Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Me on The Handsome Girl & Her Beautiful Boy

Title: The Handsome Girl & Her Beautiful Boy
Author: B.T. Gottfred
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan imprint)

Everyone assumes that Zee is a lesbian. Her classmates, her gym buddies, even her so-called best friend. So many people think that Zee likes girls, even Zee is starting to wonder. Could they be onto something? Everyone assumes that Art is gay. They take one look at his nice clothes and his pretty face and think: well, obviously. But there's more to Zee and Art than anyone realizes. When Art first meets Zee, he knows he's found someone special--someone magical. Zee may not be able to see that magic in herself, but Art is bound and determined to show it to her. What develops is a powerful connection between two people who are beautiful in all the ways they've been told are strange. As they explore their own complexities in gender, sexuality, and identity, they fall for the complexities they find in each other.

The Handsome Girl & Her Beautiful Boy is bold and eye-opening, an honest and personal look into the lives and problems and relationships of two teens who aren't too interested in how other people define them. But when it comes to their own relationship, their own connection, they struggle to define it in a way that makes sense with what both of them want.

Zee likes sports, likes CrossFit, likes hanging out with her best friend who's a guy. Because she isn't like other girls, because she doesn't wear dresses or make-up, most people around her assume she's a lesbian. But she isn't. Art is boisterous and flamboyant, he's chatty and kind and has an eye for nice clothes. Everyone assumes he's gay, that he's lying when he says he isn't. When Art meets Zee, he feels that he's finally found someone who understands, someone who's amazing. It's love at first sight for him. But Zee isn't so sure that she feels the same.

This is a very interesting, very curious, very frank and open book when it comes to teens questioning their sexuality and gender and experimenting. But this is just one story. No two teens are the same, in reality or in fiction. There's no one right way to figure out who you are, no right way to be, and this is Zee and Art figuring that out. This is a hard book to describe, it full of hard moments and gushing texts and exploration and teens having sex (because teens do and will have sex). It's honest and unapologetic and sometimes uncomfortable, but then again so is life. So is being a teen asking questions and figuring things out.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

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