Two boys. Two secrets.
David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.
On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan.
When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…
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Quick Reasons: fantastic, realistic, well-written diversity; a sensitive and mature handling of an important subject; lovable, quirky characters; a great glimpse into various different familial relationships; not insta-love, but insta-friendship
Huge thanks to Lisa Williamson, David Fickling Books publishers, and Netgalley for access to this digital galley in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered how I read or perceived this book.
When I discovered this book while browsing Netgalley, I knew immediately I needed to read it. Needless to say, I was super excited when, just a day later, I was approved for access. I’ve just finished reading…and WOW. Wow. I was so not disappointed!
A sort of modern coming-of-age story, this focuses on a lot of mature, weighted subjects—the biggest and most important of which being self-acceptance, and self-love. Like many books I’ve read recently, this is written in dual points of view. But these journeys are so separate, so individualized for the character—Leo, with learning it’s okay to let others see who he is, and Kate, with figuring out how to accept herself and be honest with those she loves—that it isn’t difficult to keep the stories straight and find yourself rooting for the both of them. These characters are so strong, their voices so clear and heart-wrenching, you’ll find yourself flying (much like I did!) through the pages, pleading to know what happens next, begging the bookish powers that be for an ending that doesn’t shatter you.
Of course, I feel like there are some characters we don’t get to know as well as the main. Kate’s best friends, Essie and Felix, for instance fall a bit flat for me. At the end, I adored them and how awesome they were about setting up their alternative Ball…but for most of the book, we don’t see enough of them to really comprehend their validity/existence as characters (does that make sense? it’s almost like they’re not REALLY there, even though they are.) Leo’s siblings—especially his twin, Amber—also fall a bit flat for me. We are told that Leo is super close to Amber, but…we aren’t really shown that, as for most of the book she’s not at home or not around.
There are some emotional, heavy moments of bullying detailed in certain parts of this, so if you’re triggered by that sort of thing, you might not want to pick this up unless you know you can handle those scenes. They aren’t triggering in the way of violence, necessarily, but are pretty tough to read regardless.
The multiple journeys toward self-discovery/self-acceptance and, more importantly, closure or support in familial relationships are realistic and so well-written. I found myself holding my breath for the characters, rooting them on and trying to pick them up when they fell. Because the book is written in first-person perspective, I felt as if these characters were speaking directly TO me, instead of at me, which only heightened the sense of protectiveness I felt toward them.
This was an illuminating, emotional read, and I am so glad I picked it up! I’d definitely recommend to readers of contemporary, coming-of-age journeys, and diverse characters. If you let it, this book is bound to touch your heart—and stay there.