Author: Brie Spangler
Source: Local Library
Summary: To put it bluntly, Dylan is a beast. He's too tall, too hairy, too ugly for anybody to love. When he breaks both his legs in a freak accident and his mother starts to get worried that he's suicidal, he finds himself in a teen therapy group. It's there that he meets Jamie - beautiful, intelligent, intoxicating Jamie. And wonder of wonders, she seems to find him just as dazzling as he finds her, even as monstrous as he is.
But Dylan wasn't paying attention on the first day of therapy, when Jamie came out as trans to the group. When he learns this fact, and she learns that he was never as open and accepting as she thought he was, will their fledgling relationship survive?
First Impressions: I enjoyed this a lot but I really felt like she took him back way too fast after their arguments, and I wanted him to examine his transphobic attitudes more deeply.
Later On: While I was reading this, I mostly loved it. Jamie felt realistic, as did Dylan, and I really liked that they got a happy ending together, which is not as common as it should be in books with trans characters.
But my discomfort about Dylan's attitude built as we got nearer to the end and he showed no signs of truly examining where he was coming from in his attitude toward trangender people and how disrespectful it was of Jamie. There are a lot of transphobic "dude in a skirt" type comments, and his mother displays the same attitudes.
Admittedly, a lot of people are unthinkingly transphobic, especially if they've never met a trans person and never been asked to consider the harm that these attitudes inflict. It's not great, but showing a character examining, regretting, and changing their
behavior, as well as making reparations for the harm they've caused, can be a powerful story.
My problem was that Dylan never examined or reframed his attitudes, they just quietly faded away into a happy ending. For all of Dylan's angst about how people saw only the surface of his less-than-cover-model looks, he never quite figured out that it is just as hurtful to reduce Jamie to the genitalia she was born with.
Stuff You Missed in History Class - this is one of Dylan's favorite podcasts and gets mentioned here and there in connection with his ambition to become a history professor. I was thrilled because this has been on my listening list for years. If only he'd taken a listen to some of the transgender-focused episodes of their sister podcast, Stuff Mom Never Told You.