Jorge is about to enter eighth grade when his parents drop a bombshell: They are getting a divorce because his dad is transgender.
Jorge is upset and confused, but his twin brother, Cesar, is furious and refuses to speak to their father. While navigating gender, family, friendship, dating—and Cesar’s bid for student body president—Jorge learns a lesson about having the confidence to be yourself. This heartfelt novel avoids some pitfalls in representation but tumbles straight into others. Sanchez provides a nuanced depiction of navigating race, as readers see how the biracial brothers’ experiences diverge. Their Mexican American father, who says he is still their papa and now goes by Norma, teaches brown-skinned Cesar how to stay safe from the police while White-passing Jorge knows that he’ll never truly understand Cesar’s experience. The cast is diverse; the boys’ best friend is Chinese and Jamaican. However, the author’s depiction of transition is a mixed bag. He takes down a few misconceptions but props up others, offering genuine insight into the family’s feelings while also dedicating far too many words to describing Norma’s big hands, masculine frame, garish makeup, and how she totters comically in her heels and dresses. These harmful stereotypes of trans women are sadly familiar and disappointing in what is otherwise a touching story about a family’s experience with gender transition.
A good book marred by clumsy trans representation. (note to readers) (Fiction. 10-13)