Happy Saturday! It’s a wonderful day to talk about books, and boy do I have an incredible read for you.
Jack and Jules are both starting a new school year at a new school. Jules has just come to terms with being gay and isn’t fully out. And maybe doesn’t want to be. All he wants is to make the basketball team, keep his head down, and get through the school year.
Jack is trying to start over. New city, new school, new life. He misses his best friend, but that’s part of why he followed his actor dad to Los Angeles to begin with. He’s ready to be who he is, no strings, no history, no memories.
But when Jack and Jules meet, their connection is undeniable. Before either one can explore the depth of their feelings or even just enjoy the tendrils of possibility, a video starts making its way around the school connecting Jack with transgender vloggers.
They’re both thrown into the spotlight at school, forced to deal with questions neither one agreed to. Now they each have to make a choice: do they lie low and wait everyone out? Or will they be brave enough to follow their hearts?
OMG where do I even start? This book stole my entire heart and I would do anything for Jack and Jules.
Okay, so I loved the format of this book. We open with Jules’ perspective. In between chapters we get tumblr posts from a boy named Adam, trying to mend his relationship with a girl named Evie.
By the time we shift to Part 2, and get to know Jack, you are fully invested in the characters. I loved getting both perspectives, and that in addition to the tumblr posts, we get YouTube videos and text threads. This is the way teens communicate, through a plethora of social media and technology. But more than that, this is the world they navigate. And it’s hard, living in a world where your life can be destroyed with a video that is too easily shared.
I thought the way we get the different conversations and videos was a clever way to really let us into their world. There is so much revealed in these quieter moments. The videos also actually provide a lot of helpful information about being trans and the vulnerability is so authentic, these feel like real-life transcripts. In fact, all of the characters, including the side characters and parents, are flawed and realistic.
Because all of this feels so real, there are some issues readers should know about. The racism, homophobia, and transphobia on the page is heartbreaking and cruel. I don’t say this as a criticism. It’s actually the opposite. There are levels of acceptance and tolerance, and even from the people we care about most, there can be a struggle to bridge the divide when it comes to misunderstandings and intentions.
All of this is explored and presented in All Kinds Of Other. We see how hard it can be coming out to friends and family. How sometimes those relationships can be the ones who hurt you the most in these situations. Maybe not intentionally, but it can still happen. I loved that the parents were simply people who loved their kids and were doing their best. It wasn’t perfect and they made many mistakes. But that felt real to me. Parenting isn’t easy, but neither is growing up. And I loved the layered complexity Sie wove throughout this entire book.
Reading these interactions might be difficult for some readers. There are kids who bully, no matter how inclusive the school tries to be. There are parents who will unintentionally hurt their kids, or make them angry, or violate their trust. And even other allies or people in the LGBTQ+ community. People are people, and people make mistakes. While I think the content is handled very well, for anyone who has experienced or is experiencing similar treatment, it might be too real and too raw, and readers should be prepared before going in.
For all the heaviness this book presents, it ends up being so full of hope and love I swear it’ll melt your heart. Watching both of these boys grow towards being their authentic selves had me sobbing in the middle of the night. Sie took exquisite care when creating these teenagers and by the end, all I wanted to do was wrap them both in a fuzzy blanket and give them enormous hugs.
I love that it doesn’t flinch from the hard facets of life, it doesn’t try to soften them or brush them away. It faces them, and by doing that, it shows us that we can too. It also shows us that forgiveness is multi-faceted. That we can forgive in different ways, and that sometimes it takes time. Being forgiven includes forgiving ourselves, and that’s not a message I’ve seen explored in a lot of YA. And I loved that it shows us that we can all be our true selves, because it’s always worth it in the end.
All Kinds Of Other is a heart-warming book about a cis boy and a trans boy trying to find who they are. It’s warm, the characters are endearing, and the plot is breathtaking. I think it’s a book that will appeal to a wide range of readers. Anyone who has ever struggled with identity and belonging will relate to Jack and Jules in so many ways. It’s a gorgeous story, written with compassion and care, and I am so grateful I was able to read it.
Five glowing stars.
Thank you Turn The Page Tours, Quill Tree Books, and MBC Books for sending me a copy and including me on this tour.
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour for more reviews, quotes, playlists, mood boards, and more! And for more chances to win a finished copy.
In this tender, nuanced coming-of-age love story, two boys—one who is cis and one who is trans—have been guarding their hearts to protect themselves, until their feelings for each other give them a reason to stand up to their fears.
Two boys are starting at a new school.
Jules is just figuring out what it means to be gay and hasn’t totally decided whether he wants to be out at his new school. His parents and friends have all kinds of opinions, but for his part, Jules just wants to make the basketball team and keep his head down.
Jack is trying to start over after a best friend break-up. He followed his actor father clear across the country to LA, but he’s also totally ready to leave his past behind. Maybe this new school where no one knows him is exactly what he needs.
When the two boys meet, the sparks are undeniable. But then a video surfaces linking Jack to a pair of popular transgender vloggers, and the revelations about Jack’s past thrust both Jack and Jules into the spotlight they’ve been trying to avoid. Suddenly both boys have a choice to make—between lying low where it’s easier or following their hearts.
JAMES SIE is the author of STILL LIFE LAS VEGAS (St. Martin’s Press, 2015), a Lambda Literary Award finalist for Best Gay Fiction, and the YA novel ALL KINDS OF OTHER (Quill Tree Books, 2021) He is an award-winning playwright of literary adaptations, receiving a Joseph Jefferson Citation for his adaptation of ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS, and an After Dark Award for the original work THE ROAD TO GRACELAND. He has contributed essays for The Rumpus, Pen USA, FSG’s Book Keeping and The Advocate. In addition to writing, Sie can currently be heard as a voiceover artist in animation and audiobook narration.
Enter to win one finished copy of All Kinds of Other by James Sie! Open USA only. There will be 1 winner.
Giveaway starts: Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Giveaway ends: Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CST