Tag Archives: transgender

Book Review: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Felix Ever After     

Author: Kacen Callender

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

American release date:  May 5, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/YA LGBT Romance/368 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

To say Felix Love’s life is complicated would be an understatement. He lives with his father in Harlem, his mother having walked out on them years before to start a new family. His father has sacrificed a lot to provide for Felix, including his tuition at St. Catherine’s and the summer arts program, as well as his top surgery—Felix is transgendered. While his father is supportive of that, for some reason he finds it difficult to use Felix’s name, and often just calls him kid.

Felix’s best friend for years is Ezra. The two of them are thick as thieves and do everything together. Ezra comes from privilege. His parents have bought him his own apartment, and Felix often sleeps over there. One day, Felix’s world is shattered when he walks through the gallery at school only to find photos of his old self hanging there, framed and displayed for everyone to see, as well as his dead name. Felix is beyond mortified as the faithful Ezra removes the evidence of someone’s dastardly deed. Who could be so cruel, and why?

Felix is working hard on his art, wanting to be accepted at the prestigious Brown University, hopefully on a full scholarship. Those are far and few between, and another student at St. Cat’s, a guy named Declan who once dated Ezra, is also planning to go there and snag the full ride too. Felix doesn’t think it’s fair because Declan comes from money. Plus he’s obnoxious and full of himself.

Felix writes emails to his mother, but he never sends them. He hasn’t heard from her since he told her he was transgendered, years before. The emails sit in his draft folders… all 476 of them. Someday maybe he’ll actually hit send on all of them and flood her inbox. Felix can’t help but wonder why she doesn’t love him anymore?. And why can’t he find a special someone, as his peers have? Even Ezra is dating someone, a guy named Austin, and seems happy. Why can’t Felix find love? Is he so unloveable?

When Felix becomes convinced that Declan is responsible for the gallery fiasco, he determines to find out for sure—even if he has to catfish him to do it.

This book was recommended to me by my daughter, and I devoured it in like two days, it was so good. I loved Felix so much, and I ached for him as he questioned his life, his art, his identity… not unusual for a teen, but even harder for a trans teen. I think it’s great that we’re seeing more books with trans characters, someone other trans people can identify with. But even more so, I think books like this help other people come to an understanding of what it means to be trans. For many people, it’s a new and alien concept. Sure, trans people have always been around, but the discussion has never been so open as it is now. I think books like this one are important in gaining a better understanding of other people. Diversity is something to be celebrated, not feared. What a boring world if we all thought and did the same things and if we all looked alike.

I hope to see more from this talented author and highly recommend this book for anyone, especially romantics.

Book Review: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Cemetery Boys       

Author: Aiden Thomas

Publisher: Swoon Reads

American release date:  September 1, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/YA LGBT Romance/352 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

All his life, Yadriel has yearned to be recognized for what he is—a brujo. His family has been brujx for generations, practitioners of magic, able to commune with the dead and help ease them into the next life. But his family doesn’t see him that way, and he has been denied his quinces, essential to his recognition as a brujo. Much of the time, they don’t see him as a boy, either, which is frustrating. Yadriel is transgender, and he only wishes to be accepted for who he is. Is that so much to ask?

His best friend, Maritza, fashions him his own blade—a portaje. This is his conduit to the world of magic. Maritza has one of her own, in the form of a rosary. Denied his rite of passage by his family, he and Maritza decide to hold one of their own, in the old church in the cemetery where Yadriel’s family live.

The ceremony is successful but something decidedly unexpected occurs—one of their own, his cousin Miguel, has died, and all the brujx can feel it. But no one can find his body, which is troubling in and of itself. Yadriel returns home to see what is happening and learns of the search for Miguel. He wishes to accompany the other brujos but his request is denied by his father. If only his mother were here. She understood Yadriel and accepted him for who he is, without question or reservation.

Yadriel and Maritza decide to search for Miguel on their own. And that is when the next strange occurrence happens, in the form of an unexpected spirit by the name of Julian. Loud, unruly, and energetic, Julian is a force to be reckoned with. And he is about to turn Yadriel’s world upside down.

This book is a treasure!  A fascinating glimpse, not only into the world of brujx and Dio de los Muertos, but also transgendered teens as well. There aren’t many books with transgendered protagonists. Yadriel is wonderful as he tries to navigate the hazards of living among people who don’t understand and can’t see him for who he is. It must be hard when your own family denies you, and because of that you can’t even participate in the same rituals the others do. Yadriel’s own uncle, Catriz, is left out of things as well, not having enough spirituality, apparently, to be considered one of them. Together, uncle and nephew are the family outcasts, the black sheep.

Yadriel’s best friend Maritza is spunky and spirited, and understand Yads, as she calls him, better than anyone. She makes him a portaje, forges it herself despite not being encouraged to do such things because of her gender. But the one who steals the show starting from his first appearance is Julian Diaz, aka the ghost with the most. He is difficult at times and extremely stubborn, but there is just something about him that Yadriel can’t resist. Plus Julian accepts Yadriel immediately, no questions asked.

If Yadriel can release Julian’s spirit, he can prove to his family that he is indeed a brujo. But before Julian agrees to this, he has conditions of his own that Yadriel has to meet. Carrying these out won’t be easy.

This book is full of fun and flavor and wonderful characters. It made me laugh and it definitely made me cry. It was recommended to me by my daughter and I was so happy she did. I got it from the library, but I ordered my own copy now, to add to my library. I can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s a supernatural story, it’s a romance, it’s a mystery, it’s a coming-of-age story, but most of all it’s a book about people just trying to live their lives.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to read.