by Ashley Herring Blake, published 2018
“In the end, this was about me, not them,” Robin said, tapping her chest. “And the people in my life could either accept that or they could live without me.” Ivy swallowed hard. “Did anyone choose to…well…” “Live without me?”
This is an inside story, literally. In this children’s book about emerging gender identity, we live in Ivy’s mind, and get an honest glimpse of the confusion that she, and probably other contemporary gay teen girls, go through. The first is trying to sort out who she is. The second is how to sort out that who she is may not be the same as everyone else’s expectation. Finally, trying to operate in the world of teenage friendships when you not only don’t know who you are, but you don’t really know your friends, either.
An excellent children’s book for the young teen girl, I think it would be hard for a boy reader to relate to her struggles. This book has a very feminine slant, and since much of the plot revolves around a young girl’s illustrated journal, my sense is that it is best read by young girls. However, since it is also clearly about creating a romantic relationship, as opposed to just a friendship, then I personally would hold this children’s book as relevant for 12-year-old girls and up, perhaps 11.
Interestingly, the author has also added other stressors to the mix that many children experience. In this children’s book, it includes the homelessness that occurred from a natural disaster. Goodness knows how many children are facing that daily. So I’m happy to see it included. Of course, it does make the gender issue even more difficult to deal with – it’s already difficult, but then add in not having your home, and it makes for an interesting experience to read about.