Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lily and Dunkin is one of the latst in a long line of stories about trans kids and, in part, the trans experience. I've read a number of these now, and I think this one might be the best even with some of its flaws and sameness.
On one side we have Lily, an eight grader born Timothy that is seen out front of his house by a classmate in a dress. That classmate, Dunkin, has bipolar disorder and has been treating it, but just moved into town and he's not taking it well. The two strike up a bond and friendship even as the world around them changes rapidly.
An issue with the trans books for YA and middle grade, at least so far, is that the stories all follow a similar trajectory. I appreciated what Donna Gephardt did in contrasting one story that few readers will be able to relate to in Lily's tale with a more accessible one in Dunkin's, but Lily's story does still suffer from that sort of sameness that others like it have followed. Plus, having to handle sensitive and confusing topics for this age group is difficult as is, and Lily's story in particular has its share of difficult-to-read parts from an emotional standpoint.
Still, this is miles ahead of George (in spite of some of the age differences), and easily the best in the space I've read in spite of a lot of the tropes being replicated here. The trend of featuring trans issues in books for kids and teens isn't going to go anywhere anytime soon, and it's great that we have one that is mostly appropriate and well-written. Especially if you're running a library and looking for the right book in this topic space, this one is worth your time.
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