This book is so necessary! I finished reading it and immediately per-ordered it for my classroom library because I know some of my students will see themselves reflected in its pages.
A treat to say the least. The short and yet honest book about this gender non-conforming trans kid felt like looking in a mirror. Seeing yourself in a story is such a wonderful thing. I am myself on the trans spectrum, so seeing it done so delightfully as it was done here by Sophie Labelle made me feel joyful. We desperately need more trans voices and stories for younger audiences, so the fact that this book not just exists, but is also wonderful made it even better.
It is a character driven story, which I feel like is common for slice-of-life stories. I personally love character driven books, so this was not an issue, just something that I feel like should be mentioned to set the right expectations.
Would recommend to a friend/loved one? Yes
Would buy a physical copy? Yes
With gorgeous use of colour, a spirited and lively story at its heart and wonderful artwork, this graphic novel is utterly lovely.
There were definitely some things lost in translation in this book, but on the whole, a wonderful story about a gender-nonconforming trans kid living their best life as best they can.
THIS IS A ME situation. I honestly could'n't get into the story no matter how hard I try. Like the pacing and the writing was just not for me. I would definitely say I forced myself on this one that just ruined my reading experience and enjoyment.
I will forever scream about how there needs to be more queer middle grade, and more trans middle grade, and more books that have gender non-conforming kids.
It is so important for these books to be out in the world.
This one was so lovely from start to finish, and I can see so many kids relating to it.
A wonderful read.
I love queer middle grade/early YA. They own a special piece of my heart and no one can deny that having on page queer rep and trans rep in teens books is essential and will absolutely make a difference to queer kids everywhere.
Now I'm calling this a middle grade/early YA because it read like a middle grade but the characters were technically starting high school (which would make them roughly 13-14). The character's dialogue, mannerisms, an actions all screamed middle grade to me. The writing at times wasn't my favorite, in that it almost felt perfunctory vs conversational, especially Ciel's attitudes towards her boyfriend.
My favorite part of this book was just the way it let Ciel and Stephie and Liam live. They all have different experiences as trans kids and showing them living their lives, doing every day regular things was great. There's also a good balance in addressing transphobia both within and outside the queer community throughout the book.
Not a whole lot happens in this book and it's very character based so be aware of that before starting, but as a queer middle grade I would recommend it over and over again. We absolutely need more trans and nonbinary rep in younger books and seeing this in a school library or classroom would be amazing.
rep: nonbinary MC, trans secondary characters, queer secondary characters, set in Canada
This is a short and slice of life type of book. It’s a book that will be appreciated for the representation with a gender non-conforming trans main character with a close friend who is a trans girl. Ciel has typical jitters about high school and their long distance relationship. It’s a slow paced book that may be helpful for readers who want to see themselves on the pages of books and also for those who are interested in learning a bit more about gender identity. There are a few loose ends so the book seems a little less polished than I would hope, but It’s still a good book to have for middle grade readers. Though it’s about high school students, it felt like Ciel was younger.
I love the representation in this, and especially love that more children's and middle grade books are coming out with representation. I really wish I had books like this growing up!
TW: transphobia, misgendering, deadnaming
It was a really cute book and the rep was amazing. I've been following Sophie Labelle on Instagram for a couple of years so it was amazing to see the characters that I grew to love from Assigned Male in a book - getting to know more about them, their likes and dislikes at the important milestone of starting middle school was amazing.
There are so many queer and especially trans characters in this one! It was great to see all of them navigating life and daily challenges with different approaches. In general, it's a very diverse book - characters come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds and there is a character in a wheelchair.
It's absolutely amazing seeing queer and trans rep in middle-grade books. We need them so badly and I'm glad that there are more and more coming out.
My only issue was that there was little plot and the book ended pretty abruptly. But all the same, I'm really glad this book exists.
I was surprised to see that "Ciel" is a regular book, since I was expecting a comic. My experience was affected by that, and I gave up on reading it.
I really wanted to enjoy this book, and as soon as I was approved for the title I started reading it. Unfortunately, I got about three chapters into this book and found that the writing style was not engaging for me. The writing sometimes focused on mundane detail to mundane detail that dragged the story for me since it never seemed to go anywhere, what's more there we blocks of sentences dedicated to explaining who a certain person is and what they do, etc. It just read as amateurish to me and like it needed an editor to help polish it up more. Anyway, I stopped reading it at chapter three but intended to give it another chance, but time slipped away and I never could motivate myself to pick it up again.
I'm definitely not the reader for this book; it wasn't written in my preferred writing style. But I'm sure that this will speak to some young reader, and I hope such a reader will find this book.
Ciel was a really cute book and it tackled many heavier issues, like transphobia (also in the queer community) and misgendering.
I was so mad at the laughter and mean comments because Ciel just wanted to be their best selves and people just loved to be unnecessary mean and ruining it their everyday school life.
I loved all the trans characters represented on page, with all their different experience and different discrimination they were facing. Loved the diversity, and loved the little geeky mentions. I'm a Link fan so seeing a Zelda game mentioned brought me so much joy.
I did find the language a bit too childish at times, not really fitting the characters ages, but maybe that was just me. I read often middle grade books and the way the characters speak does indeed vary.
I wished there a bit more of everything and I would've loved to see more of Ciel's new friendships. The scene with the cookies was just adorable. More of that!!
Cute and important with a non-binary mc just living their lives, navigating high school, YouTube videos, friends, and not letting bullies censor you from living your life the way you want!
This book really nails it on the head with representation. Ciel addresses the things they directly experience, from the blunt way young people experience things. Additionally, this book is very much a contemporary slice of life look at Ciel. With that being said, I struggled with some aspects of this book. I was never quite sure how old Ciel and their friend group was. Sometimes they felt 12, sometimes (when discussing dating) they felt older. Additionally, I could not tell you distinctly the plot of this book. It felt somewhat aimless in that, things simply happened as moments, while rarely being tied together to any greater plot. If you simply want to read about a kid having fun with friends and experiencing some hard life stuff, then this book is great! If you want a book with a plot that can be followed and a satisfying conclusion, this won't be that book for you.
Perhaps this would have carried over better as a comic, which is what our author is known for. The dialogue was always incredibly fun, and slice of life tends to read better that way (in my opinion). If this book had a little bit more plot or character growth, I would say it's great for kids to read. Unfortunately, I just don't think they'd be as interested in slice of life content as adults.
However, I do have to give it credit for its conversations about non-binary trans experiences and how they differ from binary-trans experiences. As a non-binary person, I really appreciated the way that Ciel looked at things and brought them up to people. The way Ciel was bullied tugged on my heartstrings as something I've always worried about, even in my big adult age.
All in all, this was an interesting read, but I would give it 2.5/5 stars as my official rating
It's so great to read a book with an enby character in high school, with a great cast of lgbtqia+ characters, very inspiring, great representation,
A nice easy read with a MC that is very relatable even if you are not non-binary. As a CISgender female I found the story very enlightening and appreciate that the author is taking the time to educate us on topics. we have little contact with. My only issue with this book was that a few of the events in the book never seem to truly wrap up the book just ends leaving some loose ends. But overall a good story.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this ARC.
Ciel is about a gender non conforming trans teen as they navigate their first year of high school. Ciel is an aspiring YouTuber who documents parts of his life both as a trans person and as human.
This was such an adorable short novel. Ciel has an accepting and loving family. Their dad and brother are always there for Ciel. It was also so good to see multiple trans people in this story. Ciel’s best friend, Stephie, is a trans girl who has been friends with Ciel for a long time. Ciel even makes a new friend in Liam, an accomplished swimmer who also happens to be trans.
This book does touch on some heavy subjects such as racism and transphobia. It is a sad reality that people as young as Ciel have to deal with these matter in a many aspects of their lives. It can be so important to showcase these issues in all genres of books. I loved the fact that while Ciel did have insecurities and was affected by what other people said, they also were strong and amazing. Ciel refused to hide who they are.
Overall I though this book was just such a relief to read. I unconsciously kept expecting something something worse to happen to Ciel because that is often how trans kids are portrayed but I was happy to be wrong. I tend to steer more towards fantasy books and dramatic contemporary because I enjoy the big climatic moments. I’ve forgotten what a book like this could do to a person.
As I closed the book I thought “that’s it”? I wanted more. Books like this can be so crucial especially to young readers. Reading books where the trans characters can just live and be human can be so powerful. I think books like this can inspire hope. I throughly enjoyed Ciel.
I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book via Netgalley.
Thank you to NetGalley and Second Story Press for gifting me with this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Going in, I was very excited to read a book about a non-binary character and their experience of the world. On that front, this book absolutely soared: I learnt about the intricacies of everything from navigating friendships to getting dressed, from being a queer YouTuber to being a kid just starting high school. I really appreciated seeing the world through Ciel's eyes, and from their perspective, with an honest style of narration.
However, there were a couple of major things that disappointed me about this book, and many of them may be personal. I felt jarred by the uncritical discussion of various teenage themes, and the way the author expected the reader to just accept that two characters this age were in committed, long-term relationships with boyfriends in early high school/ middle school. Although these characters were mainly developed in an age-appropriate way, this contributed to my unease. Yes, debateable things aren't meant to be critically analysed in middle-grade books, but should they be presented entirely uncritically? I'm concerned mostly because it might lead more conservative readers to think that, in turn, the narrator is just uncritically presenting other important viewpoints, when in fact Ciel makes various good arguments about the majority of the trans / gender-related issues.
I was also very underwhelmed by the lack of plot / plot resolution and the lack of substantial character development - very few of the things that happened caused any anguish in the protagonist, or for the protagonist to want something. I wanted to have a reason to be passionate about this character, but I struggled to find one.
All of these things might just be my personal inclination to have a strong plot / strong character development, rather than a slice of life, and my hesitation to invest in a story which (outside of the broad plot about Ciel being non-binary / trans) seemed to be more or less about social circles, boyfriends and complaining about a life which is ultimately pretty good. That being said, I think this book is VERY important for its incredible representation of trans issues and queer issues generally, and I commend the author for having the bravery to put this story out into the world. Thank you for sharing your experiences - even if I didn't connect with the characters, reading this book has taught me a lot.
This own voices novela introduces us to Ciel, a trans nonbinary teen who is just starting high school. Their best friend, Stephie, is a trans girl. Ciel is in a long distance relationship with Eirikur, a bisexual teen who has moved back to Iceland from Montreal. They are interested platonically, (for now at least) in Liam, a trans boy at the school.
It took me a bit to get into this story because the language felt stilted. Soon however I was engaged with the characters. Ciel is a sympathetic kid who works hard towards their goals. They get up every morning to deliver papers to raise money to purchase a new video camera. Ciel has a youtube channel where they post videos they have created. After a post about the lack of appropriate nongendered bathrooms at the school goes viral, they get a lot of negative comments. While this distresses Ciel, they have a supportive father and friends, and Ciel handles it well.
This book isn't full of angst and action. It's a thoughtful look into the life of teen and their friends who don't fit into the cisgendered world.
This is a really, really special book. It's one thing to find representation in fiction, but it's another to find it in an age range that often doesn't show as much representation, such as middle grade. The pacing and characterization was just a smidge clunky for me from time to time, but that didn't at all hinder my reading. Ciel shows diversity with ease, and characters that are relatable for children and adults alike.