At 15, Elle isn't old enough to be on her own, but her mother's boyfriend doesn't want her around. Rather than being a good mom and telling the boyfriend to take a hike, Elle's mom rents an apartment across town for her to live in. In defiance, Elle chops off her hair and heads to her new high school looking a bit worse for the wear. She also chooses the ugliest cat she could find at the pound to irritate her beauty-obsessed mother. Toto is scraggly and only has one eye, but Elle grows to love him.
Her neighbor Frank helps her with her unpacking, and Elle develops a bit of a crush on him. Then she finds out he has a partner, Molly, but the crush endures. When Molly goes to her locker at school, someone has scrawled the word "QUEER" across it (probably due to her chopped off hair), and that lets her know that she will probably not be making many new friends. She does, however, end up getting to know a group of LGBT kids, and, while she's not certain exactly how she feels about them, they take her in with open arms. At a get-together at Elle's apartment, her new friends tell her that they think Frank is transgender, and Elle is flabbergasted at even the thought, especially since she's crushing so much on him. If he's transgender, what does that say about HER, especially since all of her new friends have varying sexual identities?
This novel is brilliant; I love Ms. Hyde's writing style. She totally gets into the mind of a teenager who is going through a heck of a lot. Knowing that your mother prefers being with her boyfriend over taking care of you would throw anyone into a tailspin, and finding yourself seriously crushing on someone who is or was a woman at the same time?
This book is not about sexual identity, although that theme runs through the book. It's about friendship, and acceptance, and knowing that being different isn't a bad thing. There is a lot of punch packed into this short novel, and I would highly recommend it to any reader, not just YA readers. I really loved it, and I'm passing it on to my Not-So-Bebe-Girl Autumn, who I think will love it too.
I took it kind of hard. Hearing that he wasn't around much. But then again, I don't have tons and tons of friends. And only one ever offered to look after me. Even my mother isn't entirely committed to that.
I didn't want to look at him. Because I didn't want to do that thing. That obvious thing. Where you look at him in a whole new light. Use the new information to look at him and see something entirely different. I didn't care to try on any new views of Frank.
It struck me suddenly how utterly ridiculous it is to ever think you know anybody. Or to ever think you've found anybody you can love.
Because you don't know anybody.
Especially when you haven't even known them all that long. But, really, not even when you've known them all your life. I never thought my mother would trade me for some dork named Donald. And I sure as hell never thought Frank was anything other than a guy.
Writing: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Characters: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion: 5 out 5 stars
BOOK RATING: 4.5 out of 5 starsshow more
by Julie Smith