Monday, October 1, 2012
Me on Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
Author: Kirstin Cronn-Mills
Release Date: October 8, 2012
Gabe has always identified as a boy, but he was born with a girl's body. With his new public access radio show growing in popularity, Gabe struggles with romance, friendship, and his parents, all while trying to come out as transgendered. An audition for a radio station in Minneapolis looks like a ticket to a better life in the big city, but his entire future is threatened when some people find out that Gabe the DJ is also Elizabeth from school.
At times humourous, honest, and complicated in the way only life as a teenager can be, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is a glimpse into Gabe's life as he's transitioning from Elizabeth to Gabe near the end of high school, a look into his life, his hopes and dreams, his pain and struggles.
What I loved about this book is its raw honesty. Who we are when the world sees us, who we are on the inside, who we want to be, who we see when we look in the mirror, they're all different. When you're a teenager, you're figuring out who you are, questioning your life up until that moment, questioning what you're working towards, questioning how your body doesn't look the way you want it to, and some even question their gender.
Gabe is wonderful. I like calling him Gabe because he's Gabe. When we meet him at the beginning of the book, there are little pieces of Elizabeth, but there's mostly Gabe. Of course, there will always be the little pieces of Elizabeth in Gabe. He deals with so much in the book, the trials and tribulations of high school, keeping Gabe a secret apart from his best friend Paige (who he has a crush on) and his family (who can't accept Gabe because all they see is Elizabeth). The only time Gabe can be himself is that one hour a week in the middle of the night at a community radio station talking about something universal: music. I loved how he was one of those music geeks who appreciates music and its message while being unable to play an instrument.
But then there are the times when Gabe would hide, like he wanted to be open with the world but not in front of people who knew him as Elizabeth because he feared the backlash. The way people can turn on each other because of differences and opinions is terrible. No one in the entire world is exactly alike, so why does it bring out the worst in people when our differences are exposed?
People, like records, have their A sides and their B sides. The side the world sees, and the side you are on the inside. Lots of people have their different sides. What's important to remember is this book is about Gabe and his different sides, Gabe the human being who deserves to be the person he wants to be and not the person his family or his friends or the whole world want him to be. It's all about Gabe, and he just happens to be transitioning from being a girl to being a guy.
I read YA because of books like this. New worlds, new viewpoints, new characters. It's not always a completely accurate representation of real life, but it's as close as the author can make it. I can only imagine the confusion and the struggles of teens like Gabe not just in the US but all over the world, but there are also good moments. There are the friends and the family members that keep supporting them, laughing with them, loving them. Everyone has their A side and their B side, and whichever you choose to live, live it the best way that you can.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Flux through NetGalley.)