4.0 9
by Terence Blacker

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Is he a girl? Is she a boy?

Matthew's American cousin, Sam, has come to London to live with the family. Sam is a charismatic, funny kid, but can he be trusted to be a reliable friend? Matthew and his "mates" decide that Sam must undertake a challenge in order to prove himself: he must start off his new year at their school posing as a girl. It turns


Is he a girl? Is she a boy?

Matthew's American cousin, Sam, has come to London to live with the family. Sam is a charismatic, funny kid, but can he be trusted to be a reliable friend? Matthew and his "mates" decide that Sam must undertake a challenge in order to prove himself: he must start off his new year at their school posing as a girl. It turns out that Sam makes a great girl. He fools everyone and has an electrifying effect at Bradbury Hill School. And the longer the prank goes on, the more hilarious — and serious — the repercussions.

This brilliant novel shines a laser-sharp beam into the perilous territory of early-teen life, in an unforgettable story of chaos, confusion, and cross-dressing.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Blacker brings gender bending to a new level of hilarity and suspense in this contemporary novel set in suburban London. The character of Sam-turned-Samantha will prompt readers to reconsider their preconceptions about the sexes and the roles people play." — Starred, Publishers Weekly

"Amusing gender-swapping tale." — Kirkus Reviews

"A fun addition to middle school collections and simply begs guided discussions about the concept of gender." — School Library Journal

"A lot happens here, and it is all fun. [An] amusing read." — VOYA

"Thought-provoking." — Booklist

"This story is a refreshing introduction to the complexities of gender and self-image. Blacker's style is infinitely accessible and enthralling. Bravo." — SIGNAL

"Boy2Girl is funny, holds the reader's attention, and deals with lots of different subjects with humor, including the death of a parent, weight problems, and divorce... The characters feel like they could be kids at my own school." — Hope, age 14, a Yalsa Teen YA Galley Reader

"I would recommend Boy2Girl for a reluctant reader, male or female, or anyone who just wants a good laugh." —A YALSA Teen YA Galley Reader

Publishers Weekly
Blacker (The Angel Factory) brings gender bending to a new level of hilarity and suspense in this contemporary novel set in suburban London. Matthew, a Year Eight student, is wary when his parents agree to take custody of Matthew's recently orphaned, "tough-guy" cousin from America. True to his rebellious reputation, 13-year-old Sam (whom Matthew characterizes as "an accident in human form") starts stirring up trouble almost as soon as he arrives, insulting Matthew's family and getting into a brawl with one of Matthew's best friends. To get even, Matthew and his gang of buddies invent an initiation rite for Sam: he must attend his first week of school dressed as a girl. Surprisingly enough, not only does Sam agree to the proposition, but passes his "test" with flying colors. Dressed in a skirt, he fools everyone-teachers, the principal, male and female classmates-into believing he is a sassy, fully liberated young lady, destined to become one of the most popular students at Bradbury Hill School. Told from multiple viewpoints (including both teens and adults), the story offers several entertaining twists (such as Sam inheriting a fortune and playing a game of cat and mouse with his long-absent, criminal father). On a more subtle level, the author conveys how Sam undergoes a transformation on the inside as well as the outside. Gradually evolving into a more open, vulnerable and sympathetic adolescent, the character of Sam-turned-Samantha will prompt readers to reconsider their preconceptions about the sexes and the roles people play. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, March 2005: Twelve-year-old Matthew Burton's life is turned upside down when his cousin Sam from America comes to live with his family in England after Sam's mother is killed in a car crash. It's bad enough that Sam is from California and his mother Galaxy was a bit different, to say the least. But now, Sam is going to be attending school at Bradbury Hill with Matt and his pals, and he's not exactly like any of them. To complicate matters, Matt and his Shed gang are at war with a group of girls. Of course, if there was a way to get across enemy lines and find out what they were cooking up, things could get pretty interesting. And since Sam has long blonde hair and no one knows him, he could be the perfect undercover spy. So, the deal is, if Sam goes to school dressed as a girl for five days and infiltrates the gang of girls who are creating trouble with Matt and his gang, then Sam is accepted, is in, is one of the guys. However, when "Samantha" not only infiltrates the girls, but becomes wildly popular, he has no desire to go back to being Sam. Blacker uses gender bending to explore the dynamics between adolescents of both sexes and shows his readers that walking in the other guy's, or gal's, shoes is one of the best ways to understand each other. Readers will laugh at Blacker's characters, complications, and comedic chaos in this lighthearted look at the war between the sexes. Age Range: Ages 12 to 15. REVIEWER: Michele Winship (Vol. 42, No. 1)
School Library Journal
Gr 7-9-What a premise! After his mother's death, Sam, 13, leaves California to live with British relatives. He takes on his cousin's dare and attends his new English school with a fresh identity-as a girl. Sitcomlike high jinks ensue; Sam(antha) isn't just a new girl on campus-"she" teaches the (real) girls how to fight, and the most popular boy falls for "her." And it turns out that Sam's biological father is out of prison and on the hunt for him to get his inheritance. Think Gordon Korman's No More Dead Dogs (Hyperion, 2000) meets Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl (Knopf, 2000), with Sam's pedestal created primarily by the awe awarded him by the comically shallow characters around him, who tell the story through alternating-voice chapters or paragraphs. Blacker's attention to Sam's gender identity is primarily in its laugh appeal; readers will definitely note the lack of plot or character development. However, this is still a fun addition to middle school collections and simply begs guided discussions about the concept of gender.-Rhona Campbell, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Matthew, a British 13-year-old, is all set for a quiet summer of knocking about with his friends when his mother is called away to America to attend the funeral of her wild sister, Galaxy. Matt's quiet summer is shattered further when his mother returns with Sam Lopez, his 13-year-old cousin. Sam's a typical lower-middle-class American teen, and he immediately alienates Matt's friends with his self-important swaggering. As school approaches, Sam wants to be friends with Matt's gang and he suggests an initiation stunt. Matt comes up with the idea of Sam pretending to be Samantha for the first week of school, and Sam surprisingly says yes. Even more surprisingly, Sam becomes every girl's best friend and every boy's lust crush. When Sam's dad, fresh out of prison, arrives sniffing around for money Sam inherited from his mother, everything gets even further out of hand. Everyone involved, except Sam, shares the narration of this amusing gender-swapping tale. Quite different from Blacker's other import, Angel Factory (2002), this farce with a slightly too-convenient ending will please readers looking for light laugh. (Fiction. 11-14)

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.06(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.05(d)
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Boy 2 Girl

By Terence Blacker

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2004 Terence Blacker
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-374-30926-8

Chapter One


It was the moment of truth. The next morning, with Sam in the new uniform my mother had bought him, we set off a few minutes earlier than usual, saying goodbye to my parents at the door as if we were just normal schoolkids rather than soldiers of fortune setting out on a daring mission of revenge.

We walked in the direction of school. When we reached the corner, we looked back and gave my parents one last wave. We turned out of sight. Then we doubled back to the park.

Tyrone was already at the shed. Jake was late.

We nodded a greeting to one another. Without a word, Sam reached into the new shoulder bag my father had bought him for school and took out the plastic bag containing his change of uniform.

"Time for the new me," he said in a matter-of-fact way, then disappeared into the gents' bathroom at the back of the shed.

Two minutes, three. Jake arrived, his shirt hanging out, his hair a mess.

"Overslept," he said. "Where's Sam?"

Tyrone nodded in the direction of the locked door. "Changing into a girl," he said.

I glanced at my watch. We had eight minutes to make the ten-minute walk to Bradbury Hill. "We've got to go," Icalled out, as casually as I could manage.

"All right," Sam snapped. "I'm fixing my hair, OK?"

Jake sighed. "Women," he muttered.

The lock drew back and Sam emerged, stuffing his old clothes into the plastic bag. "Let's go," he said.

Jake stood in front of him. "Final checkup," he said.

We gathered in a semicircle, inspecting the new Sam. My first impression, frankly, was that he was a bit of a disappointment. Back in the sitting room, when he had made his debut in a skirt, he had looked the real thing. Now he was more like a boy in clumsy disguise. His hair was tangled. The skirt looked a bit long. Worst of all, the white shirt seemed to be billowing outwards like a sheet in the wind.

"Isn't there anything you can do about that?" I tugged at the shirt. "Like, tuck it in at the back?"

"It's way too big," Sam said. "What was it with your sister, Jake?"

Jake looked embarrassed. "She was kind of well-developed for her age," he said.

"Great," Sam muttered as he tried to cram the shirt into the waist of his skirt. "Trust you to have a sister with oversize gazungas."

"I know what we could do," said Tyrone. "I'll bring a couple of pairs of socks tomorrow. You can shove them down your front."

Sam's eyes flashed dangerously. "You know what, fat boy? You can shove them where the sun don't shine." He raised a warning finger, then seemed to hesitate, shifting his attention from Tyrone to something behind us.

An old woman with a small dog on a leash was standing on the path, looking at us, an expression of busybody concern on her face.

Miss Wheeler-Carrington

I remember the days when this park was nice. No litter, no dogs roaming like wolves, no swearing. It was a pleasure to come here.

Some people think that one shouldn't worry about such things as bad behavior and nasty language, but I'm afraid that I'm a bit old-fashioned about that sort of thing.

That morning, when I saw this young girl, surrounded by boys, clearly frightened and pale-faced and angry, it made my blood boil. I knew I couldn't just walk by. It's not in my nature.


The old biddy stood there with this terrier, both of them looking at us really defensively, as if we were criminals or something.

"Are you all right, love?" she called out.

We looked at one another, confused.

"Excuse me?" said Matthew.

"I'm not talking to you boys," she snapped. Craning her neck like some kind of bird, she looked beyond us to where Sam was standing. "Are these boys bothering you, dear?" she asked.

It took a moment for Sam to understand. Then he smiled. "Nah," he said.

"That's all right then," said the woman. Darting one more hostile look at us, she walked on. Trouble was, Sam, being Sam, couldn't leave it there.

"Lady, I could whup their sorry asses anytime," he called out.

The woman glanced back, startled, then scurried on, tugging her little dog behind her.


Sam was swaggering ahead of us, hands in pockets, skirt swishing aggressively, like no girl ever did, or ever will.

We followed, each of us with the same thought in our mind. Since no one else was going to say anything, I decided that it was down to me to have a word with Miss Samantha.

"Hey, Sam." I hit a casual, this-just-occurred-to-me tone. "Maybe it would be a good idea if you kind of acted the part too."

Sam started whistling through his teeth-another thing I had never heard a girl do.

I tried again. "I mean, for instance, you didn't exactly behave like a normal girl back there when you talked to that woman."

Sam laughed and kicked a tin can that was on the pavement into the road.

"That's because I'm not a normal girl, doofus," he said.

"The thing is, Sam, if you don't go with this thing, we're all going to be in deep trouble," said Tyrone. "There's no point in dressing up female and acting more male than ever."

"It was your plan, guys," said Sam. "It's kind of late to be wimping out."

"It's not that," I said. "But if this is going to work, you're going to have to be a bit ..." I hesitated, groping in my mind for the right word. "A bit ... girly."

Sam stopped and turned to face us, chewing all the while. "I agreed to wear a skirt, OK?" he said quietly. "Nobody said nothing about acting girly."

Before any of us could reply, he was walking on. "This is just the way we modern girls are," he called out. He jabbed the air in front of him, as if punching some invisible enemy out of the way. "If you can't hack it, that's your problem."


On the way to school that first day of the new term, we made a big decision. No, actually, scratch that-it wasn't a big decision. It was pretty small.

"I've been thinking," Zia said suddenly. "I think I'm through with the Sheds."

"Tell me something new," said Elena. "We're all through with the Sheds."

"I mean, I'm not going to give them a hard time anymore. It's my good resolution for the term. Those boys have suffered enough."

"Ah, poor little things," said Elena.

I had been thinking along the same lines. The whole Burger Bill/police thing had made me feel bad.

"I'm with you, Z," I chipped in. "I heard that poor old Tyrone got grounded for a week."

"You don't mess with the Bitches," Elena muttered.

"Think about it, the Bitches versus the Sheds," said Zia. "How sad is that?"

Elena looked at us. "OK, we'll just ignore them," she said. "Let them get on with their miserable little lives."

"Or," said Zia patiently, "we could actually apologize-put the whole thing behind us."

"Cool with me," I said.

"No way." Elena shook her head decisively.

Zia and I glanced at one another and said nothing. The fact is, El was never quite as tough as she liked to pretend.

After no more than thirty seconds, she shrugged moodily. "Whatever. Maybe it's time for a new chapter."

She walked ahead of us with the air of someone who had sorted out a problem all on her own.


We were a couple of minutes late. The playground was already empty. We ran to the school hall and pushed the door. Everyone was in place, awaiting the arrival of Mrs. Cartwright, the principal, and her staff. As the four of us made the long walk up the center aisle to the remaining free seats in the front row, I was aware of a rustle of interest on each side. I glanced to my left to see Sam smiling this way and that, as if he were some kind of royalty. There was no doubt about it-far from being embarrassed about the whole cross-dressing thing, he was enjoying his moment as the center of attention.


I noticed Matthew walking between the rows of seats. I was just about to make some comment about how typical it was that they'd be late when I remembered that the boys formerly known as the Sheds were meant to be friends, so I kept quiet.

Then I saw this blond girl striding ahead of them, cool as you like. My only thought then was-and who is she?


Notice her? How could anyone miss her? She walked through that hall as if she owned it.


She was chewing gum. That was the first thing I noticed. Bradbury Hill isn't the strictest place, but there's this big no-gum rule that all the teachers enforce as if sticks of gum were drugs or something. And here was this new kid, chewing away in assembly, on the first day of the term.

You've got to admit, that's attitude.

Gary Laird

I didn't see her. I was probably asleep at the time.

Mark Kramer

She was a babe. All the guys looked, and most of them were thinking pretty much the same thing. Well now, what do we have here?


We took our seats, Sam slumping down beside me with all the feminine poise of a boxer taking a break between rounds.

The teachers trooped in and took their places in a double row of chairs at the back of the stage, and moments later Mrs. Cartwright-better known as the Carthorse-made her appearance.

When you first see the principal, it's not the jet-black dyed hair, the broad shoulders, or the brisk, quick-paced walk that you notice but the big, saintly smile on her face. Someone at teaching school must have told her that the best way to deal with kids is to grin your way out of trouble at all times, because Mrs. Cartwright goes about her daily life at school with the goofy, happy air of someone who has some wonderful news that she just longs to tell you.

The effect, when she is dealing with what she likes to call inappropriate behavior, is weirdly scary because, the deeper trouble you are in, the wider the smile on her face. As if playing up to her reputation as a grinning psycho, the principal allows herself now and then to blow her stack, raging at the entire school in assembly when a particular bout of inappropriateness looks as if it might get out of hand. It is rumored that when the stress of school life becomes too much for her, she steps into a storage closet in her office, closes the door behind her, and screams her head off for a couple of minutes before emerging, calmer and with the famous smile back on her face.

So the Carthorse launched into her start-of-the-year speech. There was a bit of chat about the summer vacation and some guff about the school play that was due at the end of the term. She introduced a couple of new teachers, a woman in her twenties and a porky, middle-aged guy who was taking over Year Seven. Then she did something rather unexpected and scary.

After she had introduced the new teachers, she gave us a big, all-inclusive grin and said, "There is someone else I would also very much like to mention at this point. A significant new arrival in Year Eight."


To my left, Tyrone groaned quietly.

"He's joining us from his school on the west coast of America," the principal was saying. "I'm sure you'll all go out of your way to make him feel very welcome."

I tried to swallow, but I found that my mouth was dry.

"Sam Lopez." Mrs. Cartwright peered into the audience, shielding her eyes with her hand like someone scanning the horizon. "Where is he?"

For a few seconds there was a restless stirring in the ranks as everyone looked around them for the new boy.

Then slowly, coolly brushing something from his skirt, Sam took to his feet.

"I'm here, ma'am," he said.


We laughed. That first assembly is always a rather tense occasion, and when this Sam character turned out to be a girl, it broke the atmosphere. It's good when something happens that makes an administrator look a bit stupid, and if that administrator happens to be Mrs. Cartwright and she's standing up in front of the whole school doing her Hitler-at-a-youth-rally act, it's very good indeed.

The American girl looked around at us and grinned, which made us laugh even more. It took several seconds for the Carthorse to restore order.


Mrs. Cartwright's smile became even more fixed and phonier than usual.

"I was under the impression that Sam Lopez was a boy," she said.

"Not this Sam Lopez, she ain't," said Sam, and there was more laughter in the hall.

"You're Sam Lopez, as in Samantha?" she asked.

"Nope." Sam kept to his feet, now clearly enjoying the moment. "I am Sam, ma'am. Sam is what my mom called me."

"She christened you Sam?"

"She was a feminist, ma'am."

The mention of Sam's late mother, or maybe the reference to feminism, seemed to fluster Mrs. Cartwright. "Ah, good, interesting-well, that's the first surprise of the term." She laughed in a tinkling, fake way. "Now that we've discovered exactly what sex you are, Bradbury Hill welcomes you, Sam Lopez."

"Thank you, ma'am." Sam sat down slowly.

Fifteen minutes into the new term and he had already made his mark.

Mrs. Cartwright

It is an important occasion, that first assembly, and frankly I was not very pleased that an administrative error had caused a distraction. As I explained to Steve Forrester later, the fault was not entirely mine. Mrs. Burton had called me during summer vacation. I was not on the ball. The American child had changed schools so often that there were no records of his-of her-past education.

It seemed to me that Mrs. Burton had been referring to a boy, but I assumed I had mistaken "he" for "she." There had been no reason not to assume that Sam was short for Samuel.

As for the child herself, I was vaguely aware that she was showing rather less respect than I would have liked but then, to be fair, this incident of gender confusion had been unusually public. I assumed that her apparent rudeness was a cover-up. Sam was a shy thirteen-year-old girl. I honestly believed that.


Normally I don't like show-offs, but there was something about the new girl that made me want to get to know her. The way she went, "I am Sam, ma'am," when she said her mum was a feminist, like she was shocked that she had to explain it. I suppose it was just that she acted like most of us would like to act in that situation.

It should have been her that was made to look stupid. Instead it was old Carthorse. I was, "Hey, I could get to like this girl."


Sam was flirting with danger. Every kid in the hall knew that-every kid, that is, except for Sam Lopez. And it wasn't the principal that was the problem.


I woke up in the middle of assembly and there was this brat, this new brat, behaving like she was totally it. Who did this skinny little ponytailed dork think she was exactly? It was time for her first lesson in the facts of life at Bradbury Hill.


We were among the last of those emerging from the school hall after the principal had finished her speech. Sam walked beside us, now and then smiling at those who stared at him.

"Stick close to us," Jake murmured, but Sam was having too good a time to pay any attention. As we crossed the playground, the unavoidable, muscular presence of Gary Laird loomed up between us.

It would be wrong to say that Gary hung out with a rough crew. He was a one-man rough crew. He hung out with nobody because he liked nobody and nobody liked him. Six foot and full of himself, with cropped dark hair, he was like a cartoon version of a teenage thug. When it came to spreading fear, Gary was top of Year Ten, unrivaled by lesser, smaller thugs. Others bullied out of fun or boredom-for Gary, it was a career, it was a vocation.

"Hey, Yank chick," he called out.

Sam kept walking. Gary strode beside him across the playground, a towering, mighty figure.

"Want a date, Yank chick?" Gary taunted.

Sam stopped walking. "What exactly is your problem?" he asked, his eyes narrowing dangerously.

"I've heard all about American girls." Gary chuckled nastily.

"C'mon, Gary," said Tyrone. "She's new."

Gary ignored him. "Everyone knows about Yank girls."

"What do they know?" Sam asked.

Either the question was too difficult for Gary's apology of a brain to process or something in Sam's manner gave him pause. He changed his line of attack.

"Are you chewing gum, Yank chick?" he said in a low voice.

"Yup," said Sam.

"I don't like people chewing in my face. It's not respectful, see."


Excerpted from Boy 2 Girl by Terence Blacker Copyright © 2004 by Terence Blacker. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Terence Blacker is the author of The Angel Factory and the Ms Wiz books, which are bestsellers in Great Britain. He lives in Norfolk, England.

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Boy2Girl 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is outstanding and funny. It's different from what one would expect as ridiculous and idiotic, and this book will make you laugh out loud (and if read in public, said laughing will get you weird looks from people). My friend recommended it to me, just as I recommend it to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ringo More than 1 year ago
this is a boring and meaningless story for people with absolutely no brain activity
Guest More than 1 year ago
Boy 2 Girl by Terence Blacker. Boy 2 Girl is an outstanding book that I proudly rated 4 stars. Boy 2 Girl is an extremely funny book. Sam the 13 year old boy also known as Samantha the 13 year old girl help create a humorous book. When Sam is forced to move in with his cousin Matt the Sheds dare him to go to school the first day as a girl. The best part is he fools everyone and turns this one day thing into a few weeks long prank. Sam does everything from talking about getting the cutest guys in the school, wearing a training bra, and much, much more. All of this adds to overall humor of this chaotic book about the life of teenagers. This is a book that I know you won¿t be able to put down. I recommend this book to all young teenagers who love a good comedy. I'm not much of a reader but this book really grabbed me into reading more. The great plot and the eventful ending really add to the imaginative story line when Sam's dad comes back from America to get him and the riches that have been left to him. This book is fun and explores all the turns as a teenager. Boy 2 Girl is a real eye opener to what things go on with eighth grade students. This book is a MUST READ to all boys, girls, parents, and teachers. I guarantee you¿ll love it! Read this book to get a good laugh.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I thought it was really funny. The title cought my eye so did the cover. I would recomend this book to any one
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had really low expectations for this book, so I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn't horrible. I mean, wow. That doesn't happen much these days. And, in case you were wondering, which I was upon seeing the cover, it's not about a gay crossdresser. Straightsville, all the way. It's been a while since I read the book, but I remember the basic premise. I highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is OUTRAGOUS. it is so funny. The characters are instantly lovable and the author writes the book from several points of view, so you get to see what everyone is thinking, which is really interesting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is really good! The cover cought my eye, and when I picked it up to read i couldn't put it down. The characters are funny, and i loved how Sam tricked everyone at school!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is book is HILARIOUS!It's a little slow in the beginning and way too mature for kids under 12.Go check it out or buy it!!