The Art Of Getting Stared At

cover artLaura Langston’s novel The Art Of Getting Stared At is a heartfelt character story. It explores the opposing pressures women face. Sloane has a step mother who wants her to focus more on her appearance and a mother who thinks that putting any effort into beauty makes you shallow. Both women are judgmental, and make assumptions based on appearances. Sloane has to learn for herself that taking pride in how she looks is ok but she can’t let her image define her or distract her from her more meaningful endeavors. This struggle becomes urgent when discovers she has an illness that causes her to lose her hair. She doesn’t want to care about how people see her, but this change in her appearance makes her very self-conscious and shakes her confidence in other areas of her life.

With an emotional story that will have teens examining their priorities, this novel has compelling characters and excellent writing.

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A Boy Like Me

Jennie Wood’s novel A Boy Like Me is a coming of age story focused on a transgender character. The character development was phenomenal. Peyton/Katherine is a well rounded protagonist who’s story will touch the hearts of readers. Supporting characters are well written as well. The uncle was my favourite. While the main story-line focuses on his feelings for Tara and his discomfort within his female body, there is more going on. There are stories of friendship, of family dynamics, of depression, of bullying… I had a lot of issues with another book about gender identity recently (When Everything Feels Like the Movies) but I feel like all the the things that made me uncomfortable in that story were played out in a much healthier, more relate-able and more empathy inspiring way in this novel.

The chemistry between Peyton and Tara felt real. Wood did a fantastic job of writing about the sexual tension. She includes some mature scenes that make this book better suited to older teens, but she does it in a way that’s tastefully sexy rather than crude.

Heavy, emotional, perhaps controversial, subject matter is included in this novel. I think that it’s great she includes resources at the end, for readers who may be going through what Peyton is in the book.

I’m glad that I read this novel because I think it gives me a better understanding of transgender teens and gives me a resource to point to if someone is looking for a good book on the subject.