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Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

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"This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. I'm Gabe. Welcome to my show." My birth name is Elizabeth, but I'm a guy. Gabe. My parents think I've gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know I'm right. I've been a boy my whole life. When you think about it, I'm like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song ever "This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. I'm Gabe. Welcome to my show." My birth name is Elizabeth, but I'm a guy. Gabe. My parents think I've gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know I'm right. I've been a boy my whole life. When you think about it, I'm like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side--not heard as often, but just as good. It's time to let my B side play.


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"This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. I'm Gabe. Welcome to my show." My birth name is Elizabeth, but I'm a guy. Gabe. My parents think I've gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know I'm right. I've been a boy my whole life. When you think about it, I'm like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song ever "This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. I'm Gabe. Welcome to my show." My birth name is Elizabeth, but I'm a guy. Gabe. My parents think I've gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know I'm right. I've been a boy my whole life. When you think about it, I'm like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side--not heard as often, but just as good. It's time to let my B side play.

30 review for Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    Wart Hill

    Hello, fellow Ugly Children. I have one request to make of you before you read this review: find Hanson's Scream and Be Free and put it on repeat. Because that is my theme song for this book. Because this book means a lot. And Hanson has been an important factor in my life since middle school. And as this book uses music as a strong, important theme, it seemed appropriate to bring that up. sing it if you know it scream it if you feel it there's nothing standing in your way follow along with me Scream Hello, fellow Ugly Children. I have one request to make of you before you read this review: find Hanson's Scream and Be Free and put it on repeat. Because that is my theme song for this book. Because this book means a lot. And Hanson has been an important factor in my life since middle school. And as this book uses music as a strong, important theme, it seemed appropriate to bring that up. sing it if you know it scream it if you feel it there's nothing standing in your way follow along with me Scream and Be Free Gabe's story is, for all intents and purposes, your typical YA coming of age novel - he's finding his way in the world, figuring out life and dating and friendships and the big What Comes Next question. The only difference between Gabe and your typical YA protagonist is that Gabe is Trans*. Obviously, Gabe's being Trans* plays an important part in the story, as it's a huge part of his life with regards to that big What Comes Next question, not to mention navigating the dating scene. But what I like about this book is it doesn't read like a Trans* Book. It reads like a YA coming of age novel that happens to be about a Trans* guy. Gabe lives his life and makes mistakes and tries new things and puts himself out there. Things go well, things don't go well. That's life, and Gabe learns to deal with the hits and the misses (Catch the Hanson references :P). Gabe is still figuring things out at the end of the book, because that's how life goes, and his story isn't over just because the book is. And it's definitely a story I'll be revisiting. If we look to another for our dreams they may never become our own.

  2. 3 out of 5

    Kelly

    4.5 This is a beautiful book. Really. Gabe was born Elizabeth, and until a couple of months ago, lived as Elizabeth, fighting back everything that he felt was true about himself. But he finally decides it's time to own being Gabe, and it's through the help of working as a DJ for the community radio station that he's finally better able to accept himself -- and work toward having other people accept him, too. It's the Midwest and while it's not small-town Midwest (it's a good size town of 40,000), t 4.5 This is a beautiful book. Really. Gabe was born Elizabeth, and until a couple of months ago, lived as Elizabeth, fighting back everything that he felt was true about himself. But he finally decides it's time to own being Gabe, and it's through the help of working as a DJ for the community radio station that he's finally better able to accept himself -- and work toward having other people accept him, too. It's the Midwest and while it's not small-town Midwest (it's a good size town of 40,000), there are certain beliefs that permeate Gabe's world and impact it pretty profoundly. His mom and dad have a hard time accepting him as Gabe (despite loving him and accepting him in their hearts, they still want to call him Liz, thus continuing to hold him back); school is a place where he's insulted and taunted for being different; people actually want to hurt him because of his difference (more because of their own fear of anything that's not black and white); and he struggles with where to go from here not only in terms of work (he's graduating and while he dreams of being a DJ, it's a dying art) but also in terms of relationships. Does he go after his heart and pursue his best friend Paige? Does he dare break the friendship in an attempt to forge a romance? What about Mara, who was the first girl to call in to his radio show and profess her feelings for his radio persona (which isn't a persona at all)? Or Heather? While the transsexual storyline is at the heart of the book, I found what stood out were the relationships here (of course they all go back to the essential questions of sexuality and of gender and whether or not those things matter period). Gabe and his relationship with John is different from many I've read in YA, and it got me a bit choked up more than once. I found his relationship with Paige dynamic and authentic; as much as she was at times scared or worried for him, she loved him fiercely in the way he deserved. There is a real vulnerability that exists between the two of them and reading these moments made my breath a little unsteady. I worried so hard for both of them because their worlds felt so fragile, even though it shouldn't have; I think because the story was through Gabe's lens I was led to worry about him and Paige a little more. (view spoiler)[ There's one scene, where Gabe finally opens up and accepts his mango that got me. It was right there, a real moment of intimacy and vulnerability between him and Paige, where I knew what they had with one another was beyond solid. It was scary as hell for them and it was scary as hell for me to read, but everything worked out precisely as it should. (hide spoiler)] I really fell in love with these characters. The thing about Gabe that got me is that he doesn't think he deserves anything. He doesn't believe he deserves to be happy, deserves to be loved, deserves to be accepted for who he is. Gabe is hard NOT to like as a reader, and those moments where (view spoiler)[ two jackasses who are scared of him want to hurt him because he's different, I welled up. He was such a good person, such an unassuming person, even, and the fear those two had for his being different and accepting himself as such made me so angry. No one deserves that kind of treatment, and that Gabe even questioned himself or his insanely brave decisions for a second because of them hurt. That Gabe didn't want to seek out police help because he assumed they wouldn't care not only hurt, but it struck a truth about the LGBTQ world, especially that world in the Midwest, and it only made me care and worry about Gabe that much more. It also further reflected Gabe's believe he didn't deserve protection or help (hide spoiler)] . I also loved John's story line and how much he looked at Gabe not as a replacement son but as a friend, as an equal. (view spoiler)[ I think that's why when he does tell Gabe about his family, it's such a huge moment both for him and for Gabe. It's friends sharing big things with one another. (hide spoiler)] John really sets Gabe up on a great path for the future in many, many ways. The acceptance and love he offers Gabe without any questions was such a contrast to what Gabe experiences at school and, at times, home. The music story line here is fresh, and I loved the A-side/B-side metaphor woven throughout. Aside from the music references that are blatant, there are a ton of smaller references I loved. There was even a shout out to B-96 which made me smile (that was the radio station of my teen life...or would have been were I one of those cool teens). This book is soundtrack-ready. This is a story about Gabe, who is transsexual, but it's not a story about Gabe, the transsexual. There's a big difference. (view spoiler)[ I thought the transsexual storyline may have even been underplayed, actually, and I wouldn't have minded a little more. For a while I wondered if this was more about a transgendered experience since it was so underplayed, but it was the very last scene that cemented the fact that this WAS about a transsexual experience. John's gift was, of course, so that Gabe could work toward a full physical change. I'm assuming anyone who reads and gets this book understands the difference between those two terms. (hide spoiler)] At the center, this is a story about being a person, and being a person who accepts that they deserve to be the person who they are. No question. Cronn-Mills writes the teen voice so well, and maybe it's because my roots are Midwestern, but she nails life in this part of the country for teens. I love how these kids work and their jobs are a big part of who they are, too. For all of this, BMfUC is a quieter book, but it is one that will resonate with readers, and I think they'll identify easily with Gabe -- the questions of who you are and who you can be are never limited to one experience. Full review: http://www.stackedbooks.org/2012/10/a...

  3. 3 out of 5

    Karen

    Ok so now I've read this book and I can honestly say I need more stars for it, 5 does not begin to cover what this book deserves. let me start by saying that Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is a young adult book and while I do on occasion read them they are not normally my thing, however, this book caught my eye and I am so glad I gave in to the impulse to get it. Kristin Cronn-Mills has dealt so beautifully with what is a very delicate and personal issue for many including myself. The referenc Ok so now I've read this book and I can honestly say I need more stars for it, 5 does not begin to cover what this book deserves. let me start by saying that Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is a young adult book and while I do on occasion read them they are not normally my thing, however, this book caught my eye and I am so glad I gave in to the impulse to get it. Kristin Cronn-Mills has dealt so beautifully with what is a very delicate and personal issue for many including myself. The references to music and the humor used throughout this story of a young persons struggle to become the person they know themselves to be in spite of what is reflected to the world through their physical appearance is told with humor, love and a wonderful insight into all the challenges that struggle entails. I don't think I can adequately explain how much this book touched my heart and soul. Gabe was such an incredibly real character for me and at times I saw bits of my own child in him. I truly wish I had the words to express how much I love this book, to make everyone who sees this review want to read it. I laughed, I cried...god I cried so much and in the end I realized that if I was only allowed to read one more book this year, I would be glad it was 'Beautiful Music for Ugly Children'.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    i was excited to pick up a teen novel starring a trans protagonist and, in particular, being a music-obsessed former radio dj, a novel whose conceit was a community radio show that allowed this young man to freely express and experience his Gabe-ness in the relative anonymity of the airwaves while he eased into fully embodying his true self in the more vulnerable worlds of family, friendship, and public life as a teen preparing to graduate from high school--where he was expected to perform and r i was excited to pick up a teen novel starring a trans protagonist and, in particular, being a music-obsessed former radio dj, a novel whose conceit was a community radio show that allowed this young man to freely express and experience his Gabe-ness in the relative anonymity of the airwaves while he eased into fully embodying his true self in the more vulnerable worlds of family, friendship, and public life as a teen preparing to graduate from high school--where he was expected to perform and respond as a "she." Unfortunately, as important as it is to tell coming-of-age trans people's stories, after reading Janet Mock's fiercely honest coming-of-age memoir a couple weeks ago, the lack of authenticity in this narrative is too glaring for me to appreciate, even in a work of fiction. although "researched" and generally sensitive in its language and understanding of trans issues, this was not written by someone who self-identifies as trans and that was pretty apparent. Overall, there was a sort of superficiality and lack of nuance in the ways Gabe was received as he opened up about his true self. to me, it was either too easy breezy to be believable--making so much light of his trans identity as to trivialize its import and the value that who he is matters (responses like "cool, you're a triangle" or "doesn't matter to me what you call yourself"--while cast as "accepting" were as dismissive as the parents who refused to call him by his chosen name) then there were reactions to Gabe as an object either of contempt and ridicule or sexual exoticism and fascination. since stats on anti-trans violence show this is a legitimate experience, i am glad it is addressed, but disappointed in the caricatures of each of the reactions that substitute for real depth of writing about his relationships and the people in his social and intimate worlds. it'd be nice if he had at least one genuine and authentic relationship...perhaps the closest to that was Paige, his long-time best friend, but when her staunch advocacy suddenly turns into disappearance and discomfort this felt like 2 extremes that were too easily resolved in a 5 minute make-up convo. basically, all the interpersonal felt oversimplified, and the pacing of the novel was erratic. but the WORST part of the book was that this kid is supposed to be an awesome dj working under the tutelage of his mentor-neighbor, a local dj great whose tastes, like his mentee, are abysmally mediocre, bland, and, sadly, whitewashed. Elvis is somehow held up as the paragon of creative genius...no mention of Chuck Berry and all of the R&B from which his sound derived. hagiography to Elvis and the Beatles makes this book seem super out of touch with musical reality/history. also, it just wasn't believable that his unthrilling dj sets would inspire a Facebook following and that whole fan club thing was super cheesy...radio is still relevant, for sure, but the way it read here felt pretty analog and antiquated. while glad if this book inspires more trans-centered coming of age narratives, instead of this book i would recommend Janet Mock's fabulous Redefining Realness while listening to this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfGXkP...

  5. 3 out of 5

    Milo

    Okay. I'm in the I'm-trans-and-wanted-this-to-be-good-but-was-mostly-disappointed camp. My main critiques (some light/vague spoilers ahead): - It read to me as if author had a hard time with dialogue/scenes where Gabe's identity is the central topic (fight w/ dad, Mara, that moment w/ Paige). They often either felt flat, as if the language/issues being presented were being copied out of some informational guide about Trans Issues, or the characters' reactions felt very sudden/out of character/unre Okay. I'm in the I'm-trans-and-wanted-this-to-be-good-but-was-mostly-disappointed camp. My main critiques (some light/vague spoilers ahead): - It read to me as if author had a hard time with dialogue/scenes where Gabe's identity is the central topic (fight w/ dad, Mara, that moment w/ Paige). They often either felt flat, as if the language/issues being presented were being copied out of some informational guide about Trans Issues, or the characters' reactions felt very sudden/out of character/unrealistic. - Since the Originality of Elvis is such a huge structural and thematic element of the book, I wish there was at least some mention of how Elvis was actually not that original and did a lot of stealing from the Black community? - I wish (and this is a wish I have for most books written by cis people about trans people) that the more subtle ways people show their discomfort/disgust/prejudice towards trans people (and how that is experienced by the trans character) were given more time and exploration alongside the Big Emotional Dramatics of being trans that often take up 80+% of these books. People aren't always having huge explosive verbal reactions to your face, sometimes they're just staring or not totally looking you in the eye or you just get this feeling that everyone thinks you're weird. The big violent stuff is often the focal point of these kinds of narratives, which after a while can make them hard to write without getting into soap-y territory. - The parents' transition from unsupportive to supportive this felt very sudden and too neat. The lead-up to the parents beginning to be supportive was paced well, but then they go from just starting to sometimes use Gabe's name to being completely used to his trans-ness and wanting him to stay at home and go to a local college without any explanation?? Parents don't always/usually come to terms with this stuff in a linear way--they'll get used to a new name but freak about hormones, they'll go back and forth being accepting and being scared for their child/wanting them to stop being trans, etc. Most likely, this will be something the family continues to learn and get used to, not something they've completely come to terms with after the 3 scenes in this book. That being said, I really enjoyed John and Gabe's relationship (I have a soft spot for posi adult mentors in YA).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    TW: Misgendering, deadnaming, transphobia from minor characters, sexual assault Now that I've got some coffee in me and had a good night's sleep to think this over, I'm ready to start my review, though... I'm honestly not sure on where to start with this review. I guess by saying, I'm surpriesd? I'm surprised that a cis author actually took the time to research before and while writing this novel. I'm surprised that the only rather negative thing I can say about this is that some of the terms used a TW: Misgendering, deadnaming, transphobia from minor characters, sexual assault Now that I've got some coffee in me and had a good night's sleep to think this over, I'm ready to start my review, though... I'm honestly not sure on where to start with this review. I guess by saying, I'm surpriesd? I'm surprised that a cis author actually took the time to research before and while writing this novel. I'm surprised that the only rather negative thing I can say about this is that some of the terms used are now outdated ('transsexual' the trans asterisk, etc), but despite the author's note at the end where she states that she wrote what was used when it was published and that terms may become outdated over time, I still can't completely rate this a perfect book. It is a start though. It's a start of a more positive view on trans men which I've not seen in a full length novel before. This books follows Gabe, a trans man in his last year of high school (well, the last two weeks of HS and then the holidays before college), who absolutely loves music. He has a radio show at midnight which he named 'Beautiful Music for Ugly Children'. He's a trans man I can really look up to, despite being fictional. He's also very positive representation for us. He wears a binder, a very safe method of binding one's chest. He's very sure of himself and doesn't allow others to make him feel bad for who he is (we could all use his courage). He's sometimes scared of coming out, which a lot of trans people can relate to. His parents are 'accepting' but in the sense of they're not ready to let go of their 'daughter' yet. But by the end there's a small change which is usually how it goes. He has a hard time with love and relationships, he has some problems with his friendship that gets resolved. He has every day problems he faces. Yes, he also faces transphobic assholes, but it does show that his friends (and fans) care for him and that you'll find people who will accept you or be cruel to you and you need to stick with those who care. There's also parts where he feels he has to cling to societal norms (being masculine) in order to be seen as male, like one scene where he says he shouldn't skip happily because it's "unmanly" (but then does it anyway in another scene because he just doesn't care, he's happy and can do what he wants). Lastly, the ending really made me smile but I won't spoil anything, I promise! Though I have heaps of questions about what Gabe will do in the future but seeing as this is a stand-alone I'll probably never know (but then again, isn't this what imagination and fan-fiction is for?) But I honestly wish and hope that a lot more people will read this. As I said before, it's not perfect representation but it is better than most and a lot closer to being perfect than I thought possible. So I recommend this to everyone, go read it, go add this to your TBR (to your, probably, towering TBR) and give it a chance.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Xan West

    DNF at 12% I found this book to be harmful to me as a trans reader, so much that I DNF'd, particularly as I understand from other reviews by trans readers that it gets worse, not better. This book presents trans life as inexorable misery with no hope or allies, full of bullying, misgendering, and gender policing, where even your best friend who supposedly supports you and has your back as a trans guy, will still coerce you to paint your toenails pink and come out as trans when you don't want to. DNF at 12% I found this book to be harmful to me as a trans reader, so much that I DNF'd, particularly as I understand from other reviews by trans readers that it gets worse, not better. This book presents trans life as inexorable misery with no hope or allies, full of bullying, misgendering, and gender policing, where even your best friend who supposedly supports you and has your back as a trans guy, will still coerce you to paint your toenails pink and come out as trans when you don't want to. We are told that the trans MC is invested in surviving, but not shown where that resilience & investment is coming from, how it's found. If you are going to have readers sit in bleakness like that, you also really need to show the roots of hope. In depth. This feels like a performance of the misery of being a trans teenager, for cis readers. Who could think this is good for trans teen readers? My experiences of misery as a queer trans person have never been one-note like this. It doesn't feel real. We have complex lives, things intertwine and co-exist. Even when there's a pile-on in my life, I'm doing things to manage it, to survive, to find hope and connection, looking for pockets of comfort. Yes, being misgendered every day sucks and is awful. And there can be hope and joy and connection and escape ad fantasy in a life that contains misgendering and trans oppression. Telling stories full of inexorable bleakness are about evoking pity and distance and dehumanization and othering. They don't actually build empathy, which is the kindest read I have of the books intended purpose (which it does not achieve). I know it was written for cis people, but it is not good for cis readers either, to read this kind of depiction of trans lives. It's also boring, and not very well written. Gabe doesn't really come through. It's like a series of accounts about his gender but I don't witness him having feelings or thoughts or reactions to these situations and difficulties. It doesn't have a strong voice or good characterization. For example, we are told Gabe has a crush. But I don't feel it with him, don't get to witness his yearning or frustration or fear or embarrassment or despair or whatever he feels. I don't have a sense of him as a person. I worry that trans readers dream too small. That we take scraps and feel grateful because at least we are tossed something. At least someone acknowledges us. I want us to dream bigger. I want trans YA with compelling voice and riveting plot and no deadnaming and trans teen characters who have friends who actually have their backs. I want trans YA where trans teens know/meet other trans people and are connected to community and have complex arcs and are deeply characterized. This book fails to do any of this, and these things are essential. Trigger Warnings I cannot give full trigger warnings, as I DNF'd. (view spoiler)[ persistent use of trans characters dead name, persistent misgendering. pressure to come out as trans, bullying, gender policing. I understand from reviews by trans reviewers that the character gets outed and is targeted by physical violence as a result, and is depicted as thanking the person who outed him. (hide spoiler)]

  8. 3 out of 5

    TheBookSmugglers

    Original review posted on The Book Smugglers This is going to be a difficult review to write and another one brought to you by my two hands. Gabe Williams has big summer plans. He has his own (quite successful) late-night radio show at an obscure radio station where he geeks out on old songs with the help of his neighbour and mentor John (presumably the first DJ to play Elvis Presley back in the days). He is in love with his best friend Paige and hopes against hope she might feel the same way – al Original review posted on The Book Smugglers This is going to be a difficult review to write and another one brought to you by my two hands. Gabe Williams has big summer plans. He has his own (quite successful) late-night radio show at an obscure radio station where he geeks out on old songs with the help of his neighbour and mentor John (presumably the first DJ to play Elvis Presley back in the days). He is in love with his best friend Paige and hopes against hope she might feel the same way – although he isn’t exactly averse to hooking up with other equally hot girls should the opportunity arises. Above all though, Gabe is looking forward to the day where he can simply be Gabe. Because you see, Gabe was born Elizabeth and has just recently told his family and close friends that he is a trans guy. The book chronicles Gabe’s summer in a story that depicts both his passion for music and his hopes for his future as well as the process of his FTM (Female To Male) transitioning. SO: on the one hand, at a surface level Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is a really, really cool story. Gabe’s passion for DJing and for old songs is palpable and his relationship with his mentor John is awesome – the latter, a supportive presence, a mentor, a friend, a grandfather figure that admires and helps Gabe. This is all the more important at this particular moment when Gabe’s parents are still shocked at Gabe’s coming out when he is taking the first baby steps at being officially, openly Gabe. And those tremendously important first steps are really well depicted: like the first time Gabe introduces himself as Gabe; the first time he goes to a male restroom; his first attempt to go out on a date with a girl. As well as his ongoing dealings with his family and the bigots at school (who always though Liz was a freak but who know are thoroughly disgusted at Gabe). And I am reading this and I am nodding along and I am thinking: yes, sirs, this appears to be exactly like what a transitioning FTM would face from A to B to C. As such, my other hand will tell you that Beautiful Music for Ugly Childrenis very informative in portraying the Trials and Tribulations of a trans teen. But that first hand will say: yes, this is a really important story. And one that even acknowledges and addresses the many problems that LGBQT teens face including violence, bullying and bigotry without being completely tragic. It is an empowering story and who doesn’t love an empowering story? Especially when the ending is so hopeful? But the other hand says: things seemed to have happened by rote, plot-wise. Almost as if there was a list of THINGS that had to happen in the transitioning process – with the uncomfortable implication that the process is the same for everybody. I never got the impression that Gabe was a real person with a really moving story beyond being a vessel for this tale to be told. I was also quite uncomfortable with the way that Gabe interacted/saw girls (those who were not his love interest Paige), as those came across as merely receptacle/objects of his desire. There was also a weird vibe about gender roles and what “girls do” or how “girls behave” that sneaked its way into the narrative. On the other hand, it makes sense that Gabe would want to be completely dissociated from anything that remotely connects him to what is usually perceived as femininity (and therefore, to Liz). That said, I am not convinced that the narrative challenged this gender-role divide completely. I do not want to undermine the importance of this book or the importance of stories like these simply being out there – especially for teens going through the same process or who are questioning – by saying that I don’t think that Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is a brilliant book. As such, there is definitely a divide between what I know to be an important story and how I wanted/needed/hoped this story to be told.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Catie

    3 1/2 stars “I also know that people think I’m an ISSUE, and that gets really old. Any time THOSE SCARY TRANNIES come up, everybody flips out.” Well, I for one was very interested in reading a book from the point of view of a transitioning person. What must it be like to feel that you were born in the wrong body? What must it be like to be forced to constantly pretend you belong in one category when nothing about it feels right? Is anyone really one hundred percent “male” or “female” anyway? My pe 3 1/2 stars “I also know that people think I’m an ISSUE, and that gets really old. Any time THOSE SCARY TRANNIES come up, everybody flips out.” Well, I for one was very interested in reading a book from the point of view of a transitioning person. What must it be like to feel that you were born in the wrong body? What must it be like to be forced to constantly pretend you belong in one category when nothing about it feels right? Is anyone really one hundred percent “male” or “female” anyway? My personal opinion is that much of the idea of gender is a made-up social construct and if we just let people act however they wanted to, we’d all be a lot happier. So as you can see, this issue does hold a lot of interest for me. However, that’s not the main reason I read this book. I picked this up, first and foremost, because I wanted to read a great story about a real person. I wanted to fall into someone else’s head for a while and experience new trials, triumphs, and feelings. That’s one of the main reasons I read any book. And unfortunately, I don’t feel like this book ever quite delivered that. Gabe and the rest of the characters never quite felt like real people to me. This story never transcended its “ISSUE” book status to become real in my mind. It’s enjoyable and compelling enough, but the writing has a lot of rough edges. And each time I stumbled over one, it only served to remind me over and over that I was reading a book – something manufactured and separate from myself – and not experiencing something real. The first thing I stumbled over was Gabe’s narration. The story is written in first person, but it doesn’t have that intimate feeling I really enjoy in a first person narration. It feels almost like an epistolary novel – like Gabe is telling his story to someone else. He relates information about his family and friends and his life as if to a complete stranger. I just kept thinking…"Who are you talking to?” Honestly I’m no expert in these things, so it’s entirely possible that this type of narration has a name. It’s entirely possible that it has a fancy name. Still, I think Gabe’s story would have felt so much more personal and immersive if the details about his life were revealed organically, in the course of the story, and not recited to us by Gabe. Gabe shouldn’t have to tell us that Paige is the only person he talks to, or that his neighbor is his mentor, or that he was born biologically female but knows he’s a guy. We should be able to figure all of that out from reading the action and dialogue alone. The storyline also sometimes jumps erratically through time in a way that’s pretty jarring to the reader. Gabe occasionally moves through the events of a few days or even a week in the span of a page. The characters too sometimes make dramatic leaps that feel completely out of character. There’s also one single flashback in the book that comes out of nowhere. There are no clues to the reader that it’s even happening – no change in tense, no change in font. I hope that’s something that will be fixed for the final copy. Give a sister italics at least, please! However, despite all of those rough edges, I did mostly like this book. The biggest thing that held my interest was the relationship between Gabe and Paige – a very vivid bright spot in this novel. I felt that Cronn-Mills did an excellent job of portraying all the complexities of their relationship – how confusing it was for both of them to have everything change after Gabe came out. Paige is a truly supportive friend who doesn’t quite know what to do with the new Gabe. And Gabe has feelings for Paige, but isn’t quite ready to share them. He’s also just adorably patient with her – even when she’s pushing him away or having the occasional freak-out, he stands by with the patience of someone who knows that she’ll come around. Even with this new development, they have such patience and trust for each other. Romantic or not, their relationship feels like one that will last a lifetime. Also, this may be an “ISSUE” book in the end, but at least Cronn-Mills never shies away from the more “uncomfortable” aspects of this issue. Gabe is threatened and bullied. He worries about how his transition might change his personality. He disappoints potential love interests – badly. His parents are both dealing with confusion and guilt (although I thought the ultimate resolution there was a bit unrealistic). And I’m pretty sure the Mango never appeared in an after school special. For an issue book, this is a pretty good one and I’m glad it’s out there. Perfect Musical Pairing The Lonely Forest - Two Notes and a Beat Here's my music-themed love song for Gabe and Paige: "All I really need are two notes and a beat to sing you my heart it’s a great place to start" Also seen at The Readventurer.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dylan

    I got this book from the library a few hours ago and I literally couldn't put it down until I finished it. The story was engrossing to the extreme, and given that it's a short book, it didn't take long to read. I'm a transguy just like Gabe, but this is the first novel of this type I've picked up and read. It was amazing reading Gabe's thoughts and feelings and how well they reflected my own. Reading this book made me feel understood and like I wasn't alone. For me this book is a remarkable achi I got this book from the library a few hours ago and I literally couldn't put it down until I finished it. The story was engrossing to the extreme, and given that it's a short book, it didn't take long to read. I'm a transguy just like Gabe, but this is the first novel of this type I've picked up and read. It was amazing reading Gabe's thoughts and feelings and how well they reflected my own. Reading this book made me feel understood and like I wasn't alone. For me this book is a remarkable achievement by the author, a cisgender female. Given that she has no personal experience with being transgender, I was weary to read the novel--but she did everything justice. I commend the author for such a wonderful book that tells an important story...and I assert that more books like these need to exist. I'm thankful I got the chance to read this and I would recommend it to any transperson, or any person interested in what it's like to be transgender.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    Price drop to $0.99 at Amazon US, 12/30/17

  12. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    For the most part this was okay. I've been meaning to read this for a while now & glad that I finally made time for it. It's refreshing to see a cis author take the time to research binders, packing, all that good stuff. Kudos to her on that. Naturally, this isn't perfect rep but it's a lot better than most of the other YA I've read. I appreciate the info guide at the back- how she understands that a lot of the terminology may be outdated in five years. (Spoiler: it is.) Yet, this is an auth For the most part this was okay. I've been meaning to read this for a while now & glad that I finally made time for it. It's refreshing to see a cis author take the time to research binders, packing, all that good stuff. Kudos to her on that. Naturally, this isn't perfect rep but it's a lot better than most of the other YA I've read. I appreciate the info guide at the back- how she understands that a lot of the terminology may be outdated in five years. (Spoiler: it is.) Yet, this is an author who is respectful, on the right path & one I would probably read again. That being said, there were a few things that niggled at me. I didn't like how said "best friend" knew about Gabe yet still coerced him into painting his nails pink. There is deadnaming & misgendering, which I get to an extent considering the newly timed coming out, but there were a few times it seemed unnecessary. Then of course we have the violent outbreak scene, blown up by secondary character transphobia- yes, this may be the reality for some, but it's cliche & harmful to put that in there especially when you had several positives going for it prior. It seemed like an attention move, & it was a pretty poor choice in my eyes. Because of that the last few chapters really annoyed me & I was disappointed with the ending. So close...yet so far. Regardless, I liked the relationship between Gabe & John. Paige was alright, but again, I found some of her actions shitty. I loved how much this was actually about music: showing the time spent on the shows, John's epic collection, etc. There were a couple times I actually laughed, which is rare enough that I'd bump up my rating .5*. Overall it didn't feel so much like a "trans coming of age" rather than a typical YA with a MC who just happens to be trans. Yes, it could have been a lot better, but it could also have been a lot worse & I did like the plot for 90% of the book so I'm sticking with my average 3* rating. With that in mind, I hope that more stories without the unnecessary drama & plot twists (i.e actually living unapologetically as you are) will happen so we don't feel obligated to enjoy these books just because we're grateful to catch a glimpse of ourselves in it. Books like this are paving the way & for that I am grateful & would recommend if looking for a positive YA trans book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Madison ♡

    Let's start off by saying that, the only reason I read this book, is because my sister got it from B&N, and my mom made me read it to make sure it was 'appropriate'. I mean, it sounded interesting, but I never would have picked it up for myself. I am glad to say that I actually really liked this book. More than I thought I would, anyway. It is the first book I've read with a transgender character, so this genre is new to me. Luckily, Cronn-Mills knew what she was doing and I found the book e Let's start off by saying that, the only reason I read this book, is because my sister got it from B&N, and my mom made me read it to make sure it was 'appropriate'. I mean, it sounded interesting, but I never would have picked it up for myself. I am glad to say that I actually really liked this book. More than I thought I would, anyway. It is the first book I've read with a transgender character, so this genre is new to me. Luckily, Cronn-Mills knew what she was doing and I found the book enjoyable. All the characters were awesome (except Paige sort of annoyed me sometimes). I also really love the concept behind everything: Gabe having a radio station to talk to people with. It's new and very effective. I LOVE how the titles are all like "__ is the new Elvis ___". I like the parallel structure of them. It's the first book I've read that did this with its titles. So, it comes down to this: Do I think it is 'appropriate'? Well, my sister is 12, so I definitely think she can read it. It IS about a pretty hard topic that not many people understand, but I'm sure a 12 year old can get it. (It doesn't go into too much detail about it.)There are the occasional curse words, but not that many. Some violence, but not too bad. I think, maybe 12 and up, 11 if you're desperate. It honestly isn't that inappropriate of a book. I really liked it. It's funny, witty, interesting, thought-provoking, and awesome. Gabe is a great protagonist. I honestly kept forgetting that Gabe was born a girl; the way Cronn-Mills wrote his voice was giving me the impression that he was always a dude. Not that that bothers me or anything. So, all-in-all, I liked this book a lot. It's short and well worth reading. It is always fun being introduced to a new genre of books, and this was a great book to start off a new genre. Awesome book, Kirstin! And this has been Madison on a review for Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. Over, and out!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kerri (Book Hoarder)

    I wish there were more books like this, or at least more books that I was aware of. Beautiful Music For Ugly Children is the story of Gabe. Gabe was born as Elizabeth but he's been sure for a long time that he's not a girl, he's a boy. The book tells the story of his first steps into transitioning publicly, and the difficulties he faces. Being bisexual, I could identify with some of what Gabe went through, though only a fraction of it. People find it hard enough to deal with the fact that some p I wish there were more books like this, or at least more books that I was aware of. Beautiful Music For Ugly Children is the story of Gabe. Gabe was born as Elizabeth but he's been sure for a long time that he's not a girl, he's a boy. The book tells the story of his first steps into transitioning publicly, and the difficulties he faces. Being bisexual, I could identify with some of what Gabe went through, though only a fraction of it. People find it hard enough to deal with the fact that some people like to sleep with the same gender, let alone the idea that someone might not identify with the parts that they're born with... I would have liked to see a bit more depth in the book - somehow I was left feeling as though I didn't know Gabe quite as well as I would have liked to, or his family. I loved John and Paige, though, and how supportive they were. A lot of the issues faced in the book are very realistic, too, and incredibly important when I consider the number of hate crimes that people like Gabe are subjected to every year. Gabe's struggles with his family and public perception made me angry at times, and made me smile at times - it's a good look at the life of a teenager in general, with all its ups and downs.. It's just that Gabe has a lot more weighing on him than most. I can't say much more, because I don't think I'm the one to judge whether or not this book accurately depicts trans* issues and what it's like to transition. I enjoyed the reading the book, and think that we need more like this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Aleksandra

    I liked this book a lot. BMfUC started with bunch of clichés about high schooler life and I wasn't convinced, but it all found the right place and story turned out vivid, emotional and realistic. First and foremost, the book is about Gabe and his love to music. Gabe is transgender and we follow the story of how he's opening his Side B to the world. The side that matters most. Also his relations with family, friends, girls come into focus, as well as bullying and hate crimes, unfortunately common I liked this book a lot. BMfUC started with bunch of clichés about high schooler life and I wasn't convinced, but it all found the right place and story turned out vivid, emotional and realistic. First and foremost, the book is about Gabe and his love to music. Gabe is transgender and we follow the story of how he's opening his Side B to the world. The side that matters most. Also his relations with family, friends, girls come into focus, as well as bullying and hate crimes, unfortunately common experience in a life of transgender individual. But what I love about the book that it focuses on Gabe and his life, with its ups and downs, he is multi-dimensional character and the narrative isn't fixed on him being transgender as if it's the only thing that defines him. No matter how important it is in his life. I like secondary characters too. John is simply the best, no contest. Paige is well-written, just as Gabe's parents and brother. I honestly think this book gives a good representation( but it's not really my place to say since I'm cis gender and I definitely don't know best, but based on what I read about gender and transgender, the book is good) and has amazing writing, plot and bunch of lovable characters. P. S. music! I didn't hear any of the song before, but they are good. Really good;)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nadine

    Liz steht kurz vor ihrem Schulabschluss, aber eine weitaus größere Veränderung beschäftigt sie viel mehr. Sie ist ein Mann in einem Frauenkörper und möchte nun endlich ihr eigentliches Ich ausleben. Als Gabe arbeitet sie/ er in einem Radiosender und kann seiner großen Leidenschaft, der Musik nachgehen. Er schart eine kleine Fangemeinde um sich, die kleine Aufgaben ausführen, wie Flashmobs veranstalten oder Autos von Fremden zu dekorieren (ohne Schaden anzurichten). Privat läuft es weniger gut: E Liz steht kurz vor ihrem Schulabschluss, aber eine weitaus größere Veränderung beschäftigt sie viel mehr. Sie ist ein Mann in einem Frauenkörper und möchte nun endlich ihr eigentliches Ich ausleben. Als Gabe arbeitet sie/ er in einem Radiosender und kann seiner großen Leidenschaft, der Musik nachgehen. Er schart eine kleine Fangemeinde um sich, die kleine Aufgaben ausführen, wie Flashmobs veranstalten oder Autos von Fremden zu dekorieren (ohne Schaden anzurichten). Privat läuft es weniger gut: Er ist in seine beste Freundin verliebt, die aber bereits einen Freund hat und von der er nicht weiß, ob sie mehr als Freundschaft will. Zudem haben wseine Eltern Probleme, mit der Situation umzugehen. Das Buch hat mich total geflasht. Ich liebe den leichten Humor, die Musikrefenzen, die Selbstironie, die einfühlsamen Beschreibungen, kämen darin nicht die üblichen Typen vor, die auf alles, was sie nicht verstehen, mit Hass und Gewalt reagieren, wäre es ein totales Wohlfühlbuch. Ich habe mit Gabe mitgefiebert, wie selten in einem Buch. Die kleineren Schwächen konnte ich wunderbar ignorieren. Absolute Leseempfehlung!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Raven DeLajour

    Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is an amazing, beautiful novel. The more I think about it, the more I love it. The book is about Gabe and not just about his coming out as transgender. It's about his passionate love for music, his relationships, and his anxieties and fears. There are scenes in the book that make you laugh out loud and others that make your eyes all teary. I love Gabe as a character and really like the different artists and songs that are brought up in the story. I'm a huge musi Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is an amazing, beautiful novel. The more I think about it, the more I love it. The book is about Gabe and not just about his coming out as transgender. It's about his passionate love for music, his relationships, and his anxieties and fears. There are scenes in the book that make you laugh out loud and others that make your eyes all teary. I love Gabe as a character and really like the different artists and songs that are brought up in the story. I'm a huge music fan myself so it was really nice to read about the different tunes. I honestly couldn't put the book down. I got it yesterday from the library and it was impossible for me to take breaks from the story. I wish there were more books like this one, especially in the YA genre. Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is definitely going in my favorites list and I will definitely read Kirstin Cronn-Mills' other books. I wish I could write more, but like I've said before, it's so hard for me to write reviews of books that I love so much. This is one of those times.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anja

    I absolutely love this book ❤ I love the plot, the characters, the writing. I love that it feels so real, so authentic. I love that there's almost no kitsch but pure unadulterated emotions. I love the ~soundtrack. What I don't love is the transphobia and the ensuing violence, unfortunately this is how some people tick, and there is no sugarcoating this fact. I love the author's note at the end. Usually I never read author's notes but this time I did and, yeah, amazing informative stuff :) This book I absolutely love this book ❤️ I love the plot, the characters, the writing. I love that it feels so real, so authentic. I love that there's almost no kitsch but pure unadulterated emotions. I love the ~soundtrack. What I don't love is the transphobia and the ensuing violence, unfortunately this is how some people tick, and there is no sugarcoating this fact. I love the author's note at the end. Usually I never read author's notes but this time I did and, yeah, amazing informative stuff :) This book isn't perfect, though. It has its flaws. But you know what? I don't give a flying fart about them. Book's amazing. Period.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Miranda

    I liked it enough to ignore the music snobbery (nothing gets up my nose faster, y'all) but would it really have been that terrible if Gabe had ended up with a girlfriend? I don't know if the ending was supposed to hint that he and Paige did get together, but if so, it wasn't clear enough for me.

  20. 3 out of 5

    Alan-Without-Poe

    If love is the answer, what’s the question? Maybe it just matters that you know the answer. And believe it. Believe in it. This phrase converted the 3 stars rating to the 4 one. Because the main idea of the book is fantastic, but good books are made of words more than of ideas. And the writing style was so plain. -------------------------- Buddy read with this awesome guy.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Gabe has always identified as a boy, but he was born with a girl's body. With his new public access radio show growing in popularity, Gabe struggles with romance, friendship, and his parents, all while trying to come out as transgendered. An audition for a radio station in Minneapolis looks like a ticket to a better life in the big city, but his entire future is threatened when some people find out that Gabe the DJ is also Elizabeth from school. At times humourous, honest, and complicated in the Gabe has always identified as a boy, but he was born with a girl's body. With his new public access radio show growing in popularity, Gabe struggles with romance, friendship, and his parents, all while trying to come out as transgendered. An audition for a radio station in Minneapolis looks like a ticket to a better life in the big city, but his entire future is threatened when some people find out that Gabe the DJ is also Elizabeth from school. At times humourous, honest, and complicated in the way only life as a teenager can be, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is a glimpse into Gabe's life as he's transitioning from Elizabeth to Gabe near the end of high school, a look into his life, his hopes and dreams, his pain and struggles. What I loved about this book is its raw honesty. Who we are when the world sees us, who we are on the inside, who we want to be, who we see when we look in the mirror, they're all different. When you're a teenager, you're figuring out who you are, questioning your life up until that moment, questioning what you're working towards, questioning how your body doesn't look the way you want it to, and some even question their gender. Gabe is wonderful. I like calling him Gabe because he's Gabe. When we meet him at the beginning of the book, there are little pieces of Elizabeth, but there's mostly Gabe. Of course, there will always be the little pieces of Elizabeth in Gabe. He deals with so much in the book, the trials and tribulations of high school, keeping Gabe a secret apart from his best friend Paige (who he has a crush on) and his family (who can't accept Gabe because all they see is Elizabeth). The only time Gabe can be himself is that one hour a week in the middle of the night at a community radio station talking about something universal: music. I loved how he was one of those music geeks who appreciates music and its message while being unable to play an instrument. But then there are the times when Gabe would hide, like he wanted to be open with the world but not in front of people who knew him as Elizabeth because he feared the backlash. The way people can turn on each other because of differences and opinions is terrible. No one in the entire world is exactly alike, so why does it bring out the worst in people when our differences are exposed? People, like records, have their A sides and their B sides. The side the world sees, and the side you are on the inside. Lots of people have their different sides. What's important to remember is this book is about Gabe and his different sides, Gabe the human being who deserves to be the person he wants to be and not the person his family or his friends or the whole world want him to be. It's all about Gabe, and he just happens to be transitioning from being a girl to being a guy. I read YA because of books like this. New worlds, new viewpoints, new characters. It's not always a completely accurate representation of real life, but it's as close as the author can make it. I can only imagine the confusion and the struggles of teens like Gabe not just in the US but all over the world, but there are also good moments. There are the friends and the family members that keep supporting them, laughing with them, loving them. Everyone has their A side and their B side, and whichever you choose to live, live it the best way that you can.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Transsexualität ist ein Thema, über das ich vor der Lektüre von Beautiful Music for Ugly Children nur wenig wusste, abgesehen von Dingen, die man so nebenbei mitbekommen kann: Hormone, Operationen, Brust-Binder, etc. Und natürlich die tiefe Schlucht der Reaktionen: Hass, Ablehnung und Gewalt vs. Soll doch jeder das machen, was glücklich macht, Mensch bleibt Mensch. In diesem Buch, das aus der Sicht von Gabe, in dessen Pass noch der Name Elizabeth steht, geschrieben ist, bekommt man eine ordentli Transsexualität ist ein Thema, über das ich vor der Lektüre von Beautiful Music for Ugly Children nur wenig wusste, abgesehen von Dingen, die man so nebenbei mitbekommen kann: Hormone, Operationen, Brust-Binder, etc. Und natürlich die tiefe Schlucht der Reaktionen: Hass, Ablehnung und Gewalt vs. Soll doch jeder das machen, was glücklich macht, Mensch bleibt Mensch. In diesem Buch, das aus der Sicht von Gabe, in dessen Pass noch der Name Elizabeth steht, geschrieben ist, bekommt man eine ordentliche Portion beider Seiten und noch so viel mehr. Einen Einblick in Gabes Gedanken und Gefühle, seine Ängst, seine Zukunftspläne. Und ganz viel Liebe zur Musik. Gabe steht kurz vor seinem Highschoolabschluss und fiebert schon seit langem auf die Zeit danach hin. Dann soll es nur noch Gabe geben, ein kompletter Neuanfang irgendwo, wo niemand Elizabeth kannte. Vor ein paar Wochen hat er seinen Eltern und seinem Bruder verkündet, dass er ab jetzt nur noch Gabe ist. Nach etlichen Wochen nennen sie ihn immer noch Liz und in die Augen schauen ist sowieso nicht mehr drin. Seine beste Freundin Paige jedoch kommt zum Glück ziemlich gut mit dieser Veränderung klar. Gabes Nachbar John, ein ehemaliger DJ, der wie ein Opa für ihn ist, hat ihm einen Sendeplatz bei einem Radiosender organisiert, damit Gabe seiner größten Leidenschaft nachgehen kann: Gute Musik hören (und sie nebenbei unter die Leute bringen). Die Sendung nennt sich Beautiful Music for Ugly Children und findet schnell Anklang und sogar richtige Groupies, die auf jede Nachricht von Gabe warten und seine kleinen wöchentlichen Aufgaben erledigen (und zum Beispiel eine Party für Gartenzwerge veranstalten). Weiter lesen auf dem Blog: https://piranhapudel.de/beautiful-mus...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Though our society has come a long way, there still aren't that many YA books out there that tackle transgender issues or have transgender narrators. Beautiful Music for Ugly Children tells the story of Gabe (born Elizabeth) who is struggling to bring his "B side" out for good. His family still refers to him as "Liz", and although his two best friends have accepted his announcement, he still has to deal with his town--some of whom aren't as happy about his new persona. I love the supporting chara Though our society has come a long way, there still aren't that many YA books out there that tackle transgender issues or have transgender narrators. Beautiful Music for Ugly Children tells the story of Gabe (born Elizabeth) who is struggling to bring his "B side" out for good. His family still refers to him as "Liz", and although his two best friends have accepted his announcement, he still has to deal with his town--some of whom aren't as happy about his new persona. I love the supporting characters in this one (particularly Gabe's neighbor John), and I felt like the friendship/relationship between Paige and Gabe was touching and realistic. Wading through all of the musical references got a little tedious at times, but the story is a good one. There's not too much swearing and only some minor sexual references (other than the direct references to male and female anatomy that goes along with gender questioning), so I would feel pretty confident putting this on my middle school shelves for my more mature readers.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Becki

    Beautiful Music for Ugly Children drew me in with a fantastic title and gorgeous cover, plus I’m a big sucker for LBGT+ books. I wanted to like this book. I really wanted to like it, but in the end the writing was just too poor to pass go. The writing was childish, the emotions were thin and flimsy at best, and all of the characters were incredibly stereotypical. This book was the first of its kind and received a lot of praise for bravery and honesty and I can appreciate that, but I think that t Beautiful Music for Ugly Children drew me in with a fantastic title and gorgeous cover, plus I’m a big sucker for LBGT+ books. I wanted to like this book. I really wanted to like it, but in the end the writing was just too poor to pass go. The writing was childish, the emotions were thin and flimsy at best, and all of the characters were incredibly stereotypical. This book was the first of its kind and received a lot of praise for bravery and honesty and I can appreciate that, but I think that this is one of those subjects that is going to have to be written about with more depth than this. While I felt for Gabe and the problems he faced, they all seemed very predictable. I didn’t like the way the book ended and or how the book breezed by some transgender issues that need to be discussed more than dating and appearance. I had high hopes for this and in the end I was let down by the childlike and surface level writing. Pros: Transgender lead Cons: Predictable, poorly written, surface level, difficult to connect to main character Triggers: Bullying, abuse Rating: ⅖

  25. 5 out of 5

    Victoria A

    I like the concept. I like that it talked about music. And I love that it tackled one of the most sensitive issues that we have in our society at the moment - gender. Or more specifically, someone's gender, gender-preference and gender-orientation. I'm sure no homophobe or close-minded individual would be interested in reading this book, but it's nice to know that a book like this exists. It helps people better understand the story of someone who feels like they were trapped in the wrong body. Bu I like the concept. I like that it talked about music. And I love that it tackled one of the most sensitive issues that we have in our society at the moment - gender. Or more specifically, someone's gender, gender-preference and gender-orientation. I'm sure no homophobe or close-minded individual would be interested in reading this book, but it's nice to know that a book like this exists. It helps people better understand the story of someone who feels like they were trapped in the wrong body. But as a story itself, it was just okay. Nothing particularly exciting. Plus, the ending was a complete meh. I was expecting more. But the author ended up with a lecture about the LGBT community, which is okay as a whole but bad for the book itself. But, the book is pretty much forgettable.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Inge

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Gabe is a lot braver than a lot of the transgender teens I've seen in YA novels, but most of this novel came across as pretty inauthentic. Gabe's music choices are the *worst*, as most of his radio shows sound like what you get to hear on classic rock stations. The fact that the next store neighbor John was the first person to play Elvis on the air AND has an autographed napkin AND has what we're supposed to believe is Elvis's first guitar is just unbelievable. The title names are just obnoxious Gabe is a lot braver than a lot of the transgender teens I've seen in YA novels, but most of this novel came across as pretty inauthentic. Gabe's music choices are the *worst*, as most of his radio shows sound like what you get to hear on classic rock stations. The fact that the next store neighbor John was the first person to play Elvis on the air AND has an autographed napkin AND has what we're supposed to believe is Elvis's first guitar is just unbelievable. The title names are just obnoxious and precious. Gabe gets play from Heather Graves AND kind of from Paige? It seems unlikely. Still, some good information here and there. I can't wait to see more YA Lit from transgender protagonists.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    This is a fantastic read. Gabe is a transgender high schooler who is struggling with making decisions about the next phase in his life. He has a mentor who is encouraging his love of music and being a radio personality, and he has friends who understand his struggle, living in a world who still sees him as Liz, yet life is still mostly confusing and scary. Although I appreciated a lot of the amazing musical allusions in this fantastic story, I think many will be over my students' heads as they This is a fantastic read. Gabe is a transgender high schooler who is struggling with making decisions about the next phase in his life. He has a mentor who is encouraging his love of music and being a radio personality, and he has friends who understand his struggle, living in a world who still sees him as Liz, yet life is still mostly confusing and scary. Although I appreciated a lot of the amazing musical allusions in this fantastic story, I think many will be over my students' heads as they seem to listen to the same six songs on the radio and have little love of history. This book had it all...struggle, sentiment, honest life lessons... Great pick.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rainey

    This is one of those books where my emotions are going to overwhelm my ability to write a coherent review. Beautiful Music hit me in many ways, but it's importance lies in representation. I read books daily- all types, any genre- and this is the first book I've ever read where the narrator is a trans youth. It is such a different experience than reading a trans character from the third person. Gabe is an amazing character. And while I know each experience is unique and Gabe may not be accurate r This is one of those books where my emotions are going to overwhelm my ability to write a coherent review. Beautiful Music hit me in many ways, but it's importance lies in representation. I read books daily- all types, any genre- and this is the first book I've ever read where the narrator is a trans youth. It is such a different experience than reading a trans character from the third person. Gabe is an amazing character. And while I know each experience is unique and Gabe may not be accurate representation for everyone, his presence as a main character is important regardless. I missed a book club because I was so absorbed in the characters. Recommended for all, but be prepared to cry!

  29. 3 out of 5

    Elise Edie

    Kristin Cronn-Mills keeps the focus on empowerment and friendship in this easy-going novel about a likable teenage disc jockey who happens to be transitioning from female to male. I was particularly appreciative of the treatment of Gabe's confused but loving parents, who are doing a not-so-great job adjusting to their child's transition. Gabe has to contend with rejection and violence around his transition, but he also gets a generous dose of acceptance and understanding. If only every trans tee Kristin Cronn-Mills keeps the focus on empowerment and friendship in this easy-going novel about a likable teenage disc jockey who happens to be transitioning from female to male. I was particularly appreciative of the treatment of Gabe's confused but loving parents, who are doing a not-so-great job adjusting to their child's transition. Gabe has to contend with rejection and violence around his transition, but he also gets a generous dose of acceptance and understanding. If only every trans teen could find such support and help.

  30. 3 out of 5

    Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel

    My 12 year old daughter came out as gay last year, and she asked for a gorgeous array of YA LGBTQ books for Christmas, which I’m reading along with her. The author’s note does state she wouldn’t write the book again based on the more current “nothing about us without us” theory of marginalized voices in entertainment. I did enjoy this book; some aspects seemed very true to life and some seemed a little unrealistic. I loved the musical emphasis. Harry Potter reference: YES

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