Looking for fiction with fantastic ace and trans representation? Here are three mini-reviews of #ownvoices titles I recently read and enjoyed.
This short novel (173 pages) has a super cool premise: What is it like for children to return to the normal world after spending a significant amount of time in a magical world? If they are unable to reintegrate, they are sent to “Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.” Every Heart a Doorway has a creepy nonchalance about it, a semi-predictable murder mystery, and a little horror (if you get queasy easily, consider yourself warned). It feels like magical realism a lot of times, so I was hooked. The main character is ace, and there’s a trans secondary character who plays a significant role in the story―and avoids all the tired tropes you get with trans characters. Fantastic rep, fun read, and a second book is coming in June!
This is a gentle, sweet novella (65 pages) featuring independent women and themes of wanderlust and ennui, bigotry, love, loss, and learning to move forward. Clara is an AI technician who grew up in a migrant worker family and is constantly moving from place to place. Sal is a fully autonomous android who was created long before laws were passed to make it illegal to create others like her. For me, Sal’s memories and experiences were the highlight of the book. They parallel the same kinds of things a lot of marginalized people face in our world: bigotry and hate crimes, difficulties getting a job, attacks on personhood coming from both the government and individuals. There’s quite a bit to think about, packed into so few pages. I really loved the overall feel of this story and felt attached to the characters; I hated for the story to end.
You guys! I’ve never, ever been into superhero comics, books, movies, or TV shows, but I was SO into this coming-of-age novel, which features a 15-year-old lesbian trans girl protagonist. Dreadnought is an exciting story with a healthy dose of humor. However, it also thoughtfully tackles some very serious issues, most notably, toxic/abusive family dynamics that too many trans kids have to deal with once they decide to transition. We need more books like this! This is the kind of story that creates empathetic readers: Yes, it’s entertaining and funny, but it’s also heartwrenching, thoughtful, and empowering.