This is the story of Gabe, a boy who is about to graduate high school and just got his very own weekly show that he calls “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.” But the thing that drives the plot of this book is one little detail: Gabe was born a girl.
For as long as he can remember, Gabe has felt like a boy. But because he is in this girl’s body, he is treated differently. He is defined by the people who perceive him as Elizabeth, despite the feelings he has inside.
And isn’t that crazy? That people can be so offended by the way others choose to act? It’s okay to be confused and it’s okay to ask questions and it’s even okay to be ignorant. We all are ignorant at one point or another. There are certain things that you simply may not know until they come up. Until you become educated. But we cannot promote that ignorance. We must always strive to learn–and if we cannot understand, we must at the very least strive to accept.
This is why I love this book. You start the story with a character that you are just now learning about. Someone who has never existed in your mind before. And you see him develop in front of your eyes.
He’s on the air. He’s playing Green Day and Mika.
Now he’s talking to John, his neighbor and idol.
Now he’s talking to a viewer, and we learn his name is Gabe.
We learn more and more about him, this picture of him in our mind is forming, and then, seven pages later, we learn that he was born a girl: Elizabeth.
That’s the wonderful thing about books: we learn the characters from the inside out. And sure, we can learn of their appearance as well, but those are often the details that can be overlooked. Plots are driven by the actions of characters and these actions are driven by who they are and how they think.
And in the case of this book, a lot of the actions are driven by how others feeling about the appearance of Gabe, but that reveals much more about those characters than it reveals about him.
I think that’s a very important lesson that needs to be taught, and I think this book does a very good job teaching it. The characters are vibrant and lovable and the story is heartbreaking but hopeful.
This was a book that I finished in one night, but will stay with me for a very long time.