5 stars · Contemporary · diverse characters · lgbtqia content · mental health · my faves · own voices author · young adult

REVIEW: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

The Official Description: From Stonewall and Lambda Award–winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

Just the facts: Gender Identity, working it out with family and friends, college anxiety!

Felix is the character I’ve always needed! This is a beautiful book. It made me laugh, made me cry and made me set it down and immediately want to read it again. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: This book has left a lasting impression on me. I love YA books, and I think that the market is expanding to include a lot of books with diverse characters written by own-voices authors. This book is wonderful, because while it focuses on one individual who is exploring their own gender identity … it contains messages that can speak to so many people.

When the book opens, the reader meets Felix who is black, queer and transgender. He has his best friend, Ezra and he has art school, and he has hundreds of emails in his draft folder that are written to the Mom who left when he was young.

Everything in this book is about finding out who you are. Callender has done a wonderful job of writing a character that will appeal to all kinds of people. That doesn’t at ALL negate the fact that this character… Felix is trans… and a demiboy. I have never read a book before in which a character claimed the label of demiboy and it was such a great feeling! I’m so glad that young adult fiction has reached a place at which we are able to read about such a diverse group of people! There are real issues in this book, and it’s important that this book will be out in the world for young people to read. I wish I’d been able to read something like this when I was a teenager.

Felix is SUCH a great character! He just wants to be loved and in love… and don’t we all when it comes down to it? He’s a sweetheart, but sometimes he says and does things that are hurtful because he’s human and he’s a bit lost throughout much of this novel. He’s complex and I loved being lost in his thoughts for a while. I feel as though I came away with a better understanding of what it must be like to try and discover your own gender identity. The hurt and pain that Felix feels when he is deadnamed… and faces a gallery of old images of him… is so visceral I teared up. I couldn’t help but understand it because of how well it was written. The thing is… and this is what I really loved… in no way did I feel sorry for Felix… ever. I felt empathy for Felix and I felt terrible about some of the things that happened to him, but he was such a great character… strong and resilient.

Ezra was a fantastic character too. As Felix’s best friend, he was loving and gentle, kind and empathetic. I hope that every person out there who might be struggling with something in their life will find a friend like Ezra! The dynamic between the two main characters was beautiful. I don’t want to give too much away… but again, Callender wove a tale around two characters that drew me in.

The slightly rocky relationship that Felix had with his father was lovely to read. It wasn’t perfect – relationships aren’t – but Callender did a great job of writing the father in a way that I could sympathize with him and yet still feel the hurt that Felix felt. It’s not often that an author conveys emotion so well.

Everyone should read this book. I am a cisgender, white woman… so I can’t speak to the authenticity of this book. But you know who can? Kacen Callender can. This is a book written by an “own voices” author… and if you read it, you’ll certainly understand why books like this, and authors like Callender are important.

Thank you, Kacen Callender, for a book that I could learn from, love, and see a bit of myself in.

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) off-page deadnaming (deadname is never mentioned), transphobia, racism, misgendering, absent mother.

Readalikes: Other stories that are similar or give the same feel.

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of Felix by Kacen Callender from Harper Collins US via Edelweiss in exchange for an unbiased review.

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