The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Actual Rating: 4.25

*Thank you to Harper Collins for sending me an ARC of this book. This is my full and honest opinion.*

Meet Shane Woods. He is twelve-years old. He loves playing baseball and drawing his own graphic novel. Oh, and one more thing – he’s transgender, something he’s kept a secret even from his best friend Josh. But when he’s found out, everything comes crashing down, and Shane has to learn how to be strong and love himself in a world that is constantly trying to push him down.

I felt like all the characters were three-dimensional and realistic, and the way they talked and acted definitely mirrored modern society’s attitude towards transgenders. I especially loved the dynamic between Shane and Josh, and the emotional journey they went through together was touching in itself.

In fact, throughout the story, I found that one of the most appealing aspects of the characters was how they interacted with Shane before and after they found out about his secret. The side characters have such diverse personalities – just like in real life. Some people were accepting of Shane. Others took some time to get used to the idea. And still others found themselves unable to accept him for who he was. This made the story so much more real, and as I read, I found myself understanding what it would feel like to be rejected by somebody who I loved and who was supposed to love me – because of something that was out of my control.

That leads me to the main character: Shane is such a down-to-earth, relatable, and lovable character, and it was so easy to connect to him and understand why he was feeling the way he was. In fact, as his story progressed, I found that I felt like I was in his shoes, like I was living the story. And once I was in that position, it was so easy to see the effects of bullying and microaggressions on Shane as negative thoughts and doubt began to weigh him down and cloud his identity.

The plot was definitely another strong aspect. Keep in mind that this is a middle grade novel, which is why the storyline was straightforward and fast. However, the simplicity of the plot did not detract at all from how engaging and important the story was. Shane’s journey was painfully realistic and heartwarming, and I commend the author very much for writing a book about love and acceptance that will not only pull in readers of all ages, but will also teach young minds the importance of letting people be who they want to be.

The writing style, I would say, is also straightforward, which would be perfect for younger readers, considering that this was a middle grade book. Although everything did seem quite simplistic, I understand that I am older than the target audience. Nevertheless, although the writing style does seem to be for children, I was not bothered because the characters, plot, and message made up for simple style.

Overall, I loved The Other Boy, and I would recommend it to everyone, regardless of age or sexual orientation, and although we are reminded of how cruel the world can be, the book also shows us the other end of the spectrum as we realize that there are people in the world that understand why this is something that is worth fighting for.

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