As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman

As the Crow Flies is a graphic novel about Charlie, a 13-year-old queer Black kid at an all-white, all-girls summer Christian backpacking camp. She's deconstructing some of the toxic theology she's been taught (specifically, white evangelicalism), but also holding on to her faith and giving it space to grow. As soon as the camp leader said there was going to be a "feminist ceremony," I knew TERF rhetoric wasn't far behind. Heads up for transphobia, gender essentialism, and racism in this book (none of these things are left unchecked). Charlie makes a new friend at camp who is also troubled by their leader's racism and TERF ideology, and the two girls become each other's confidants—and better yet, accomplices. The book…

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The Seep by Chana Porter

Chana Porter's The Seep takes place after an alien invasion that, instead of bringing war and destruction, makes people kinder, more caring and thoughtful. Earth has become a utopia, free of capitalism. Everyone has the ability to be whoever or whatever they feel they need to be, and they are kept happy and soothed. But there's an air of toxic positivity and superficial spirituality, too. The protagonist, Trina, sees through it and struggles with her conflicting, unsatisfied feelings. When her wife Deeba decides to make the ultimate Seep modification, Trina is left to deal with her grief. The world-building and the storytelling is superb. I don't always do well with fiction on audiobook, which is how I took in this…

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Laziness Does Not Exist by Devon Price

When I picked up Laziness Does Not Exist, I was expecting a book that counters capitalistic thinking—maybe along the lines of David Graeber's Bullshit Jobs. The opening of the book got my hopes up and I was excited to dig in deep. Instead, this ended up feeling more like a self-help book for people who have economic and class privilege. It focused on fairly privileged people in traditional workplace environments, with suggestions on setting boundaries, having realistic expectations, and avoiding burnout. That's important stuff for people who are in those environments, but there are so many people working jobs where there is no HR to talk to or negotiate with, where working from home isn't possible at all, and who…

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Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders is a wholesome YA space opera full of friendship, bravery, and adventure. There's a ton of great rep in this book, and fantastic modeling of consent and respect. Characters ask permission before giving hugs. They give each other space when they need time to decompress. And they're all introduced with their pronouns, thanks to the EverySpeak universal translator. There's a really thoughtful thread in this novel about what it feels like to have conflicting feelings about a person; remembering that there were good memories with that person, but feeling awful when you think of them. These conflicting feelings occur due to an outside force, yet there's still truth inside this plot detail…

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Unity by Elly Bangs

When Tachyon Publications reached out to me about Unity, Elly Bangs's post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk, sci-fi debut, I couldn't resist accepting a review copy based on the blurbs I read. The novel is said to "evoke the perilous grittiness of Mad Max and the redemptive unification of Sense8." And then Meredith Russo's description really got my attention: "Imagine Neuromancer and Lilith’s Brood conceived a baby while listening to My Chemical Romance and then that baby was adopted by Ghost in the Shell and Blue Submarine no. 6." Does that sound super creative and unique, or what?! I know it also sounds like there's a lot going on, but Bangs ties it all together so masterfully, it reads at a smooth, fast, thrilling…

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Catch Lili Too by Sophie Whittemore

Catch Lili Too was an unusual reading choice for me, but when the author approached me about their "queer punk fantasy" book, something about this description was irresistible: Lili is a Mesopotamian siren, and life as an immortal being is hard enough as it is. She’s asexual (which is incredibly difficult to reconcile if your entire point as a mythical being is to seduce people to death). She’s also struggling with depression from being alive for so long. She moonlights as an immortal detective trying to track down a serial killer so ruthless that it makes even her murderous soul uneasy. However, there’s something larger at work than just one serial killer. A small town is hiding an even deadlier, global-scale…

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Ciel by Sophie Labelle

Ciel is a character-driven, slice-of-life, coming-of-age novel featuring a gender nonconforming trans kid named Ciel as they start their first year of high school in Montreal. For my fellow American readers (I had to google this myself), that covers ages 12-17. Ciel and their friends are on the lower end of that age range, so this is solidly a middle grade novel. Kids will relate to the excitement and anxieties that come with being in a new school, making new friends, having crushes, further exploring one's own identity, and having the courage to be themselves. Ciel's inner dialogue will resonate really well with tweens and young teens. Best of all, trans and nonbinary kids get to see themselves in a…

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Raising Them by Kyl Myers

In Raising Them, sociologist Kyl Myers shares how they and their husband Brent are raising their first child, Zoomer, without gender boundaries; with complete freedom to determine their own gender. Zoomer is still quite young, so the book doesn't go beyond the preschool years. And although this is a memoir, not a how-to book, Myers is clear and detailed about the thought processes that led to each decision they made along the way. Myers argues that working toward gender equality must start in childhood, by breaking down assumptions and boundaries when it comes to appearance, toys, activities, etc. This takes a lot of work, because the gender binary is pushed everywhere, even in situations where it shouldn't even be a…

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Tranny by Laura Jane Grace

I wasn't super familiar with Against Me!'s music going into this memoir, but I truly enjoyed Laura Jane Grace's memoir Tranny. The narrative was interspersed with journal entries, the writing style held my attention and interest, and I appreciated her openness about her experiences as well as her own shortcomings. It was eye-opening to read about anarchism within punk, how some really tried their best to live out their philosophical beliefs, but others claimed the label for optics without actually subscribing to that philosophy at all. I had assumed that most punk musicians and fans shared a deep belief in living out anarchist principles, so this surprised me. It was also interesting to read about punk's fraught relationship with major…

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Mini Reviews: Transathon Wrap-Up

All of July was Transathon, hosted by Ocean over on Twitter. This event was about reading and enjoying books by transgender and non-binary authors. I do this year-round, but it was the perfect opportunity to focus solely on my huge list of books by not-cis authors I've been meaning to get to. I ended up reading a total of 9 books for Transathon! I've already posted about Homesick by Nino Cipri (review here) and Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe (review here), but here are mini reviews for the 7 other titles I read during this event: Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel Lavery A memoir rooted in faith, literary classics, pop culture, and the author's experiences being…

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