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Ciel

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Ciel is excited to start high school. A gender non-conforming trans kid, Ciel has a YouTube channel and dreams of getting a better camera to really make a mark. Ciel can always rely on their best friend, Stephie, a trans girl who also happens to be a huge nerd, but their friendship begins to feel distant when Stephie makes it clear she wants the fact that she's trans to be Ciel is excited to start high school. A gender non-conforming trans kid, Ciel has a YouTube channel and dreams of getting a better camera to really make a mark. Ciel can always rely on their best friend, Stephie, a trans girl who also happens to be a huge nerd, but their friendship begins to feel distant when Stephie makes it clear she wants the fact that she's trans to be more invisible in high school. While navigating this new friendship dynamic, Ciel is also trying to make a long-distance relationship work with their boyfriend Eirikur, who just moved back to Iceland. When Ciel befriends Liam, a new trans boy at school, things become more complicated by the minute.


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Ciel is excited to start high school. A gender non-conforming trans kid, Ciel has a YouTube channel and dreams of getting a better camera to really make a mark. Ciel can always rely on their best friend, Stephie, a trans girl who also happens to be a huge nerd, but their friendship begins to feel distant when Stephie makes it clear she wants the fact that she's trans to be Ciel is excited to start high school. A gender non-conforming trans kid, Ciel has a YouTube channel and dreams of getting a better camera to really make a mark. Ciel can always rely on their best friend, Stephie, a trans girl who also happens to be a huge nerd, but their friendship begins to feel distant when Stephie makes it clear she wants the fact that she's trans to be more invisible in high school. While navigating this new friendship dynamic, Ciel is also trying to make a long-distance relationship work with their boyfriend Eirikur, who just moved back to Iceland. When Ciel befriends Liam, a new trans boy at school, things become more complicated by the minute.

30 review for Ciel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Anniek

    I've said this before and I'll say it again: it's really such a special thing to see your identity represented in middlegrade. I've read a few books with non-binary main characters so far, but never one in middlegrade, and it really means a lot. It's just such a healing experience. This book did a really great job at finding a balance between showing the more subtle and heavier transphobia trans people deal with in their day-to-day lives while also showing the love and support and just the happy I've said this before and I'll say it again: it's really such a special thing to see your identity represented in middlegrade. I've read a few books with non-binary main characters so far, but never one in middlegrade, and it really means a lot. It's just such a healing experience. This book did a really great job at finding a balance between showing the more subtle and heavier transphobia trans people deal with in their day-to-day lives while also showing the love and support and just the happy moments. In that way, it dealt with important and very real themes while being an inherently pretty uplifting and really empowering book. Ciel was a really lovely main character, and one I could really see myself in. And it was great to see multiple trans characters in one book as well, because it shows how there are so many different ways to be trans. CWs: transphobia, misgendering

  2. 4 out of 5

    Fanna

    September 16, 2020: This was so much fun to read for all the happiness it brought through a transgender's story that doesn't completely focus on transition or hardcore discrimination that transgenders experience. It's more about an individual non-conforming trans middle-grader's story as they start high school while being a popular Youtuber, best friends with someone who isn't as ready as Ciel to take on their trans identity in the school corridors, and in a long distance relationship with their September 16, 2020: This was so much fun to read for all the happiness it brought through a transgender's story that doesn't completely focus on transition or hardcore discrimination that transgenders experience. It's more about an individual non-conforming trans middle-grader's story as they start high school while being a popular Youtuber, best friends with someone who isn't as ready as Ciel to take on their trans identity in the school corridors, and in a long distance relationship with their boyfriend. Not only is the book great for the under-represented sexual identity but but also features a young boy who loves to dress up as well as some realistic observations around how deeply rooted many are in the binary genders and the subtle yet horrific transphobic experiences. A definite recommendation for those who wish to read a story about a young transgender simply living and enjoying their life while also bringing light to unneeded yet inevitable struggles they always face. The author is ownvoices for the transgender representation. However, I'm not an ownvoices reader so please pay heed of the more authentic reviews before mine. A digital review copy was received via Edelweiss.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Monika

    This is a character-driven, slice-of-life, coming-of-age novel featuring a gender nonconforming trans kid named Ciel as they start their first year of high school in Montreal. For my fellow American readers (I had to google this myself), that covers ages 12-17. Ciel and their friends are on the lower end of that age range, so this is solidly a middle grade novel. Kids will relate to the excitement and anxieties that come with being in a new school, making new friends, having crushes, further exp This is a character-driven, slice-of-life, coming-of-age novel featuring a gender nonconforming trans kid named Ciel as they start their first year of high school in Montreal. For my fellow American readers (I had to google this myself), that covers ages 12-17. Ciel and their friends are on the lower end of that age range, so this is solidly a middle grade novel. Kids will relate to the excitement and anxieties that come with being in a new school, making new friends, having crushes, further exploring one's own identity, and having the courage to be themselves. Ciel's inner dialogue will resonate really well with tweens and young teens. Best of all, trans and nonbinary kids get to see themselves in a happy, wholesome, feel-good read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    SaraCat

    First, I want to thank NetGalley and Second Story Press for giving me early access to this book in exchange for an honest review. I greatly enjoyed this story. It is a very character driven story that follows the main character Ciel through the first few weeks of high school. The ending style was not at all what I normally except, especially for books aimed at younger readers, but, I think it was a perfect way to end this particular book. And while the ending doesn't suggest at a sequel, I do hop First, I want to thank NetGalley and Second Story Press for giving me early access to this book in exchange for an honest review. I greatly enjoyed this story. It is a very character driven story that follows the main character Ciel through the first few weeks of high school. The ending style was not at all what I normally except, especially for books aimed at younger readers, but, I think it was a perfect way to end this particular book. And while the ending doesn't suggest at a sequel, I do hope that Labelle will write about these characters again. Many of the emotions and types of thoughts Ciel goes through are ones that anyone who is a teenager, or an adult who can remember what it was like to be a teenager, can relate to: how to make and keep friends, how much of your true self do you feel comfortable revealing to others, etc. Though, some of the specific things Ciel deals with are specific to those who identify as nonbinary or transgender. Sometimes, in books that have a younger main character, they can come across as a child/teenager as imaged by an adult. However, I think Labelle did an excellent job capturing the voice of a teenager. Since Ciel is at that age when all people, even those who aren't exploring or questioning their gender identity, are still trying to learn and understand about themselves and others better, there is a decent amount of Ciel explaining about themselves and their identity. If they were an older character who already understood more about their identity, the time spent exploring Ciel's mind on identity might have made the book feel like it was aimed at a non-LGBTQ audience. But, considering the age group this book is aimed it, it feels more like it is a book that could help those who are trying to better understand their identity know that it's okay to question and that they aren't alone.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Pineo

    Review by Lisa Pineo *I received this eARC from NetGalley and Edelweiss+ in return for an honest review. My ratings: * I hated it ** It was okay *** I liked it **** Really good ***** Great TW (trigger warnings): transphobia, misgendering Ciel by Sophie Labelle is a contemporary middle grade/YA novel with great LGBTQ representation but a problematic story. 4 stars Description from the publisher: Ciel is excited to start high school. A gender non-conforming trans kid, Ciel has a YouTube channel and dr Review by Lisa Pineo *I received this eARC from NetGalley and Edelweiss+ in return for an honest review. My ratings: * I hated it ** It was okay *** I liked it **** Really good ***** Great TW (trigger warnings): transphobia, misgendering Ciel by Sophie Labelle is a contemporary middle grade/YA novel with great LGBTQ representation but a problematic story. 4 stars Description from the publisher: Ciel is excited to start high school. A gender non-conforming trans kid, Ciel has a YouTube channel and dreams of getting a better camera to really make their mark. Ciel can always rely on their best friend, Stephie, a trans girl who also happens to be a huge nerd. But their friendship begins to feel distant when Stephie makes it clear she wants the fact that she’s trans to be less visible now that they’re in high school. While navigating this new dynamic with Stephie, Ciel is also trying to make a long-distance relationship work with their boyfriend Eiríkur, who just moved back to Iceland. Add to the mix a cute swim star named Liam, and Ciel’s life is becoming more complicated by the minute! I had high hopes for this book because I love Sophie Labelle's Assigned Male comics. For me, reading the whole book as one idea wasn't as satisfying as reading the comic strip online, or even a whole comic book. The narrator seemed like a tween (which she was) but was dealing with teen issues. The author had her starting high school which for some kids is at 13 (my kids go to elementary from age 5 to 12 and high school from 13 to 18, meaning they start high school in grade 8) but most kids have middle school. This, along with 12 year olds being in long term relationships, pre-teens having years of time on social media, and dealing with heartbreak, but then making childish comments about it being “unfair and selfish” of her boyfriend's parents to move back to their hometown and not consider her and her 12 year old BF's relationship, made the book jarring. Things I did like: the main character is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, there are two other secondary trans kids as well as multiple other LGBTQ characters. Transphobia, misgendering, problems with using the school's gendered washrooms, having teachers use different names for Ciel (but not her chosen name), kids being at different levels of comfortableness with their identity and how many people know about it, are all dealt with realistically and I felt the authenticity of the situations as the author is transgender herself. All in all, I did enjoy the book as there are only a few well written middle grade books with transgender characters and would recommend this novel to people looking for that specific genre.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I received a copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Look at this, I'm back in the reviewing business! Woo! And if I'm lucky, I'll see a fox. Keywords: transgender, nonbinary, middle-grade Ciel was the first book I read by Sophie Labelle, although I've been following her online comics for a long time now, so I was already familiar with some of the characters. Ciel as a character has been an inspiration for me as somebody who is unapologetic about their transness and their appearance I received a copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Look at this, I'm back in the reviewing business! Woo! And if I'm lucky, I'll see a fox. Keywords: transgender, nonbinary, middle-grade Ciel was the first book I read by Sophie Labelle, although I've been following her online comics for a long time now, so I was already familiar with some of the characters. Ciel as a character has been an inspiration for me as somebody who is unapologetic about their transness and their appearance. These kids are so much stronger than I could have been in high school - but maybe it would have helped if I had examples like these in the books I read. Ciel is a great book because it has several (THREE!) transgender main characters, as well as a cis (?) little brother who likes wearing dresses and doing feminine things, so it really portrays a variety of experiences without making any of them be "The Trans Experience". In school, Sophie, who was out and proud in middle school, would prefer to go stealth and not be known as "the trans girl" in their new high school. Ciel is conflicted about this, and also faces the problem where it is pretty much impossible for nonbinary people to "pass" as their real gender, because people are so deeply stuck in binaries. Ciel is also a great book because the characters in it all appear as real people, with their own interests and love troubles and whatnot. I mean - WE knew trans people were real people, but it's always nice to show that to the rest of the world! We have three different trans experiences in this book, as well as many different allies who are doing their best in different ways. Finally, Ciel is a great book because it shows how far we have to go even as a community. I have sadly experienced in both online and offline LGBT groups that the LGB part very often can be transphobic, and even the binary T can be very exclusionary and hostile towards nonbinary people. Ciel's experience at the GSA is sadly very close to some of my experiences in cis queer spaces, and their conflict with an older trans girl is very close to some of my experiences in trans groups. All in all, Ciel (the book!) is both realistic and uplifting, and a good way to maybe introduce cis children to the topic of trans kids.

  7. 4 out of 5

    KappaBooks

    Real rating: 3.5 stars Read this review and others like it on my blog, Kappa Reads! ARC received from NetGalley. I've read Sophie Labelle's comics and so when I saw she had a book coming out, I had to grab an ARC. This is a cute slice-of-life novel about entering high school as a nonbinary teen. I feel like the author really hit the uncertainties of freshman year well, with stress regarding coming out again to teachers, gender presentation, and keeping and making friends. This book was really compreh Real rating: 3.5 stars Read this review and others like it on my blog, Kappa Reads! ARC received from NetGalley. I've read Sophie Labelle's comics and so when I saw she had a book coming out, I had to grab an ARC. This is a cute slice-of-life novel about entering high school as a nonbinary teen. I feel like the author really hit the uncertainties of freshman year well, with stress regarding coming out again to teachers, gender presentation, and keeping and making friends. This book was really comprehensive in it's portrayal of being trans. Ciel, the main character, is half-Brazillain and nonbinary, but doesn't mind being perceived as feminine and will use Alessandra in classes. They're friends with Stephie, a trans girl who wants to go stealth in high school and later means Liam, a trans boy, who swims competitively. They represent a wide array of how people can be trans and I really appreciated that. Also, I think all of these characters are on hormone blockers, so I'm really excited that that was entirely normalized! One complaint I had was that the secondary characters didn't have very fleshed out storylines and I feel there was more potential for that, especially with Liam and Stephie. Some dialogue and narration felt weirdly worded as well, but not enough to take away my enjoyment of the story. I rated this book 3.5 stars! This is the middle grade trans book I've been waiting for, and I'm excited there are trans kids who are going to be able to read this!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Eddie

    Thanks so much to Netgalley and Second Story Press for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review! Ciel is a cute, heart-warming book about a non-binary teen who is struggling with starting high school, a long distance relationship, and their relationship with their best friend Stephie. The book tackles a lot of issues in a short period of time, and does so in a respectful, thoughtful way that absolutely feels appropriate for the target audience. I think Ciel is a great protagonist Thanks so much to Netgalley and Second Story Press for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review! Ciel is a cute, heart-warming book about a non-binary teen who is struggling with starting high school, a long distance relationship, and their relationship with their best friend Stephie. The book tackles a lot of issues in a short period of time, and does so in a respectful, thoughtful way that absolutely feels appropriate for the target audience. I think Ciel is a great protagonist for non-binary, trans, and cis kids alike. They're fun, smart, and ambitious, and it's enjoyable to watch them succeed at their goals. It hurts when they're hurt by the people around them, but Ciel generally has an optimistic outlook and their life, and that's good. Ciel as a narrator also takes the time to explain a lot of concepts about gender in very clear ways that don't feel condescending. I hope that the kids who read this book gain a better understanding of what it means to be non-binary. There are also multiple trans characters besides Ciel, and it's nice to see those characters existing and being happy together. There are a lot of mentions of transphobia in this book, but I think they're handled well and don't go into a territory that would be difficult for middle grade readers to handle. Ciel addresses most of these moments and takes them in stride. In terms of educational but enjoyable content, I think the book hits the nail on the head. It's fun, keeps things relatively light, but also gives a voice to a group of people who are under- and misrepresented in the media quite a lot. My only problem with the book is that I felt like it ended somewhat abruptly, and not every issue was entirely resolved. This is absolutely fine, and true to real life, because not everything can be tied up in a pretty little bow, but I do wish there had been a clear resolution between Ciel and Stephie. Stephie is a trans girl who has decided that upon entering high school, she doesn't want to be known as "the trans kid" anymore, and so she doesn't tell any of her new friends that she's trans. This puts a strain on Stephie and Ciel's relationship, because Ciel, who doesn't identify within the gender binary, is much more "obviously" trans and doesn't want to hide that part of themself. In fact, Ciel has a YouTube channel where they talk about their experiences, and one of their videos talking about how pointlessly gendered the bathrooms at their school are ends up going viral. Ciel can tell that Stephie is pulling away from them slightly, and understands why, but they never have an open conversation with Stephie about the problem. Instead, the narrative ends with them still ambiguously being friends, just not as close as before. When the book ends, Ciel has also just started to form a closer relationship with a trans boy from their school, Liam. Again, I think this is pretty realistic. It's a good representation of how relationships shift and change as people grow up and apart or together. But in terms of the narrative, it left me wanting more. It felt like an awkward ending that didn't quite tie up all the loose ends but also didn't suggest to me that there would be a sequel to address everything. I'd love to see a sequel though! Overall, I quite enjoyed this book, and I hope a lot of middle grade readers also get to enjoy it and feel represented or learn something or both!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andee

    BLOG|INSTAGRAM|TWITTER|YOUTUBE Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book really nails it on the head with representation. Ciel addresses the things they directly experience, from the blunt way young people experience things. Additionally, this book is very much a contemporary slice of life look at Ciel. With that being said, I struggled with some aspects of this book. I was never quite sure how old Ciel and their friend BLOG|INSTAGRAM|TWITTER|YOUTUBE Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book really nails it on the head with representation. Ciel addresses the things they directly experience, from the blunt way young people experience things. Additionally, this book is very much a contemporary slice of life look at Ciel. With that being said, I struggled with some aspects of this book. I was never quite sure how old Ciel and their friend group was. Sometimes they felt 12, sometimes (when discussing dating) they felt older. Additionally, I could not tell you distinctly the plot of this book. It felt somewhat aimless in that, things simply happened as moments, while rarely being tied together to any greater plot. If you simply want to read about a kid having fun with friends and experiencing some hard life stuff, then this book is great! If you want a book with a plot that can be followed and a satisfying conclusion, this won't be that book for you. Perhaps this would have carried over better as a comic, which is what our author is known for. The dialogue was always incredibly fun, and slice of life tends to read better that way (in my opinion). If this book had a little bit more plot or character growth, I would say it's great for kids to read. Unfortunately, I just don't think they'd be as interested in slice of life content as adults. However, I do have to give it credit for its conversations about non-binary trans experiences and how they differ from binary-trans experiences. As a non-binary person, I really appreciated the way that Ciel looked at things and brought them up to people. The way Ciel was bullied tugged on my heartstrings as something I've always worried about, even in my big adult age. All in all, this was an interesting read, but I would give it 2.5/5 stars as my official rating.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rendz

    TW: Transphobia, Misgendering, Racism, Xenophobia *I would like to thank Second Story Press for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!* This was a lovely story about embracing who you are and navigating a new and scary environment. As a gender non-conforming trans teen, Ciel enters high school not exactly knowing what to expect from their peers or teachers. Deciding to fly under the radar seems like the best decision for them, but things get complicated when their BFF dec TW: Transphobia, Misgendering, Racism, Xenophobia *I would like to thank Second Story Press for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!* This was a lovely story about embracing who you are and navigating a new and scary environment. As a gender non-conforming trans teen, Ciel enters high school not exactly knowing what to expect from their peers or teachers. Deciding to fly under the radar seems like the best decision for them, but things get complicated when their BFF decides to hide the fact the she is trans and seems to make quick friends with other girls. Then there is Ciel's long distance relationship with their boyfriend that seems to be crumbling. There is no need to despair though because Ciel's YouTube channels starts booming and a cute boy has also caught her eye! This story was very short and sweet and to the point! It feels more like a "two weeks in the life" kind of novel as we follow Ciel through their first weeks at high school as they learn more about themself. There wasn't really a plot per se, and it didn't have that true climatic moment, but I liked the simplicity of the narrative and Ciel's voice was strong through and through! This book touches upon some hard topics, as seen with the trigger warnings, but it is also a story about Ciel finding joy in this new era of their life! Their relationships to family and friends takes utmost importance and I really loved reading about how they worked through the tougher times together! It's about a trans kid living trying to live their best life! Being trans is who they are, but not all that they are and I loved that in reading about their daily life we got to see what makes them happy and sad and excited and silly and anxious! It's about making new friends, dealing with a new school, getting creative, working towards your goals and finding the courage to just be yourself! This book definitely feels like that perfect in-between Middle Grade and Young Adult! Ciel is about 14 and just starting high school, so I think this will appeal to tweens and teens alike!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Aakanksha Singh

    Ciel by Sophie Labelle is a heart warming novella about the fears and assertions of a gender non conforming trans kid Ciel. She is about to enter high school. Any kid would feel the butterflies on the first day. For Ciel it is even more because she fears how her teachers and classmates will respond to her idea of fluid gender. Luckily she has a best friend Stephie who is also trans but does not want to be open about it unlike Ciel. Ciel's days begin with her waking up realllly early to deliver t Ciel by Sophie Labelle is a heart warming novella about the fears and assertions of a gender non conforming trans kid Ciel. She is about to enter high school. Any kid would feel the butterflies on the first day. For Ciel it is even more because she fears how her teachers and classmates will respond to her idea of fluid gender. Luckily she has a best friend Stephie who is also trans but does not want to be open about it unlike Ciel. Ciel's days begin with her waking up realllly early to deliver the newspaper. She wants to earn enough to buy a camera and tripod that will help her make better videos for her YouTube channel, Ciel is Bored. The novel is a simple, quick read that brings out the several issues around trans kids and the uncertainties and problems they face because of mainstream binary gendered outlooks. For instance, Ciel has trouble choosing what bathroom to use and only visits it when no one is around. She speaks about it on her channel as well. This does not mean that Ciel only faces problems and is troubled at her high school. The writer captures the small moments of support she receives, be it from her father, her friend or even her teachers who are willing to accept and understand. It is a beautiful novel which ends on a superbly positive and uplifting message of being true to oneself!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bel Riddle

    I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley and I’m very thankful! Love me some own voices trans nonbinary rep, SPECIALLY in a middle-grade That being said: I was very lost for the first… 15% of the story, and I remained somewhat lost after that, only that I didn’t care anymore because the story just lets you keep reading without worries. BUT midway through the book I felt like maybe this would work be I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley and I’m very thankful! Love me some own voices trans nonbinary rep, SPECIALLY in a middle-grade <3 And so cute, and light-hearted, and in a kinda positive tone. Love this to heaven and back. That being said: I was very lost for the first… 15% of the story, and I remained somewhat lost after that, only that I didn’t care anymore because the story just lets you keep reading without worries. BUT midway through the book I felt like maybe this would work better as a comic book. And it’s because I found no substantial, book deep plotline. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I think comics have less plot than a MG novel, it’s just that this book in particular is… daily events based. It’s a chronicle of the first two weeks of the protagonist’s first year of high school, and it really would have worked GREAT in a comic format. That I thought BEFORE knowing who the author was and her previous work and I wasn’t surprised when I read about it. Also, I feel like I didn’t get to know the characters, and some plotlines went to nothing (like Martin, or Stephie’s boyfriend??? Or the mean youtuber?), and I would love to, because Ciel is a great protagonist. They’re strong minded and determined, and they’re in that age where they’re forming themselves and I would have really loved to explore them more deeply. Anyway; the most positive notes of this book are, obviously, the rep (trans boy, trans girl, nonbinary kid, and we even got some latino rep, which I always appreciate) and the themes of family and friendship and the importance of having people who understand and loves you, beautifully approached. I specially loved the ‘new friends’ issue: making friends in HS can be hard for any kid, and Ciel’s worries and concerns are VERY valid. I liked the youtube subplot and I think lots of kids are gonna feel connected with that aspect of Ciel’s life, I’d have loved to see more of that as well. I will definitely be on alert with this book and recommend it to everyone!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Re •

    Thank you so much to Second Story Press for the ARC of this book! I think this book is so important for the younger generation and is just so soft, sweet and hits on various points on Transness and being a non-binary individual. I wish I had this book to help me as i navigated my feelings about my gender. I still am constantly questioning but to have this OUNCE representation in a book is wonderful. I found the small but important conflicts very realistic in this I guess coming of age from the tr Thank you so much to Second Story Press for the ARC of this book! I think this book is so important for the younger generation and is just so soft, sweet and hits on various points on Transness and being a non-binary individual. I wish I had this book to help me as i navigated my feelings about my gender. I still am constantly questioning but to have this OUNCE representation in a book is wonderful. I found the small but important conflicts very realistic in this I guess coming of age from the transition of middle/elemtary school into highschool. There was strong presence of parental support which I think is just so pivotal in stories for younger children. Please check this book out if you can it made me smile and feel those familiar feels of awkwardness.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    First of all, I'm a cisgender, white woman and can only review this book from this perspective :) I read a lot of books that contain diverse characters because I love the Queer world and diverse characters appeal to me. That being said, I can't speak to the "authenticity" of the "Trans" experience... because I'm not trans. What I can do... is read a book like this by an own-voices author and speak to what I learned... or what appealed to me about it. I hope that makes sense. Ciel is beginning a n First of all, I'm a cisgender, white woman and can only review this book from this perspective :) I read a lot of books that contain diverse characters because I love the Queer world and diverse characters appeal to me. That being said, I can't speak to the "authenticity" of the "Trans" experience... because I'm not trans. What I can do... is read a book like this by an own-voices author and speak to what I learned... or what appealed to me about it. I hope that makes sense. Ciel is beginning a new year at High School. Ciel identifies as trans and also non-binary. At home, Ciel's father is great about allowing Ciel to wear what they want and be however they want. I loved the way this relationship was described in the book. My hope is that more children will begin to grow up in homes in which they are allowed to express themselves however they want.... just be who they are. When Ciel returns to school it's with their best friend Stephie at their side. They are adorable friends, always supportive and sweet. The one thing that is different for these two is that Stephie doesn't want people to know that she is trans while Ciel is very public. Ciel even has a youtube channel on which they post videos about being trans and non-binary. I thought this was a great choice by the author for demonstrating that people are different in terms of how they want to express themselves and their gender identities. There are some lovely scenes in this book when Ciel explains things to their friends/ classmates. There is a brave discussion at an LGBTQIA group at school during which Ciel points out that all those in attendance should give their name and pronouns. Not everyone is aware that there are more pronoun choices than "he" and "she" and Ciel takes the time to explain. Ciel is also dealing with a long-distance relationship with their boyfriend Eirikurl. He used to live in Montreal but he has returned to Iceland with his family. Ciel is finding that Eirikur doesn't contact them as much as they had hoped. It's a learning experience for Ciel. In my mind, the First year of high school is fifteen or sixteen years old. The characters in this book read as younger than that to me. I just wouldn't want anyone to pick this up thinking it was a "young adult" book. This is a great book for young folks who may be exploring their own gender identity, or those who just want to learn about it. There are some great explanations in the book. My review will be posted on my blog on August 15, 2020

  15. 4 out of 5

    ashes ➷

    (I received an ARC from NetGalley. Thank you!) INCOMING: REVIEW BY ACTUAL NONBINARY BISEXUAL PERSON! For the trans people who hate scrolling for hours trying to get a review from someone who knows what they're talking about. Also, very cool that there's a book out about a kid younger than I was when I realized I was bisexual... who already knows they're both bisexual and nonbinary. My actual rating for this book is 3.5, and it was a hard one to come to. I thought this over for several days, becau (I received an ARC from NetGalley. Thank you!) INCOMING: REVIEW BY ACTUAL NONBINARY BISEXUAL PERSON! For the trans people who hate scrolling for hours trying to get a review from someone who knows what they're talking about. Also, very cool that there's a book out about a kid younger than I was when I realized I was bisexual... who already knows they're both bisexual and nonbinary. My actual rating for this book is 3.5, and it was a hard one to come to. I thought this over for several days, because this book is so many things it's difficult to rate. I will definitely say that if the overall rating was at a 3, I would've rated at 4 on GR. Firstly: trans book. It has to be said. There are precious few trans books out there, and rating them can be difficult because there's rarely something better. In terms of trans stuff, this book is great! I like that Ciel uses both she and they pronouns, which is rare to see. They're actually friends with fellow trans people, which is something I desperately want to see more of in books. They espouse a lot of beliefs I've had-- for example, that it would be so much easier if the whole school was trans. In terms of trans rep, I honestly don't think you can get much better than this. Secondly: plot. Here's where I ran into some trouble. I couldn't tell you seriously what this book was majorly about, because it's about Ciel. There's no one big conflict. It's just slice of life Ciel going to school and making friends and doing their paper route. And in the end... well, that's fine. I was a little uninterested early on because there's no real 'hook', but as I kept reading I found it increasingly entertaining. So it's not boring by any means. You can tell I am still not sure what I thought! I need to get away from thinking only in terms of what's 'expected', I guess. Thirdly: politics. This is not going to be like George or... struggles to think of another trans book. Well, a non-preachy trans book, anyway. And, honestly, I was fine with that. Ciel thinks about politics and policy and transphobia because they ARE trans, and though I'm sure some may take issue with the open political talk, it's nowhere near as overt as Assigned Male (which I will personally admit is quite soapboxy) and it fits in fairly well. It's mostly Ciel going "hey, why ARE cis people rude about that?!" in a very age-appropriate way. It's endearing. I'm just going to get into everything else now, because I think those are the most important general thoughts I had, and you know I'm going to nitpick. (If I leave a review under 5 stars, I intend to tell the author why, so they can decide for themself what they want to do in future works.) First, I want to list some things I really liked. Again, the amount of trans characters. It was wonderful to have a cast with this many trans people AND this many supportive cis people! It's also common for cis writers to go "there are two kinds of parents of trans kids: Pure Evil and Perfect Ally," which is obviously not true. It's refreshing to read a trans person's narrative because Labelle actually knows what this is like, and she's open with the differences in approaches by different parents. She's also able to maintain characters who may be misinformed, but not pure evil. Stephie goes undercover, and Ciel struggles. They understand why Stephie wants to just act cis, but... they're nonbinary! What can they do? I actually wish that this was better summed-up, because it ends up kind of being a collection of 'moments' (eg not knowing what name to use for themself, pretending to be a cis lesbian (?) at the GSA to avoid coming out as nonbinary, etc) rather than a meditation on how this sort of issue might be handled. That said, it is a real problem for many-- so I'm glad just to see it addressed. Ciel's little details are wonderful. The book opens telling us about how they always wake up two minutes before their alarm, and they continue to be quirky and adorable throughout. It's a wonderful touch for a middle grade book-- Ciel seems like a real kid, with real uniqueness. Their paper route and their Icelandic boyfriend and their emails are all great touches. Okay now I nitpick. My first odd little moment was having no idea how high school worked. When I was fifteen, I got my first partner, and it ended badly because I was fifteen. These kids have dated before? MULTIPLE TIMES? To be fair, I'm very out of touch with both the original comic and the Kids These Days, but... multiple boyfriends by the age of 15... I guess this is not a nitpick so much as a ?! moment. It's not necessarily unbelievable, just.... ?!. Especially because this is a middle grade book, so I went back and forth thinking "how is this romance they're just a boy and girl who are friends" and "well it's a middle-grade book what do I expect them to do." Also mildly odd that, well, I couldn't really get a handle on whether Stephie or Ciel were ever friends with guys. Each time either of them meets a guy, it is Romanceville. But why?! But again this is mostly ?! and has very little to do with my rating. The translation is... odd. Or perhaps it's the phrasing. It just doesn't sound like an English-language middle grade book. Perhaps it is just the translation; it doesn't sound like a kid with their slang. Especially little things like "Stephie is eating with her girlfriends." Younger kids almost never say that, especially not now. You'd just say "Stephie is eating with her friends" or something to that effect. This doesn't ruin the book, but it affects one's reading experience. My real issue, which cost this book about a star. The YouTube Channel. Why does Ciel, a freshman in high school, have a YouTube channel. Throughout the book, they run into trouble with it-- I'll put it under a spoiler bracket, but if you've ever so much as heard of YouTube, you can guess. (view spoiler)[ A rival trans YouTuber, apparently an adult woman, makes a video mocking them. They watch this video. It gives them a ton of hateful comments, many racist and transphobic, on their video. They do not tell their father and instead remove the comments on their own, spending time every day to get them off. They then make a response video, the reception to which we do not see. Stephie makes some comments about having been on YouTube/on shows because she transitioned so young, but she says her mother took care of all that. (hide spoiler)] My question is... why do they keep this channel. It doesn't appear to actually do them any good, and especially with the problems Society At Large is having right now with famous children and famous children online specifically, one would think promoting seeking fame as a trans child would be avoided at all costs. But no. The book, despite presenting a hundred negative results of this channel, doesn't at all address the idea of... maybe not having it. Privating it. Having a series of videos for Ciel's friends to watch. Having the channel without comments on (permanently.) Having a channel monitored by their dad (who seems to have no idea about it.) This put a major dent in the book for me, because it's a kids' book. Kids are going to read this. I would not recommend any books promoting online drama or fame-seeking. That said... I still read the book myself. And it was cute and it was good and I don't feel that I wasted my time or would've been better off reading something else. It was worth that read, even if I don't read it again, and if you're a trans book completionist... well, keep reading. DO I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK? To kids: probably not, for the aforementioned YouTube channel. I'm sorry. It squicks me out. I would not trust them to pick up on the nuance. To adults: sure, if you like the comic; part of the reason I requested was that I know the comic. Otherwise, it's certainly written in a middle-grade style, so I'm (waves hand noncommittally) in terms of adult readers. Oh, and if you're looking for anything trans! That's definitely the main reason I read it, and I wasn't disappointed there. So, again, trans book completionists-- it's a great book if you're looking to read every well-written book about trans people.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hallie

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I really like #ownvoices books, especially for young readers. That is why I really wanted to love this book. It is clear that the author put a lot of heart in this book, especially with the protagonist, Ciel. I also loved their best friend, Stephie. However, there was not much of a plot at all to this story. I understand the author comes from a background of writing comics, and th Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I really like #ownvoices books, especially for young readers. That is why I really wanted to love this book. It is clear that the author put a lot of heart in this book, especially with the protagonist, Ciel. I also loved their best friend, Stephie. However, there was not much of a plot at all to this story. I understand the author comes from a background of writing comics, and that makes a lot of sense when reading this. It probably would have made a very good weekly webcomic, seeing what Ciel is up to every week. However, as a novel, I feel it needed a tighter plot. Overall, I felt the representation was really good, and it might be a good way to teach younger readers about trans issues, but I am not sure how entertained an average kid would be by it. Also, it is great for younger trans readers who could see themselves in Ciel and the other trans characters in this book. I really wish the plot was better, because I feel like it had the potential to be a masterpiece.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emily Ozuna

    *INGLÉS/ESPAÑOL* ~ ENGLISH ~ The publisher provided the ARC for this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. First of all, I must say that although I adore LGBTQ + performance books and know that there is a lot of material in the books now (for which I am grateful), I have come to realize that there are not many books that talk about trans or not - binary people. I can literally count on ONE hand the number of novels where this is mentioned, which seems surprising to me because, come o *INGLÉS/ESPAÑOL* ~ ENGLISH ~ The publisher provided the ARC for this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. First of all, I must say that although I adore LGBTQ + performance books and know that there is a lot of material in the books now (for which I am grateful), I have come to realize that there are not many books that talk about trans or not - binary people. I can literally count on ONE hand the number of novels where this is mentioned, which seems surprising to me because, come on, trans and non-binary must have their own voices too! With that said, I must say this story was refreshing for me~. The reason I chose it was precisely to learn more about Ciel, to hear what they have to say, to see the world from their eyes. And to be honest, I was extremely satisfied with what I read. The story centers on Ciel, a teenager who identifies as trans and non-binary and who is about to go through many changes in her life. As they begin their freshman year in high school, Ciel wonders how long they can be in front of other people, how to deal with new classmates, new teachers, and strangers who don't know who they are. It seems that everything is changing, beginning because their best friend, Stephie, wants to keep the secret that she is a trans girl, something Ciel does not agree with. As if that were not enough, there is also the fact that Ciel's boyfriend, Eirikur, has moved and it seems that they are distancing themselves. Too many things are happening in his life, but Ciel is determined to deal with it all, and what better way to do it than to have one goal in mind: buy a new camera to continue his YouTube channel and investigate a certain trans boy who has caught their attention in school. It's just their first year in high school, but Ciel has a lot to say and experience. It is an extremely adorable and quick to read story, I recommend it for children and adolescents because I feel that it is more their style. It's also very easy to sympathize with the adorable Ciel. They have a great voice and a great strength of the story is that the author simply explains the problems or situations that many trans people have gone through. Situations such as discrimination, harassment, even opens our eyes to things as subtle as the wrong approach to the news on the newspaper or the process of accepting that the parents have when they're facing the news that his son or daughter is trans. In my opinion, that's one of the strongest points in the story, I was really able to understand more about Ciel's perspective thanks to the experience they had throughout the book and the things he told. I also really liked Ciel's friendship with Stephie, it made me extremely adorable, and while I would have loved to know more about them or Eirikur or have times when Ciel's YouTube videos were further explained, I thought it was a good read, extremely entertaining and charming. However, while I liked the reading, I can't help but mention that it lacks a plot. Ciel has a lot to deal with (their YouTube channel, their friendship with Stephie, their relationship with Eirikur, their experience at school, their insecurities, determining if they want to be themself at school), but even though all of that connects With Through Ciel, I wish there was a main storyline that would tie all of these issues that Ciel is going through. Still, it was a very good and entertaining read, and with that ending, they really want to know what will happen next. ~ESPAÑOL~ El ARC de esta novela fue proporcionado por la editorial a través de NetGalley a cambio de una reseña honesta. Primero que nada debo decir que, aunque adoro los libros con representación LGBTQ+ y sé que ahora hay mucho material en los libros (Por lo cual estoy agradecida), he notado que no hay muchos libros que hablen sobre personas trans o no binario. Literal puedo contar con UNA mano la cantidad de novelas donde esto se menciona, lo cual me parece sorprendente porque, vamos, los trans y los no binarios también deben tener sus propias voces! Dicho eso debo decir que esta historia fue refrescante para mi~. La razón por la que la escogí fue, precisamente, para aprender más de Ciel, escuchar lo que tiene que decir, ver el mundo desde sus ojos. Y la verdad, quedé sumamente satisfecha con lo que leí. La historia se centra en Ciel, una adolescente que se identifica como trans y no binario y que está a punto de pasar por muchísimos cambios en su vida. Con el inicio de su primer año en la secundaria, Ciel se pregunta qué tan ellos puede ser frente a las demás personas, cómo lidiar con nuevos compañeros de clase, nuevos profesores y desconocidos que no saben quién es. Parece que todo está cambiando, empezando porque su mejor amiga, Stephie, quiere guardar el secreto de que es una chica trans, algo en lo que no está muy de acuerdo. Por si fuera poco también está el hecho de que el novio de Ciel, Eirikur, se ha mudado y parece que se están distanciando. Demasiadas cosas en su vida están sucediendo, pero Ciel está decidida a sobrellevarlo todo, y qué mejor forma de hacerlo que ponerse una meta en mente: comprarse una cámara nueva para seguir con su canal de Youtube e investigar sobre cierto chico trans que le ha llamado la atención en la escuela. Es apenas su primer año en la secundaria pero Ciel tiene muchísimas cosas qué experimentar y decir. Es una historia sumamente adorable y rápida de leer, la recomiendo para niños y adolescentes porque siento que es más su estilo. Además es muy fácil simpatizar con la adorable Ciel. Tiene una gran voz y un gran punto fuerte de la historia es que la autora explica de forma simple problemas o situaciones por las que muchas personas trans han pasado. Situaciones como discriminación, acoso, incluso nos abre los ojos ante cosas tan sutiles como el enfoque erróneo de una noticia o el proceso de aceptación del padre ante la noticia de que su hijo o hija es trans. En mi opinión, ese es uno de los puntos más fuertes de la historia, realmente pude entender más sobre la perspectiva de Ciel gracias a la experiencia que tuvo a lo largo del libro y las cosas que contaba. También me gustó mucho la amistad de Ciel con Stephie, se me hizo sumamente adorable, y aunque me habría encantado saber más de ellas dos o de Eirikur o tener momentos donde se explicara más los videos que Ciel hacía en Youtube, me pareció una buena lectura, sumamente entretenida y adorable. Sin embargo, aunque me gustó la lectura, no puedo evitar mencionar que carece de plot. Ciel tiene muchísimas cosas con las cuales lidiar (su canal de youtube, su amistad con Stephie, su relación con Eirikur, su experiencia en la escuela, sus inseguridades, determinar si quiere ser ella misma en la escuela) pero aunque todo eso se conecta a través de Ciel, me habría gustado que hubiera un plot principal que uniera todos estos problemas por los que pasa Ciel. Aún así fue una muy buena y entretenida lectura y con ese final dan muchísimas ganas de saber qué va a pasar después.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alex Woods

    TW for transphobia, homophobia Thanks to Netgalley and Second Story Press for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. Ciel is an adorably heartwarming story about being a trans kid going into high school amid sudden YouTube fame and finding and losing friends. It’s an equally a beautiful, happy story about friendship and an incredibly poignant look at the challenges trans kids often face both in school and online. One of my favourite things about this story was the slice of life aspect. This isn’ TW for transphobia, homophobia Thanks to Netgalley and Second Story Press for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. Ciel is an adorably heartwarming story about being a trans kid going into high school amid sudden YouTube fame and finding and losing friends. It’s an equally a beautiful, happy story about friendship and an incredibly poignant look at the challenges trans kids often face both in school and online. One of my favourite things about this story was the slice of life aspect. This isn’t a super emotional coming out story, nor does it entirely focus on transphobia- we get to see our main character Ciel do ‘regular life things’, like freaking out about their first day of high school, having sleepovers with their best friend, and keeping in touch with their long distance boyfriend. No trans persons’ life entirely revolves around transphobia and coming out, and this story was perfectly balanced in that aspect. I also really enjoyed how the author tackled multiple different trans experiences through the different trans characters: Stephie, with wanting to be stealth at school and starting hormone therapy, Liam, a trans boy competing in sports and the backlash from that, and Ciel themself, wanting to be comfortable at school without having to explain everything to everyone (and inevitably encountering resistance). And then on top of each character’s individual problems, they had to deal with normal 14-15 year old stuff like homework and friend groups. Overall, this is just a really cute story about trans kids living their lives and being (mostly) happy. ***MILD SPOILERS*** The one thing that didn’t quite sit right with me was that the story felt a little aimless. Don’t get me wrong, I love stories about trans kids just living their lives, but there were little side plots that felt either unnecessary or not explored enough. I wanted to know more about Frank and his relationship to Stephie, and I wanted to see a resolution to Stephie asking Ciel not to talk about trans stuff at school. I also felt Ciel’s boyfriend Eirikur was a bit of a throwaway character- I understand how he was big in Ciel’s life, and that we didn’t really get to see him before he left, but we barely got to know him before he just fully disappeared. And Ciel didn’t seem to learn anything special from him breaking up with them- they were sad for a little while and then they got over it like nothing happened, which made me wonder why the breakup was in the story in the first place. But, I suppose, without a true overarching plot, it is kind of difficult to understand why any choices were made within the book. Overall, I loved the amount of trans characters within the book (the more the better in my opinion!) but the book as a whole felt incomplete. To create completeness, I think the book needed a more concrete plot, just something that could come to fruition at the end of the book. The whole story didn’t need to be tied up in a perfect bow, but maybe one or two tied and curled ribbons would have been nice. I do think that this book will be incredibly important to lots of kids in the world, both for discovering who they are and helping them better understand the experiences of the people around them, and I would definitely recommend it to the middle grade readers out there in the world.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dai Guerra

    I find it important when reading middle grade to keep in mind the audience it was written for. In this case this book is written for ages – and it is very apparent throughout the book which is a great thing. Something that did throw me off about this book was how many opportunities this book had to go deeper into certain topics but it only touched the surface. I think it would have been better if it focused on one thing and not many little things going on in Ciel’s life. Something that is brought I find it important when reading middle grade to keep in mind the audience it was written for. In this case this book is written for ages – and it is very apparent throughout the book which is a great thing. Something that did throw me off about this book was how many opportunities this book had to go deeper into certain topics but it only touched the surface. I think it would have been better if it focused on one thing and not many little things going on in Ciel’s life. Something that is brought up in this book is the difference in experiences between a non-binary and a binary trans person. Through Ciel and Stephie’s experiences in school and with their friends you see the difference in how they interact with the world and also with each other. I think that the distinction between the two is important to include because it is not just a different experience but also they each view their trans identity differently. Something else they show by having these different characters is the difference between a trans person who is clearly trans and one who is stealth. I think that this distinction is important to dhowcase in order to show the privilege someone has in others not knowing you are trans. I recognize there are many layers that go into how someone is seen by society and the way they wish to be seen yet I find it important to recognize the privilege that can come with society thinking your cisgender. I like how Ciel is also an YouTube and how that plays a role in their life. I thought it was important to view their reaction to negative comments and transphobia online. I thought their response was good for their age and love the way they explain those comments to their brother. There’s several instances of transphobia throughout the book yet most of these moments explain why they are wrong. There were moments in which Ciel would explain to the reader why something was transphobic or they would try and insert themselves in those moments to correct someone. While I did enjoy this book and find it good the intended age range, I do feel like the end is unfinished. There was no real plot and the problems that did arise didn’t really solve themselves. The end felt like there was more of the story that needed to be told and so many of the problems that arose were either dismissed or not fully solved. Characters: I like each of the characters that are introduced into the book and like that a majority of the main characters are transgender. Ciel is a latinx non binary person, Stephie is a trans girl, and Liam is a trans boy. I found each of the characters likable but would have liked to see a little bit more of their development. Writing style: I like how Ciel explains a lot of the terminology that they use as words are introduced into the book. I thought that was a great way to educate the audience without distracting from the story. I also thought it was a good way to introduce identities as they appeared in the story through the different

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Thank you to NetGalley and Second Story Press for gifting me with this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Going in, I was very excited to read a book about a non-binary character and their experience of the world. On that front, this book absolutely soared: I learnt about the intricacies of everything from navigating friendships to getting dressed, from being a queer YouTuber to being a kid just starting high school. I really appreciated seeing the world through Ciel's eyes, and from Thank you to NetGalley and Second Story Press for gifting me with this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Going in, I was very excited to read a book about a non-binary character and their experience of the world. On that front, this book absolutely soared: I learnt about the intricacies of everything from navigating friendships to getting dressed, from being a queer YouTuber to being a kid just starting high school. I really appreciated seeing the world through Ciel's eyes, and from their perspective, with an honest style of narration. However, there were a couple of major things that disappointed me about this book, and many of them may be personal. I felt jarred by the uncritical discussion of various teenage themes, and the way the author expected the reader to just accept that two characters this age were in committed, long-term relationships with boyfriends in early high school/ middle school. Although these characters were mainly developed in an age-appropriate way, this contributed to my unease. Yes, debateable things aren't meant to be critically analysed in middle-grade books, but should they be presented entirely uncritically? I'm concerned mostly because it might lead more conservative readers to think that, in turn, the narrator is just uncritically presenting other important viewpoints, when in fact Ciel makes various good arguments about the majority of the trans / gender-related issues. I was also very underwhelmed by the lack of plot / plot resolution and the lack of substantial character development - very few of the things that happened caused any anguish in the protagonist, or for the protagonist to want something. I wanted to have a reason to be passionate about this character, but I struggled to find one. All of these things might just be my personal inclination to have a strong plot / strong character development, rather than a slice of life, and my hesitation to invest in a story which (outside of the broad plot about Ciel being non-binary / trans) seemed to be more or less about social circles, boyfriends and complaining about a life which is ultimately pretty good. That being said, I think this book is VERY important for its incredible representation of trans issues and queer issues generally, and I commend the author for having the bravery to put this story out into the world. Thank you for sharing your experiences - even if I didn't connect with the characters, reading this book has taught me a lot.

  21. 4 out of 5

    It is I

    First of all, I would like to thank you for the ARC of this book which was kindly provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Second of all, thank you for the author for writing this amazing and educational book on trans and non-binary people issues. This book is about a trans-non-binary person who identifies themselves as they/them. Their story starts with Ciel being excited to start a new high school year. However, high school is not an easy place to be, especially First of all, I would like to thank you for the ARC of this book which was kindly provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Second of all, thank you for the author for writing this amazing and educational book on trans and non-binary people issues. This book is about a trans-non-binary person who identifies themselves as they/them. Their story starts with Ciel being excited to start a new high school year. However, high school is not an easy place to be, especially if you are different. Ciel shares the problems they encounter as trans non-binary person, the problems include using gendered toilets or listening for teachers misgendering you or commenting on your physical appearance. The story explains how Ciel feels and with what hostility and problems they need to face on a daily basis. Furthermore, because Cial is a YouTuber the story explores the possibilities of the internet It shows how the internet can be an empowering space for people like Ciel, thus at the same time, it also can have negative consequences due to society's negative and toxic views on the lgbtq+ community. It was interesting to see the exploration of internal transphobia and the spread of hatred in order to get society's acceptance. Lastly, I have truly enjoyed seeing how Ciel's friends and family supported and shared their love for them. Ciel's subtle sense of humour made me laugh more than once. It was good to see the way all the situations were handled and the way gender was deconstructed by explaining how the toxic binary system works. It was great fun and together an educational journey to follow Ciel through their life. Overall it was a quick and easy read. The story is so heartwarming and cute. One negative thing (which is not negative at all), that the ending of the story left me wanting more. We desperately need books like that in the schools and kindergartens in order to avoid all the harmful things which were mentioned in this book. Everyone should read it. I think this book is a good example which represents trans and non-binary people and shows that it is okay to be who they are and it is okay to question your gender and sexuality. Once again thank you for the author for such an amazing book!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shilo Quetchenbach

    I was actually a little disappointed by this one. I really enjoy Sophie Labelle's comics and so I jumped at the chance to read this one early, but I had some issues with it. The characters feel so young! They're in their freshman year of high school, so I guess they are young, and I think this is aimed at middle-grade readers, but then they talk about being in love and dating for two years and like, they're children. Also, it's like one long stream-of-consciousness (with multiple topic jumps per p I was actually a little disappointed by this one. I really enjoy Sophie Labelle's comics and so I jumped at the chance to read this one early, but I had some issues with it. The characters feel so young! They're in their freshman year of high school, so I guess they are young, and I think this is aimed at middle-grade readers, but then they talk about being in love and dating for two years and like, they're children. Also, it's like one long stream-of-consciousness (with multiple topic jumps per paragraph) of a 12-13 year-old on a massive sugar high. It's a bit hard to get into because of that. It also... meanders without a clear plot. It's more of a this happened, then this happened, then this happened, the end. So it feels both authentic to the experience of a young teenager but also not the most satisfying thing to read as nothing really wraps up and not much changes. I think it would have actually worked better as a series of comics. The thing I really like about this book is that it deals with some important issues: what it's like to be trans and nonbinary when a freshman in high school and how to decide whether to be visibly out or not. The different ways Stephie and Ciel approached that were interesting to explore. And the message I got from it of being your authentic self and not being afraid of standing out is a good one. It also deals well with the topic of subtle and more overt transphobia. I would definitely give it to middle-grade and high school kids who are questioning their gender identity - and really any kids in maybe 6th-12th grade who could use a broadening of perspective. I do think it wouldn't be as jarring to read for them as it was for me since it's been a while since I was in high school. *Thanks to Netgalley and Second Story Press for providing an e-arc to review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Renee

    As a parent I hope that I never forget about or downplay how difficult it is to go through a young person’s life making new friends and being accepted for who they are, which is what Ciel struggles with the entire novel. This goes especially for young trans kids who feel the added pressure to want to be accepted and with the knowledge and fear that homophobia and transphobia run rampant. This is a great book for middle schoolers in general. Something that I really love about this book is that it As a parent I hope that I never forget about or downplay how difficult it is to go through a young person’s life making new friends and being accepted for who they are, which is what Ciel struggles with the entire novel. This goes especially for young trans kids who feel the added pressure to want to be accepted and with the knowledge and fear that homophobia and transphobia run rampant. This is a great book for middle schoolers in general. Something that I really love about this book is that it brings up many different situations where people in the book are confused about trans people and other issues, and instead of making those people feel embarrassed or stupid the author has a good way of casually and calmly explaining the answers. I also love Ciel’s dad, who is described frequently in the book as a parent who did not understand what it means to be transgender at the beginning of their child’s transitioning journey, but understood that their job as a parent is to love, care for, and learn everything about their child in order to fill their child’s needs to the best of their ability. A line from the book: “He knows how to help me understand my emotions, instead of telling me what they should be.” I think this is a good message for all young people to learn about how parents should be. 3/5 stars since I felt there wasn’t really a climax or story arc for that matter, and the book really felt like a series of mildly interesting events.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andreína

    Ciel is a non-binary trans kid who is starting high school and is very worried about their friendship with Stephie, who is also trans and doesn't want people at their new school to know. This is a book that's exactly what I love: not a lot of action, just characters having normal days and talking about themselves. We only get to see the first two weeks of Ciel's high school year, but in those days the author manages to tell us about Ciel's friends, family, boyfriend, job and YouTube channel witho Ciel is a non-binary trans kid who is starting high school and is very worried about their friendship with Stephie, who is also trans and doesn't want people at their new school to know. This is a book that's exactly what I love: not a lot of action, just characters having normal days and talking about themselves. We only get to see the first two weeks of Ciel's high school year, but in those days the author manages to tell us about Ciel's friends, family, boyfriend, job and YouTube channel without making it too much. I don't know if Ciel is going to be a kid we'll get to know more about, but I'd love it if this became a series. I strongly believe this is the type of book a young trans kid would need in order to know there are people like them out there in the world. The adults in the story are nice and real, which I consider is something that MG/YA books that I read don't usually have. Overall, I just wished the story was a little bit longer so we could get to know more about characters like the rest of the people at school and Stephie's parents. Still, I'm really impressed on how the ending didn't feel abrupt being such a short final chapter. I hope I get to know more about Ciel soon! I received an e-ARC of this story through NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this opportunity!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Seb

    This is so cute! I read it in one day, since it's pretty short and a quick read. All the main characters were really cute and I loved seeing them just go around being kids while also being trans and queer. There were a few uncomfortable moments displaying some typical transphobia, but it was rarely graphic and always explicitly portrayed it as wrong, usually explained why, and gave some pretty good examples of how to deal with it, which I think is excellent for the children who'll be reading thi This is so cute! I read it in one day, since it's pretty short and a quick read. All the main characters were really cute and I loved seeing them just go around being kids while also being trans and queer. There were a few uncomfortable moments displaying some typical transphobia, but it was rarely graphic and always explicitly portrayed it as wrong, usually explained why, and gave some pretty good examples of how to deal with it, which I think is excellent for the children who'll be reading this. Ciel was really adorable. I loved them and I was so happy everything worked out for them in the end. It's a very lighthearted book with a happy ending, of course, so not for you if you're looking for some big, soul wrenching conflict. But perfect for the kids it's written for. I'm sure this will help lots of trans children in their journeys someday. My only two complaints were wishing it was a little longer (though I understand this is a good length for the intended audience!) and that at times, the writing is a bit awkward. It's always easy to understand, though. Overall, I really loved this! Thank you to NetGalley for the arc :)

  26. 4 out of 5

    A

    Ciel is about a gender non conforming trans teen as they navigate their first year of high school. Ciel is an aspiring YouTuber who documents parts of their life both as a trans person and as human. This was such an adorable short novel. Ciel has an accepting and loving family. Their dad and brother are always there for Ciel. It was also so good to see multiple trans people in this story. Ciel’s best friend, Stephie, is a trans girl who has been friends with Ciel for a long time. Ciel even makes Ciel is about a gender non conforming trans teen as they navigate their first year of high school. Ciel is an aspiring YouTuber who documents parts of their life both as a trans person and as human. This was such an adorable short novel. Ciel has an accepting and loving family. Their dad and brother are always there for Ciel. It was also so good to see multiple trans people in this story. Ciel’s best friend, Stephie, is a trans girl who has been friends with Ciel for a long time. Ciel even makes a new friend in Liam, an accomplished swimmer who also happens to be trans. This book does touch on some heavy subjects such as racism and transphobia. It is a sad reality that people as young as Ciel have to deal with these matter in a many aspects of their lives. It can be so important to showcase these issues in all genres of books. I loved the fact that while Ciel did have insecurities and was affected by what other people said, they also were strong and amazing. Ciel refused to hide who they are. Overall I though this book was just such a relief to read. I unconsciously kept expecting something something worse to happen to Ciel because that is often how trans kids are portrayed but I was happy to be wrong. I tend to steer more towards fantasy books and dramatic contemporary because I enjoy the big climatic moments. I’ve forgotten what a book like this could do to a person. As I closed the book I thought “that’s it”? I wanted more. Books like this can be so crucial especially to young readers. Reading books where the trans characters can just live and be human can be so powerful. I think books like this can inspire hope. I throughly enjoyed Ciel. I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book via Netgalley.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kristel

    *Netgalley arc* 3.75 stars! Ciel was a really cute book and it tackled many heavier issues, like transphobia (also in the queer community) and misgendering. I was so mad at the laughter and mean comments because Ciel just wanted to be their best selves and people just loved to be unnecessary mean and ruining it their everyday school life. I loved all the trans characters represented on page, with all their different experience and different discrimination they were facing. Loved the diversity, and l *Netgalley arc* 3.75 stars! Ciel was a really cute book and it tackled many heavier issues, like transphobia (also in the queer community) and misgendering. I was so mad at the laughter and mean comments because Ciel just wanted to be their best selves and people just loved to be unnecessary mean and ruining it their everyday school life. I loved all the trans characters represented on page, with all their different experience and different discrimination they were facing. Loved the diversity, and loved the little geeky mentions. I'm a Link fan so seeing a Zelda game mentioned brought me so much joy. I did find the language a bit too childish at times, not really fitting the characters ages, but maybe that was just me. I read often middle grade books and the way the characters speak does indeed vary. I wished there a bit more of everything and I would've loved to see more of Ciel's new friendships. The scene with the cookies was just adorable. More of that!! Cute and important with a non-binary mc just living their lives, navigating high school, YouTube videos, friends, and not letting bullies censor you from living your life the way you want!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alex Engels

    Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. I'm a cisgendered, straight women who can only review this book through that lens. The representation in Ciel was (from what I gathered) diverse and a good representation. Ciel is a trans nonbinary teen with other friends who are trans, bi, straight, and there was also a wheelchair-bound side character. The story reads like a young middle grade book. From my understanding, Ciel is going to what I read as a middle school. They read like a young teen (like 12 or 13 Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. I'm a cisgendered, straight women who can only review this book through that lens. The representation in Ciel was (from what I gathered) diverse and a good representation. Ciel is a trans nonbinary teen with other friends who are trans, bi, straight, and there was also a wheelchair-bound side character. The story reads like a young middle grade book. From my understanding, Ciel is going to what I read as a middle school. They read like a young teen (like 12 or 13). I found some parts very preachy at times which I could see being beneficial to some younger readers. The book had basically no plot. It felt more like a slice-of-life for Ciel's first few weeks at their new school. I felt like so many more things could have happened and the book just ended. What happened to the GSA? What happened with Stephie and her dad? Overall, I just wanted more besides the representation. I'm sure this story will be very important to some readers and that's why it's important that it exists.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cheriee Weichel

    This own voices novela introduces us to Ciel, a trans nonbinary teen who is just starting high school. Their best friend, Stephie, is a trans girl. Ciel is in a long distance relationship with Eirikur, a bisexual teen who has moved back to Iceland from Montreal. They are interested platonically, (for now at least) in Liam, a trans boy at the school. It took me a bit to get into this story because the language felt stilted. Soon however I was engaged with the characters. Ciel is a sympathetic kid This own voices novela introduces us to Ciel, a trans nonbinary teen who is just starting high school. Their best friend, Stephie, is a trans girl. Ciel is in a long distance relationship with Eirikur, a bisexual teen who has moved back to Iceland from Montreal. They are interested platonically, (for now at least) in Liam, a trans boy at the school. It took me a bit to get into this story because the language felt stilted. Soon however I was engaged with the characters. Ciel is a sympathetic kid who works hard towards their goals. They get up every morning to deliver papers to raise money to purchase a new video camera. Ciel has a youtube channel where they post videos they have created. After a post about the lack of appropriate nongendered bathrooms at the school goes viral, they get a lot of negative comments. While this distresses Ciel, they have a supportive father and friends, and Ciel handles it well. This book isn't full of angst and action. It's a thoughtful look into the life of teen and their friends who don't fit into the cisgendered world.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karam (bookishskippy)

    4 stars rating i dont know what to say but i totally enjoyed this book it took me by surprise that there was so much to learn from it. This story is about how Ciel was someone who had youtube channel and had a dream of becoming a better mark out there in the world though she was only a high school girl. She had a best friend names stephie whom was a trans girl .Ciel always relies on her but she happens to be a huge nerd which is the total opposite of Ciel. Some of the parts in this book caught me 4 stars rating i dont know what to say but i totally enjoyed this book it took me by surprise that there was so much to learn from it. This story is about how Ciel was someone who had youtube channel and had a dream of becoming a better mark out there in the world though she was only a high school girl. She had a best friend names stephie whom was a trans girl .Ciel always relies on her but she happens to be a huge nerd which is the total opposite of Ciel. Some of the parts in this book caught me by surprise as to how the author manage to share a voice which we teens feel whenever we are being judge from the adults. Ciel did the best to share her thoughts about gender identity, giving them the knowledge and explaining some of the terms which they face and should be treated as dirt. At the end of the day we are all humans. i honestly think that the author did a good job delivering this important message across the non LGBTQ peeps out there to open up and understand this community better. Thank you for the arc @netgallery!

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