Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Age Level: Young Adult
Pages: 305 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.
Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?
When I was first invited to be part of this tour, I jumped at the chance because I love me a good retelling. Diversify it with the LGBTQ community and I knew I'd enjoy this book. Happily, I admit that I am very well satisfied.
What makes this book is the characterization. Let's start with Dylan. Dylan is a very intelligent young man that is abnormally large--so large that he may have gigantism. He's the school thug, rattling people who steal money from his best friend, who he's really only friends with because of the popularity that comes with it. Girls aren't interested in him because he's hairy and a bit scary, and he refuses to bow to stereotypes people like him are put into--like playing football (even though he secretly loves it). When he falls off his roof and breaks his leg, causing people to think he may have been attempting to take his own life, he is put into group therapy where he meets Jamie.
Jamie is trans, though Dylan doesn't realize it for a long time. She enjoys taking pictures and finding the beauty in everything. She will always stand up for herself, even if those around her do not support her, and she just wants to be loved for who she is. Jamie is a beautiful character that is aware of the realities of being trans, but does not allow them to ruin the life that she is choosing to live.
Dylan and Jamie embark on a very sweet romance that is quickly brought to a standstill when Dylan realizes Jamie is trans. He freaks out, and even seems slightly disgusted because he was so surprising. It was a terrible response, but it seemed natural. The beauty of their relationship is that Dylan respects Jamie as a person so much he grows to just accept Jamie as female and comes to terms with the fact that he is just a boy that likes a girl. This is something I respect so much.
Along the way there is the exploration of crappy best friends--I am choosing not to go into a lot of detail because I hated Dylan's best friend and could rant about it for days. Transphobia, bullying, peer pressure, and learning to love yourself are also themes explored in the novel. It's all around really solid and enjoyable, my one complaint being that, at times, it seemed a bit too childish for high school students.
Read this Beauty and the Beast retelling featuring a transgender main character. It is utterly enjoyable with endearing characters I want only the best for.
FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.