by Dean Atta
Read by the author
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Content: There is some swearing, talk of gay sex, and (older) teen drinking and drug use. It’s in the Teen section (grades 9+) of the bookstore.
Michael has spent his life feeling different from everyone else. A mixed-race kid (half-Black, half-Greek-Cypriate) in a mostly white London neighborhood, and as a boy who likes more traditionally “girly” things. He tries to find a place for himself in a religious school, with a female best friend, and in the drama department, though some of his crushes on boys don’t go over well (he gets the “you’re going to hell” speech more than once). But it’s not until he gets to university, and finds the Drag club, that he truly begins to Find Himself.
I read this as part of Trans Awareness Readathon week, mostly because I thought there would be more about gender fluidity and drag. There wasn’t. However, there was a lot about identity in general, both as a Black man in a majority white society and as a gay man in a conservative school. It was good – though listening to it on audio means I missed out on the novel as verse aspect. And because it was read by the author (who did well with it), I mistakenly thought it was a memoir for a while (there are some striking similarities between Michael the character and Atta the author). Even with all of that, it was a short, good listen, and I’m glad I got to experience Michael and his story.