Book Review: Gender Blender

I was really slow getting on the Blake Nelson train. I just read Paranoid Park last year. Didn’t even know it had been a movie. Still haven’t seen that, but I was in love his writing from the start. When I think of edgy YA fiction, I think of Paranoid Park. That book was dark, met with concepts I hadn’t seen in Young Adult works, and the ending wasn’t tidy. For such a slim book, it hit me in just the right way. So, after I read that, I went to my Goodreads list and marked a few more of his books to read, including Gender Blender.

I dig this cover so hard, I didn’t even read the jacket copy to what this was about. Kenny Holcomb, I hope you design a book cover of mine someday. So, knowing Nelson’s dark and edgy YA style, imagine my surprise when I opened this book to find a middle-grade comedy. Now, it’s not as if the cover I’m so in love with screams or even smirks of darkness, so I’m not sure why I was so surprised. But I was. I normally only read one or two middle-grade novels in a year, and usually it’s out of some sort of duty to a recommendation or because it’s a Newbery winner. So, I was kind of like, huh. But that cover!  And it was Blake Nelson!

I ended up reading it quite happily, as it was intended to be read. And I was very pleased and even more impressed with Nelson for being so versatile a writer. The book is a junior high version of Freaky Friday, and the body switching occurs between a boy and girl who are classmates. Yes there is a boner scene. Yes there is a period scene. Yes they are awkward. And funny. And there’s no way this book could have happened without them. I’m still amazed that any dude would tackle the voice of a junior high girl, and Nelson has done it successfully in this book.

I’m looking forward to more books by Nelson. And I won’t be going in with any subject matter or stylistic expectations next time.

Published by jody sparks

Jody Sparks Mugele spent her first career in marketing writing and leading teams of writers and editors. After her son came out as transgender in 2015, she dedicated herself to advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. For two years, she led the Indianapolis regional chapter of PFLAG, a nationally renowned LGBTQ+ advocacy group. She has given many conference talks about parenting trans kids, healthcare in the trans community, and suicidality among LGBTQ+ youth. And with GenderNexus, an Indianapolis-based advocacy organization, she created programming and led support groups to work with parents to help their children through all aspects of gender transition. She recently moved to Northeast Georgia where she is excited to develop opportunities to continue to strongly and proudly advocate for LGBTQ+ members of our society. She also LOVES kitschy Christmas crafting!

One thought on “Book Review: Gender Blender

  1. Surfing the waves of the web I am pleasantly stranded in this beautiful blog.

    I write under the pseudonym of Josè Pascal (a descendant of the great Colonel Aureliano Buendía).

    I invite you to visit my italian writing blog http://parolesemplici.wordpress.com.
    I define this blog “In parole Semplici” as a “virtuacultural tin” box where they are guarded thoughts, memories, images, sounds, and simple stories. ”

    If you want to participate and to have more informations send me a letter to inparolesempli@gmail.com

    Good life and I hope to soon
    Josè Pascal

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