Publishers Weekly Review
Picture book creator Spangler (Peg Leg Peke) turns to an older audience with a thought-provoking novel about two shunned teens who struggle to make sense of the world and themselves. At nearly six foot four and covered with hair, 15-year-old Dylan Ingvarsson has been nicknamed the Beast, but he doesn't feel like one. Mostly, he leads a quiet life, earning top grades in his class and supporting his widowed mother. When Dylan breaks his leg falling off a roof, perhaps not entirely accidentally, and ends up in therapy for self-harmers, he meets an intriguing girl named Jamie, a talented photographer, who seems to like Dylan for who he is. For the first time, Dylan finds himself falling in love, but then he learns something he missed while he was zoning out in therapy: Jamie is trans. Sharply drawn relationships and true-to-life dialogue make Dylan's interactions with Jamie, his mother, and his friends feel breathtakingly real. Spangler's captivating portrayals of Dylan and Jamie offer piercing insight into the long, painful battle to shatter stereotypes in order to win dignity, love, and acceptance. Ages 12-up. Agent: Mackenzie Brady, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-A coming-of-age tale where the main character's physical growth unfortunately outpaces his emotional development. Fifteen-year-old Dylan is incredibly self-conscious about his size (6'4" and still growing), his hairiness (he's had to shave since sixth grade), his ugly face (which he hides with his long hair and hat), and his unflattering nicknames (Beast, Sasquatch, Caveman). On the day his school bans long hair and hats, he happens to fall off his roof and break his leg. This lands him in group therapy for self-harmers, and at the one therapy session he attends, he meets love interest Jamie. Dylan isn't listening when Jamie reveals that she is transgender, and the relationship predictably suffers because of this miscommunication. Despite this, the romance between Dylan and Jamie is this book's best aspect. At first, Jamie seems to embody the manic pixie dream girl trope, but she does evolve into a fully realized character. There is some transphobia exhibited by Dylan and by tertiary characters, but this is the area where Dylan shows the most character development, while not becoming magically perfect in all of his reactions. However, Dylan's self-esteem issues are increasingly ignored as the romance blossoms, violent tendencies and self-harming behaviors are glossed over, and a major breach of trust between Dylan and his mother is treated as a mere plot point instead of having genuine emotional consequences. VERDICT An ambitious YA romance that doesn't reach its full potential but that may find fans among realistic fiction readers.-Kacy Helwick, New Orleans Public Library © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.