most of all, Michelle fears that Grandpa, who is in a nursing home after a near fatal stroke, won’t survive the shock if he finds out that his favorite grandchild, and the only boy, is a girl. If she kills her beloved Grandpa by leaving Mick behind, she isn’t sure embracing her real identity will be worth the loss.
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Overall Rating: 8/10 stars
Matt’s Review: 4/5 Stars
I’m a little conflicted on this one.
On the one hand, it’s a lovely story that doesn’t fall into the usual awful tropes that trans realisation and coming out stories adhere to like it’s a god-given rule. It isn’t all doom and gloom, there is a good mix of stereotype and individuality to create a very believable situation, and — for the most part — the rep is quite good. The early stages especially, where Michelle is unpicking her own gender bias, sorting out her own thoughts, the confusion and the attempts to find herself in the myriad of all-too-often inaccessible online rhetoric…they were great. I really sank into this story and enjoyed the experience of reading it, so automatically I’m dishing out a lot of stars because that ultimately is what I want a book to do for me.
But on the other hand…
I don’t know. For me, it dragged on too long and it started to unravel after she started to come out. There was a big emphasis on forgiving people when they’re dicks to you, and not only do I not agree this is something we need to teach trans kids who are already vulnerable, but it was very cis-centred. There’s a difference between shocked and trying, and shocked and being a prick about it. And I don’t think this book quite hit the mark.
Honestly, Michelle was a bit too…adult. And I don’t mean in being the responsible one, being the good one, wanting to be a cop (I actually really liked these bits) but in how she dealt with these huge upheavals. Her best friend calls her a bitch and a traitor, and Michelle lets her say her piece. She makes excuses for Gabriel in pushing her out of a window. And I’m not down with this at all. She had all this fire in getting her sister to help her get hormones, but where was it when these things happened?
Ultimately, despite some lovely elements and some very refreshing departures from the norm, this book still felt to me like it was pushing an agenda of forgiving the people who hurt us, and towards the end, prioritising their shock over our identities. But I don’t know. This may just be me, tired beyond belief of the duty on trans people to constantly forgive and forget.
So despite my misgivings and discomfort when I actually sat down to review it…actually, yeah, four stars. Because I think this is me, and I think if I’d read this maybe a year ago, I wouldn’t have the same problems. Maybe for you, it’ll be everything you need.
Laura’s Review: 4/5 Stars
I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I started reading this book; I don’t think I’d even read the blurb before I bought it. But I’m so glad I did buy and read it! I liked it, very much. This is told in a first person POV, present tense. That’s usually hit or miss for me, because it can get rankling pretty quickly, but it was definitely a hit here.
I’m going to refer to the MC as Michelle during my review, because that’s who she is, even though we know her as Mick for a bit of the book. Michelle is a teenager – she turns 16 in the book – and being in her head… It really felt as if we were listening to a very real, flesh and blood teenager.
I had no problem empathising with Michelle and feeling everything she was feeling. I laughed with her, cried with her, and my heart melted with her family’s reactions to her coming out. I think that coming out was beautifully done, and I adored Michelle’s family. Her older sister and her parents were amazing, but at the same time completely real. I wish every trans person had this kind of support in their lives. I long for that day.
There was one thing, though. There was very little Spanish in this book – Michelle’s best friends are Dominican – and some of it jumped out at me. Now, Spanish is not an universal language and I’m aware expressions change from country to country, but I asked on Twitter and everyone confirmed what I thought. No Spanish speaking person would use “Jesús Cristo” as an expression; it’s a direct translation of the English expression and it just feels wrong.
Even so, I would totally recommend this book, it’s a lovely tale of coming into yourself and coming out.