Author: Nina Rossing
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Fifteen-year-old Mick Mullins has a great life: his parents are sweet, his sister is tolerable, and his friendships are solid. But as summer descends on Queens, he prepares to turn his carefree existence upside down by disclosing a secret he has kept long enough. It’s time to work up the courage to reveal that he is not a boy, but a girl—and that her name is Michelle. Having always been the perfect, good boy, Michelle is terrified that the complicated truth will disappoint, hurt, or push away the people closest to her. She can’t continue hiding for much longer, though, because her body is turning into that of a man’s, and she is desperate to stop the development—desperate enough to consider self-medicating with hormones.
Most of all, Michelle fears that Grandpa, who is in a nursing home after a near fatal stroke, won’t survive the shock if he finds out that his favorite grandchild, and the only boy, is a girl. If she kills her beloved Grandpa by leaving Mick behind, she isn’t sure embracing her real identity will be worth the loss.
Keeping secrets doesn’t come easy to rule abiding Mick Mullins, whose greatest dream next to becoming a cop is to come out to the world as the girls she knows she is. But there’s always a reason to put off telling her family and friends, always some tragedy or drama to distract her from rocking the boat for the first time in her life. But now her body is changing in ways she doesn’t think she can survive, and she knows she needs to act fast to stop these things from happening no matter how much it scares her. Getting a crush on an unreachable bad boy does not make things any easier, and as summer goes on Michelle keeps putting off the inevitable. Hopefully when she bites the bullet summer will have a happy ending.
This was a breathtaking and beautiful book and it’s my favorite coming of age story since Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. You could really feel Michelle’s emotions and her thoughts came through crystal clear. I cried when things were going badly for her and I cried tears of happiness when things went well. Michelle’s story is a brutally honest take on what it’s like to be a transgender teen, while still maintaining an optimistic and hopeful outlook. I adored Michelle, and I loved reading her story and seeing how she dealt with the various hurdles thrown her way. I also loved her fun, kind, and hilarious family. They were all distinct and enjoyable characters, from rule breaking Ash to their hopelessly in love cop parents to bed ridden but still lively Grandpa. All the characters, good and bad, jumped off the page and felt real to me. The story was honest and had exactly the right amount of complexity to properly show how there always seemed to be a reason for Michelle to wait to come out without distracting from Michelle’s main struggle of coming out.
If I had to pick a weak point of this book, it would be that sometimes facts would be revealed late in the book out of nowhere in awkward ways. For example, the fact that Ash and Michelle were conceived through in vitro was brought up late in book and then mentioned several times after in a way that felt a little odd. However, this is a tiny nitpick that did not stop me from enjoying the book in the least. Otherwise, I just wanted more! I’d love nothing more than a sequel exploring the next steps in Michelle’s transition.
I highly recommend this book. It was an amazing exploration of what it’s like to be a trans teen and it gave honest and ultimately hopeful answers to what coming out is like. An absolute must read.