Cover Image: Linus and Etta Could Use a Win

Linus and Etta Could Use a Win

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Linus, the new kid at school, prefers blending into the background after navigating the spotlight of coming out as trans at his old school. Meanwhile, Etta proudly stands out with her vibrant green hair, embracing her uniqueness amidst a friendship fallout. When Etta gets challenged to get Linus elected student body president by one of her classmates, Linus finds himself thrust into the spotlight once again. What begins as a bet transforms into a genuine friendship between Linus and Etta, but secrets threaten to unravel their bond. Can their friendship survive the truth behind their connection?

After devouring Huntoon’s debut Skating on Mars and falling in love with their writing, I was so antsy to get my hands on their second book and surprise, surprise, I loved it just as much! This book felt like a cool mix of The Election meets She’s All That but queerer and definitely more appropriate for a younger audience.

Etta is a menace, but in the best way possible. After a hurtful breakup with her best friend, she’s become a bit of a loner and while she’s fine with that and unapologetic about how she now acts, you can tell from the beginning that her heart isn’t in it when she takes up the dare to get Linus elected. I loved how quickly Etta realised just how much of a friend and ally she has in Linus and that you don’t have to know someone forever to be on the same wavelength. It’s heartwarming how they both came to be so supportive of each other and even when they messed things up—as is the way of life, especially in middle school, they eventually found their way back to each other. Similarly, this book also talked about old friendships and what it means to lose this part of your identity and connection you’ve had with someone who seemed to always be on your side—especially when that came down to peer pressure and wanting to be cool. When really, the cool thing is to spend your time with the people you actually love.

Linus, too, stood out as a fully fleshed-out, relatable cinnamon roll. The struggles he is facing not just with being in the spotlight once again, if somewhat more favourably than the last time, not to mention the tensions with his grandmother felt so relatable. I can’t imagine being that young and having to deal with all the questions that come at school with transitioning and then going to a new school only to be the main point of attraction once again. More so, though, I can imagine and relate to Linus and his fear of being misgendered by his grandmother and my heart hurt for him every time he had to listen and wait for his parents to correct her when it happened. If you don’t speak up about wrongdoings when they happen, you become complicit to them and especially to Linus, this feels like he has no one who is on his side anymore. Actions matter and Huntoon showcases here just how important it is to listen to your kid’s needs. There’s a lot to say about parenting, of course, but I adored how brave Linus was in standing up for himself and openly communicating that this fraught situation is hurting him and that he needs more support from his parents. There’s also a lot of growth in this novel, not just on the side of Linus’s family but of course also with our main characters. It’s tough being unique when you’re so young but then again, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to be: you. This novel celebrates that and shows that adversity may always exist but that as long as you have a supportive network of friends and family, you can tackle anything.

Huntoon’s sophomore novel Linus and Etta Could Use a Win charms its readers with queer joy, a high-stakes dare, an unlikely alliance and the transformative power of friendship. Perfect for fans of Jude Saves the World and the classic movie Election with Reese Witherspoon.

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Available 7 May 2024

I just wanted to express my gratitude to NetGalley, Macmillan Children's Publishing, and Caroline Huntoon for providing me with an eARC of Linus and Etta Could Use a Win for review.

This book is tailor-made for middle-grade readers and offers such a powerful exploration of the beauty of friendship. We follow Linus, a transgender boy, and Etta, a cisgender girl, as they navigate the ups and downs of growing up amidst personal struggles, heartache, and the first day of 8th grade!

Huntoon's writing is absolutely perfect for middle-grade audiences, striking a delicate balance between emotional depth and accessible storytelling. The characters are so relatable and well-developed, each grappling with their own fears and insecurities in a way that young readers will find both compelling and authentic.

One thing I want to mention is that there is some transphobia depicted throughout the book. However, I believe that it is handled in a way that is appropriate for middle-grade readers. I totally understand that it might be frustrating for some readers, so I just wanted to give you a heads-up.

Overall, this heartfelt novel is such a beautiful read and is sure to resonate with middle-grade readers. It's full of relatable characters, engaging storytelling, and an uplifting message that will stick with you long after you turn the final page. I can't wait for you to read it!

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This is such an adorable story about a trans boy moving to a new school and the outcast girl he befriends.

Linus and his family moved to Ohio to be closer to his grandmother, who seems to struggle with misgendering Linus. Etta gets a dare from her ex best friend to make Linus run for student council.

I love the friendship between Etta and Linus, and how Linus realizes his voice in and out of school. It was a fun, lighthearted read that treated a couple of serious topics with grace and determination.

Thanks so much to NetGalley and publisher for the opportunity to read and review!

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4 out of 5 stars

Rep: Trans main character, non-binary secondary character, side character with two dads

Content warnings: Misgendering, microaggressions, menstruation, past friendship breakup

This is such a cute book! Linus is adorable and Etta is such a genuinely cool person. She comes across as realistic but not annoying, which I assume is a difficult line for writers to walk. I enjoyed watching Linus learn to stick up for himself -- I was horrific at that when I was his age too (and well into adulthood). While I didn't care for his little romance with Marigold, it's always nice when authors write about crushes in true-to-life ways, awkward blushing and all.

The part about Linus listening to see if his parents would correct his grandma's misgendering is *incredibly* relatable. He describes it as feeling like they're "guilty by association" and that's exactly how I feel in my own life too. It made me so happy to see them grow, though. There are some really great adults in this book. I love Etta's mom and, despite his faults, Linus's dad. I love how much grace they're willing to give their kids and how they don't seem patronizing.

All in all a very sweet book, and I'm dying for more trans middle grade stories like this one!

**HUGE thank you to Macmillan Publishers for granting me an eARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!**

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This was a solid middlegrade contemporary, but it didn't stand out to me, and I don't think it will really stay with me. I liked both main characters, but I felt like I got to know Linus a lot better throughout the book, and he just felt more fleshed out. I gave Skating on Mars 3 stars too, so maybe Caroline Huntoon's books aren't entirely for me, which is absolutely fine since I'm not the target audience. I would absolutely recommend this to kids who want to read about trans main characters!

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This was a good book! I really enjoyed getting to see how Linus and Etta became friends and how their friendship grew and fluctuated as they learn more about who they are. I enjoyed reading this book a lot!

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4.5 stars

Linus is the new kid at school and trying to fly under the radar. After recently coming out as trans at his previous school and dealing with all of the attention that came with it, he’s looking forward to being an anonymous teenager. Etta has always been the odd one out at school, and she’s fine with being a loner ever since breaking up with her best friend. At least, that’s what she keeps telling herself.

After an encounter with Etta’s ex-best friend Marigold, Linus is now a part of a (unknown) bet to get elected as student body president. But as Etta spends more time with Linus, she realizes she genuinely likes him as a friend. And she’s afraid that friendship will disappear when she tells him the truth.

Thanks to Feiwel & Friends and NetGalley for an advanced copy of Linus and Etta Could Use a Win by Caroline Huntoon! It’s my year of focusing on reading more middle grade, and this one sounded absolutely adorable. I am happy to say that the story and the writing definitely didn’t disappoint.

I believe this is Huntoon’s second book, and I think I’m definitely going to have to go back and read their first one! The writing style of this hits the tone of a middle grade book right on, and all of the emotions and interactions absolutely felt so genuine. I can see middle grade readers of all kinds relating to both Linus and Etta.

Middle school feels like such a tumultuous time for friendships, and that’s captured in this book as well. There’s that feeling of loneliness that feels unique to middle school in the fact that you don’t know where you fit in. It’s a time of so many changes, and adding extra changes on top of that? It just compounds the loneliness.

If you love middle grade books, especially queer middle grade books, definitely check this one out when it comes out this May!

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I love Linus and Etta so much! This book is full of heart, and the characters are awesome. In a way, it reminded me of the characters from Mean Girls in that Etta used to be friends with the popular girl, turned goth, befriended the new kid, who simultaneously befriends the popular girl. In a nutshell. The efforts Linus makes to find acceptance among his family are fortunately not as much of a battle with his friends. However, he soon learns that his friends may have ulterior motives for asking him to run in the election. Linus has to determine what is right for himself, how to stand up to peers, and how to find his place.

This book is an amazing way to teach tolerance, work through problems in communication, and celebrate the power of friendship. These characters were awesome and I look forward to reading more books from Mx. Huntoon!

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I truly loved Linus and Etta Could Use a Win. Fast-paced, quirky, and unique, I will hands-down be rereading and recommending this book widely. Linus, Etta, and even Marigold could all easily have fallen into stereotypical, tropey characters, but instead they all quite literally shine; I particularly love Linus, whose relationships and struggles gave the story such dimensionality. The tension within his family over his grandmother rang so true, and the development of that plotline was one of my favorite parts of this book! I couldn’t stop reading this book, and I certainly didn’t want to—when it ended, I truly wished there were another hundred pages to go. I highly recommend Linus and Etta Could Use a Win, particularly to readers who love queer middle grade books, friendship stories, and incredibly relatable characters.

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This book was so fun! I loved the switching perspectives and the friendship triangle with Linus, Etta and Marigold. It was didactic at times, but not in a way that took away from the story, and I think there's room for being didactic in a story like this. Some parts felt a bit underdeveloped, such as when Etta decides she actually doesn't want to go to Nova--it seemed to happen pretty fast and without much explanation, when it was such a driving force of the book. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in two days!

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Not your advantage trans non binary story. Def a great read that I know a few of my students will love.

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Anything with positive trans youth representation with 5 stars from me. Forever & always. I hope this makes it into every middle school in the world.

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This book was a book I took to heart. One of my friends is trans! I think that this an amazing book. It really taught me that you can be anything you want. I think though marget is a little on the dramatic side to me though. When they kissed, I was shocked. But I thought the girls talking bad about marget, she should never talk to them again. This book was great and thanks for sharing this with me!

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This one is difficult for me to pinpoint my feelings. I really loved the representation and that it included scenes that will make certain readers feel seen for the first time--such as a trans boy getting his period-- but as a realistic fiction, there was a bit too much that didn't feel real that took me out of an otherwise enjoyable read

Actual rating 3.5*

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I was excited to read this ARC provided by NetGalley because my love for reading starting when I was younger and I understand the impact of having books with representation like “Linus & Etta Could Use A Win” can have . When reading it was hard to wrap my head around the fact that I’m in the head of a preteen . Linus & Etta seemed so mature for their age at some points . Definitely will recommend this book to any kid in my life !

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Linus, a trans boy, is starting at a new school and wonders if anyone will like him. He figures he doesn’t have to come out because he’s a boy there. Linus accidentally meets Etta who thinks she likes talking to him. Marigold, Etta’s former best friend, meets Linus and gives him her number. Etta thinks she can’t have Linus too. The two girls make a bet and Etta says I can get Linus elected as student body president after he signed up to be on the student council. When Linus finds out about the bet he can’t believe it, but Etta apologizes and asks for his forgiveness. Does Linus forgive her? Does Linus become student council president?

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