“Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.
A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.
But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.
The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.
But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?”
I got an ARC of this book.
Lets start with the cover. It looks like a lesbian romance novel. Chris does not pass in this picture. Why do I point this out? Chris passes 100% f the time in the book without any questions by anyone. He temporarily moves to a new town and NO ONE ever says or does anything that implies that he doesn’t pass as 100% male 100% of the time. One character asks if he is gay, but that is the closest it gets. I know many guys that passed most of the time as male without hormones, but they passed as much younger than they were as teens. Chris passing as a 17 year old male without hormones is very unlikely when he is 17.
My next issue is Chris is trans. Before you grab your pitchforks and scream I am transphobic, I am a trans man. I started my medical transition at 15. I have no issues with trans people being represented in media. I have problems when they are badly written characters that makes it really obvious that the author is cis. Chris’s entire trans life boils down to binding, almost being raped, and coming out while in the middle of hooking up with someone. So lets start with binding: the binder that Chris is wearing is one I have seen before and have worn before, basic google image search and you get the image. The issue is when you are binding running is not really the best idea. It inhibits your ability to breathe. Binders are also super expensive, so it is unlikely that Chris has too many binders laying around to go running in them all the time. Sleeping in a binder can be super dangerous because of the breathing issues. There is a scene where Chris takes off his binder and sleeps with someone in his bed. He then sleeps shirtless. Based on how strongly Chris reacted to his chest, it seems super unlikely that he would sleep without a shirt or a shirt and a sports bra (does some binding) while someone else was in the room. His backstory is very much “trans people can only ever be hated, raped, and killed” which is what the media seems to think. I am so done with that idea and I hate that yet another story with a trans lead has that basic plot. It also seems unlikely that Chris would have been unaware that they were trying to rape him, considering how everything went down. Coming out in the middle of a hook-up is dangerous. Chris had not started hormones or had any forms of surgery (never mentioned ever wanting them for that matter). There would be some pretty obvious issues with this plan that even someone who isn’t super trans versed would notice (erections for example). The sex scene where Chris is super against his chest being touched, but is all about about his genitalia just read as a lesbian sex scene. There was no dysphoria, which seems so odd considering how Chris was acting throughout the book. Not all trans people experience dysphoria about their genitalia or experience it all the time, but the way Chris was written would imply he would experience dysphoria around his body. So the trans character was not believable at all. Was I still excited that a trans character was dating and doing normal teen things? Hell yeah. Had I wished that a trans author had written this character so I could have actually seen myself in him? HELL YES.
So now that I have ranted, the rest of the book in a few sentences. The characters were flat. I didn’t ship them. I didn’t care about what was happening. There were cheap tricks to try to elicit emotions (the dog plot). There were too many coincidences at the end that made the story wrap up very nicely, without actually addressing any of the major plot points. It was just an eh story. Why two stars? It wasn’t a terrible book. I really enjoyed Maia’s character development and how trauma was represented for her and her family. If the story was all from Maia’s perspective or Chris wasn’t trans then this book would probably have been a better book.
2 out of 5 stars. I would not recommend this book.