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The Other Boy: 02/19/18

The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey

The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey is set at the building of the Berlin wall, in East Berlin, with a family physically divided by the wall.

The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey is about a star pitcher on a middle school baseball team. In his spare time he is also drawing a graphic novel for fun. There's just one problem — he's transgender and some bullies have found out. Worse yet, his dad doesn't want him to start hormone therapy to stop puberty.

As a baseball story — a kid facing bullying on and off the team — it's decent. As a story about a nerd being socially awkward and finding solace in his artwork, it's decent.

It's nice to see a male character as the transgender female stories seem to outnumber the boy ones. The book includes some resources in an appendix to kids or their parents who might be seeking advice.

But the story falls back on tropes. There is the one parent who doesn't want their child to start hormone therapy. There are the over the top bullies. There is the permissive school administration who doesn't step into stop the bullying until forced to.

Mostly though there is the cut and dry assumed gender binary. There are boys. There are girls. And there those who feel their body doesn't fit their perceived gender. There's never any gray area in these books.

Eventually I hope there can be transgender characters in middle grade fiction where their status as a transgender child or teen isn't the point. Let them live in their fictional world.

Four stars

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