The Official Description: In this tender, nuanced coming-of-age love story, two boys—one who is cis and one who is trans—have been guarding their hearts to protect themselves, until their feelings for each other give them a reason to stand up to their fears.
Two boys are starting at a new school.
Jules is just figuring out what it means to be gay and hasn’t totally decided whether he wants to be out at his new school. His parents and friends have all kinds of opinions, but for his part, Jules just wants to make the basketball team and keep his head down.
Jack is trying to start over after a best friend break-up. He followed his actor father clear across the country to LA, but he’s also totally ready to leave his past behind. Maybe this new school where no one knows him is exactly what he needs.
When the two boys meet, the sparks are undeniable. But then a video surfaces linking Jack to a pair of popular transgender vloggers, and the revelations about Jack’s past thrust both Jack and Jules into the spotlight they’ve been trying to avoid. Suddenly both boys have a choice to make—between lying low where it’s easier or following their hearts.
Just the facts: Diverse characters, outing, coming out, sexual identity, gender identity.
My thoughts bit: All Kinds of Other by James Sie is the kind of book that I love to discover in the YA genre. The story is important, nuanced, and emotional. The characters are great. James Sie doesn’t gloss over things that are hard-hitting because they actually happen to people.
Jules just wants to play basketball at his new school. Yeah, he’s also trying to figure out his sexuality, but that’s not his priority. He’s not uncomfortable in his skin – he’s just trying to figure things out without his friends deciding for him.
Jack is new in town. His Dad is on a mission to potentially change his life by having a go at being an actor and Jack is along for the ride. From Jack’s perspective, it’s a new beginning at a new school where he can be the guy he wants to be with no questions about his past. Jack is still reeling from a breakup with his best friend, so it seems like a good time to flee.
One of the main characters is cisgender and one is trans. Both young men are learning about themselves and learning about their friends and families at the same time. Isn’t that the way it goes? As we reveal pieces of ourselves, sometimes we find that people support us unconditionally, sometimes, sadly, we find that people don’t “approve”.
There’s a lot going on in this story, but the author manages it sweetly and with a splash of humour. When the two young men become close and begin to realize that they may be more than friends everything is derailed when old YouTube videos surface that outs one of them as being trans.
The outing is significant for a few reasons. In this day and age, it’s so easy for us to put things on social media that we think will never come back to haunt us. The problem is that once things are online… there’s no way to ever be certain that they are gone. Outing is something that many people simply don’t understand. Outing is a horrible thing to happen – in particular to a young person. No one should have to reveal anything about themselves unless they are willing and ready to do so. Being outted can scar people emotionally and it can put them in very dangerous situations.
Sie explores a lot of things in this book. I can’t speak to Sie’s personal experience with issues faced by trans folks, but the book read as authentic to me. One of the main characters discusses a lot of issues and emotions with respect to being trans and this book would be a great way for someone to begin to understand what it might be like to be a trans teen.
This book is a lovely combination of funny moments, love, awesome friends and some hard-hitting issues. Sie achieves a great balance of things and the novel never feels overwhelming even though some of the things that happen to the characters are difficult to read.
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) character is ghosted by a friend, several characters are bullied, a trans character is outted (person admits to it later and is forgiven after being corrected), a parent is transphobic, descriptions of body dysphoria, descriptions of a character wearing binder, non-binary character are bullied at school (another character stands up for them), trans character’s father doesn’t step in when other adults are being disrespectful and transphobic (apologizes later).
I received an ARC of All Kinds Of Other by James Sie from Quiill Tree Books via Edelweiss in exchange for an unbiased review.