Happy Families

Happy Families

by Tanita S. Davis


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Happy Families 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Twins Ysabel and Justin have a pretty good idea about where their lives are headed. Ysabel is an artist and aiming to show her glasswork in some upcoming shows and ultimately go to art school. Justin is master of the debate team and his five-year plan includes getting in to Stanford. But nothing could prepare them for the curveball their dad throws them: he's a transgender person, enjoys dressing in women's clothing, and he's moving out. When Ysabel and Justin are forced to spend their spring break with him, they'll meet some other transgender people and start to heal their family. This is a sensitive and realistic portrayal of a family going through some tough changes. Whether or not teen readers are dealing with this same issue, teens will find much to identify with here, as Ysabel and Justin react to the changes and start to reach out for help. The dual perspective didn't quite do it for me - neither voice was strong enough for me to tell them apart. But this is a valuable addition to the YA books being published that address GLBT issues. Readalikes: From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson, Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher, and the adult nonfiction books She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan and Dress Codes by Noelle Howey.
Brunette_Librarian More than 1 year ago
Told from the viewpoints of two siblings, Ysabel and Justin, Happy Families asks what it truly means to have a happy family. Can things drastically change or is a family a cookie cutter of what we think it is? Ysabel and Justin, twins, see things through very different eyes. They both feel as if they have a good family, Ysabel is artistic and a free spirit while Justin is the golden child, worrying about grades. All that changes the night Justin sees his dad in the audience of his trivia team’s meet, looking like his dad but outfitted in a dress. The story then fast forwards a few months and the family now knows about their dad’s secret life. Their parents have split, Ysabel and Justin’s lives have been irrevocably changed, and their father is now living as a female in a different town. Neither of the twins want anything to do with their father and after months of no communication, their mother makes them go to stay for a week with their Dad. What follows is a story of how this formerly happy family deals with these huge changes, when at heart, their father is still the same.  Davis takes this story in an interesting direction and shows how difficult this sort of a situation is on all involved. Ysabel and Justin’s parents’ marriage is crumbling, yet they still love one another and don’t know how to move forward. Their father needs to be his true self and dressing as a female makes him feel complete. Neither of the twins know how to connect with this new version of their father and honestly, they really don’t know if they want to. It isn’t until they meet other children with parents that are transitioning sexes that they realize their father may not be as different as they feared. Allowing people to look inside of themselves and analyze their own hearts, Davis’ story focuses on people and asks what’s more important, their outward appearance or their inner beauty. A fascinating story told through the point of view of these two teens that gives a voice to people transitioning and their families.