Miriam Newman YA Lit Young Adult Literature Transgender

Matthew’s American cousin, Sam, has come to live with Matthew and his parents in London. He’s unruly and obnoxious, glorifies violence and gets Matthew and his friends into fairly big trouble. They, naturally, want nothing more to do with Sam; but with his mother recently dead and his father – to the best of his knowledge – still in jail, Sam really doesn’t want to be alone in his new school in a new country. The solution? Sam will prove his loyalty to Matthew and his friends. How? by passing himself off as a girl for the first week of school.

Oh yes, boys, this is a great solution. Nothing could possibly go wrong!

Man, teenagers are dumb. But at least they’re dumb in interesting ways.

Boy2Girl resists coming to neat, easy conclusions about gender roles, which I appreciate. As Sam’s living in a genderqueer space, Sam becomes less standoffish and more open, but maintains a fierce determination and still refuses to take shit from anyone – not the schoolyard bully nor the schoolyard hunk. Even as Sam is softening, the girls Sam befriends become somewhat more aggressive and loosen up a bit. Basically, Sam pulls everyone nearby a little further from the stereotyped gender roles and a little closer to the center. (And what’s between Mars and Venus? Earth! (and an asteroid belt.)) It’s idealized and the deus ex puberty is rather over the top – actually, the last third of the book is rather over the top – but it’s refreshing to read something that’s light and fluffy but doesn’t take gender entirely for granted.

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