Source: ARC via Publisher
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Rating: 3/5 stars
All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth--that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.
Purchase:Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I don't really know where to start with this one, to be quite honest. There was nothing about this that was really bad and I think there are a lot of people who will benefit from this one, but I just found myself not fully getting into it and I can't really explain why. This is definitely a great addition to the LGBTQ+ YA canon and one that some people will relate to.
I think most of my issues with this one stem from the writing. Because it took me what felt like ages to finish this one when in reality I should have been flying through it. I felt like there was too much expose in this and while I appreciated that there wasn't double dialogue (i.e. once in Portuguese and again in English), I thought Pen saying "and then they said this" really pulled me out of being in the story and made me realize that I was a reader. I really like when I can immerse myself into the story and feel like a shadow watching the characters, but that wasn't really the case here. That's the reason I'm rating it lower.
Otherwise! So good! Healthy f/f relationship the whole way through that was sexual but no tragedy. Healthy female friendships where the straight girl and the lesbian were just cool with being friends because they didn't see each other as more than friends! A female protagonist allowed to be upset and explore her gender and identity and her friends didn't make her feel bad for it! Parents learning but children not having to forgive them for making them feel like shit! And this was all about the choices we make and how they weigh on us! And no slut shaming!!!! Literally so much goodness. I just wish the writing had been a bit more engaging.
This is a great butch lesbian book that I think a LOT of people will enjoy and need to read. I enjoyed EVERYTHING about this one, the plot, the setting, the characters, the conflict, all of it -- I just couldn't get into the writing. I think there is a lot of goodness in this one and that it is a good addition to the LGBTQ+ YA canon.