Book Reviews

Wonder but with Gender//Zenobia July//ARC Review

Zenobia JulyZenobia July by Lisa Bunker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many thanks to Friya @ Penguin Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

How can they not know? It just keeps happening that nobody sees and so I’ve kept going, but I’m always waiting for the hammer to fall, and I hate having this hammer over my head. I hate it.

This is truly one of the best books I have read this year. It’s Wonder but instead of physical disfigurement, gender is the main topic of interest.

So, what’s this book about?

As mentioned above this book is like Wonder but it explores gender instead. It follows a diverse cast of characters, each trying to figure out who they are.

Zenobia July – By far, Zen was one of my favorite characters of 2019. She is a middle schooler who is currently going through her transition from male to female. But, as most middle schoolers are, she is full of insecurity. I could totally relate to her. It was really enjoyable to see the topic of gender covered in a middle-grade novel.

Arli – Arli is a very complicated character. Vo (Ven chosen pronouns) is also dealing with her own insecurities. Her family is a mess. Arli is trying to cope and is also trying to figure out ven gender.

Aunties – I love the Aunties. I won’t go into them to much because I don’t want to ruin the fun. The Aunties are silly, smart and all around great people. Just go read the book and enjoy the silly fun.

Melissa – SCCCCCCCCCRRRRRRREEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWW MELISSSSSSSAAAAAAAA. Okay, fine, she does have some redeemable qualities but still. Screw her.

Natalie – She sucks to.

As I said, gender is a huge theme in this book. While this theme is explored in a wide array of novels, I have never seen it explored this thoroughly and in such a intamite way. I personally have struggled with my own gender dysphoria and I almost felt as though the author had reached into my brain and put my story on paper. I am not transgender but I have thought about it even before I knew what exactly it was. I loved getting to see the whole process, messy thoughts and all in such a unique and realistic way.

Another huge theme in this book is friendship. I loved getting to see Arli and Zen becomes friends. Even though it did feel a bit forced, it was very enjoyable and made me wish for a friend like that.

Overall, this was an amazing novel that explored gender and friendship.
Bottom Line:
5 Stars
Age Rating: [ PG ]
TW: Transphobia
Cover: 4/5 ~ Plot: 5/5 ~ Characters: 5/5
Publisher – Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date – May 21st, 2019
Series – Stand-alone
Genre – LGBT/Contemporary

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