Ciel by Sophie Labelle

Ciel is a character-driven, slice-of-life, coming-of-age novel featuring a gender nonconforming trans kid named Ciel as they start their first year of high school in Montreal. For my fellow American readers (I had to google this myself), that covers ages 12-17. Ciel and their friends are on the lower end of that age range, so this is solidly a middle grade novel. Kids will relate to the excitement and anxieties that come with being in a new school, making new friends, having crushes, further exploring one's own identity, and having the courage to be themselves. Ciel's inner dialogue will resonate really well with tweens and young teens. Best of all, trans and nonbinary kids get to see themselves in a…

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Raising Them by Kyl Myers

In Raising Them, sociologist Kyl Myers shares how they and their husband Brent are raising their first child, Zoomer, without gender boundaries; with complete freedom to determine their own gender. Zoomer is still quite young, so the book doesn't go beyond the preschool years. And although this is a memoir, not a how-to book, Myers is clear and detailed about the thought processes that led to each decision they made along the way. Myers argues that working toward gender equality must start in childhood, by breaking down assumptions and boundaries when it comes to appearance, toys, activities, etc. This takes a lot of work, because the gender binary is pushed everywhere, even in situations where it shouldn't even be a…

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Tranny by Laura Jane Grace

I wasn't familiar with Against Me!'s music going into this memoir, but I truly enjoyed Laura Jane Grace's memoir Tranny. The narrative was interspersed with journal entries, the writing style held my attention and interest, and I appreciated her openness about her experiences as well as her own shortcomings. It was eye-opening to read about anarchism within punk, how some really tried their best to live out their philosophical beliefs, but others claimed the label for optics without actually subscribing to that philosophy at all. I had assumed that most of punk musicians and fans shared a deep belief in living out anarchist principles, so this surprised me. It was also interesting to read about punk's fraught relationship with major…

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Mini Reviews: Transathon Wrap-Up

All of July was Transathon, hosted by Ocean over on Twitter. This event was about reading and enjoying books by transgender and non-binary authors. I do this year-round, but it was the perfect opportunity to focus solely on my huge list of books by not-cis authors I've been meaning to get to. I ended up reading a total of 9 books for Transathon! I've already posted about Homesick by Nino Cipri (review here) and Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe (review here), but here are mini reviews for the 7 other titles I read during this event: Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel Lavery A memoir rooted in faith, literary classics, pop culture, and the author's experiences being…

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Homesick by Nino Cipri

I love speculative, fabulist fiction, and Nino Cipri's short story collection Homesick delivered. The formats of some of these stories were so creative. "Which Super Little Dead Girl Are You" is written as a quiz. "Dead Air" is an epistolary short story, using recordings, and whoa was it ever creepy! In "Before We Disperse Likestar Stuff," speculative elements served as a backdrop to give us a taste of Cipri's talent for writing character-driven stories. Homesick put me in awe of the breadth of their imagination. I really enjoyed this collection, just as much as I loved their novel Finna.

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Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Gender Queer is a graphic memoir that follows the author as e questions eir gender and sexual identities (nonbinary and asexual). It's important to remember this is one individual's story, but its greatest strength is how Kobabe differentiates between cis people who resist gender expectations and how a person comes to understand they are nonbinary. There were a couple spots that I recognized as normal parts of this journey, but I wish these moments were fleshed out a bit more. My fear is that cis readers who don't have the knowledge to fill in the blanks might miss the overall point and be tempted to medicalize gender identity. Kobabe is very open about the many questions e had along the…

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Non-Binary Lives edited by Jos Twist, Ben Vincent, Meg-John Barker, and Kat Gupta

Non-Binary Lives is a diverse collection of personal narratives that encompasses a huge variety of perspectives, reminding readers that there are endless ways to be non-binary. There are so many identities and intersections in this book: age (including coming out at different ages), health, neurodiversity, sexuality, body size, family size (including pregnancy and parenthood), gender identity, gender assigned at birth, race, nationality, class, faith. I especially loved Fred Langridge's essay "Non-Binary Experience in a Liberal Faith Community," about being a member of the Quaker community. And Lucy/Luc Nicholas's essay "Am I Allowed To Be Non-Binary, Too?" hit me right in the gut. Cis readers will learn a great deal from this collection. There are some surprising perspectives in here, and…

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Good Boy by Jennifer Finney Boylan

It's no secret that I love Jennifer Finney Boylan's writing, fiction and nonfiction alike. Her phrasing is beautiful and engaging, making it oh-so-difficult to put down her books. I read her latest memoir, Good Boy, in less than a day. What a lovely premise, to set up a memoir organized by the dogs in one's life. And Boylan's dogs were chock full of personality! Her descriptions are incredibly vivid, whether she's flipping an omelet or describing Matt the Mutt (I'm still laughing at that dog's antics!) knock down a guacamole-carrying visitor. I could seriously listen to her stories all day long. Anyone with pets knows that the animals in our lives can teach us a great deal about ourselves, and…

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Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

The town of Lucille is essentially a utopia. Its older citizens have done some hard, difficult work. Justice is restorative, not punitive. There's a deep sense of community, of caring for each other as if they're all family, of getting to the root of problems and working them out. The community emphasizes free access to knowledge and the importance of public spaces like libraries. But Lucille is also a reminder that when we think we've figured things out, we must stay vigilant; complacency makes us unable and/or unwilling to acknowledge that injustices continue to occur. The characters in Pet are wonderfully diverse without their diversity being a plot point. And Jam and Redemption's friendship is the most loving, beautifully written…

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Finna by Nino Cipri

FINNA is a fun, anti-capitalist, wonderfully queer, light sci-fi adventure novella and I'm all about it. It's like NBC's Superstore meets Grady Hendrix's Horrorstör, but FINNA has its own unique style. You've got wormholes and multiverses, danger and discovery, humor and heart. I would have been thrilled to read a slightly longer book that fleshed out the characters a little bit more, but this shorter format worked great, too. I raced through this book right along with Jules and Ava, and I'm rushing off to read Nino Cipri's short story collection Homesick ASAP.

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