Act Cool

Quill Tree/HarperCollins/. Sept. 2021. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780063038561.
Gr 9 Up–August Greene comes to terms with his gender transition in a dramatic way: he leaves home without telling his ultra-religious parents and stays with his aunt in New York City. She helps him land a spot at the most exclusive performing arts high school in town. He’s presenting as male for the first time, learning a new city, jumping into high-pressure drama classes, and finding new friends, all at once. August is constantly trying out new roles and working to fit into his new life and identity, convinced that if he tries hard enough, his parents will change their minds and accept him as a boy. The story presents all of August’s conflicting thoughts, which will help some readers understand how multifaceted and complicated the transgender experience can be. Suicide is discussed, as is conversion therapy, deadnaming, and other potentially triggering scenarios. The plot is also very theater-focused, so it might not appeal to those without a drama background. Some faults lie in shallow development of characters, scattered focus, and an abrupt and somewhat trite ending, but overall, this is a well-paced, unique story.
VERDICT A solid purchase for a school or public library.

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