4 out of 4 stars
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My LadyBird Story by Magus Tor is the most profound YA novel I’ve ever read, ever. Unlike Tor, I’m not proficient enough in my writing to wax poetic about how amazing this novel is and actually do it justice. However, the issues touched upon in the novel are very controversial and dear to my heart, so it was practically a godsend to come across such a well-written novel concerning issues I had just recently been arguing about with family friends.
The story centers around John Bird, a teenage boy who has never quite felt right in his own skin. John is feminine, physically and mentally, and that difference causes him to be bullied incessantly. One day John meets a new transfer student, Aureus, and although she seems nice, John is sure that she’ll realize how different he is and he will lose her friendship. Aureus is stubborn, though, and thus, John finally makes his first true friend and meets someone who will stick by him even when he starts questioning his very existence.
The writing expertise of the novel is just stunning to me. Everything was nigh on perfect. There were a variety of characters, all with strong personalities. The dialogue was so smooth and natural, shaped by the characters’ emotions but not overwhelmed by them. The pace of the storyline was refreshing and never confusing, despite the many time leaps as John grows up and into his new body and lifestyle. Also, the same characters that John encountered in high school show up again to test his new confidence. Finally, the approach to transgender teens and the transitioning process is the most realistic, down-to-earth writing I’ve seen so far in the YA genre. The description of John’s discomfort, his complete assuredness that something is wrong with him but he has no idea what, is something that people sometimes just do not understand.
I will say that although the book started out with very nice editing, as it went on I saw more and more typos and grammatical errors. There were also a few sentences with words missing or extra words added in, problems that could be solved with another vigorous round of proofreading. Also, towards the second half of the book after John has gotten help in starting his transformation, he becomes overwhelming positive about the entire process. Although there are a few moments of worry, he is always quickly reassured by Aureus or another character. I would have liked to see a little more drama from complete strangers, because part of transitioning is showing yourself to the outside world and having to deal with other people’s reactions.
Overall, I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. I would recommend it to mature young adults and adults alike, as the topic of transgender and transitioning people as well as those around them is fairly simplified but still imaginably realistic and easy to understand. However, there are some mentions of sexual acts, assault, and attempted rape. Nothing overtly sexual or detailed, but some of the characters find themselves in some very scary situations that could happen to any of us.
In my opinion, everyone should have to read a book like My Ladybird Story at least once in their lives, if only so that they can better understand the pain and hardships that transgender and transitioning people have to go through just to feel at home in their own bodies. It’s not as simple as putting on clothes of the opposite sex. It’s about making your inside match your outside.
My Ladybird Story
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