Author: Magnus Tor
Publication Date: 3. February 2015
Rating: 3/5. Stars
Diversity: LGBT Characters
TW: transphobia, homophobia, bullying, physical abuse, rape, f slur, q slur, d slur, suicidal ideation
Summary: John Bird has never fit in. He can’t be the all American boy his dad wants him to be, he’s bullied at school and he can’t bear to look at himself in the mirror. While most boys his age are playing sports and kissing girls, John can only find comfort in the secret he keeps hidden away in a box in his room… When feisty Aureus crashes into his life, John starts the long process of realizing that it’s what is inside us that counts and that true friends love us, no matter what our secrets are. It’s time John learns to embrace the school taunt, “Ladybird” and grow into the person he is meant to be.
Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
While John doesn’t “become” Joyce until late in the book, I will use she/her pronouns in this review, as this is what she identifies with at the end.
Joyce was born as John, but soon realized that she didn’t feel comfortable as a boy. She was always different than the other boys and heavily bullied for it. She hates having to undress and can’t even look at herself in the mirror. And while becoming friends with Aureus helps her a bit, she still has a hard time.
The story is separated into High School (the time were the bullying was worst, Joyce had no idea who she is), College (Joyce slowly starts to figure herself out), After (Joyce comes out and it’s awesome) and Ever After (so great!!!!!). I really liked this. It showed Joyce’s development well.
I disliked the intense focus that was set on how ladylike you had to be to become a real woman TM. Joyce calls that out but it still continues and it’s a bit exhausting to read.
I absolutely despised J.P. He’s a bully and an all around terrible person. He also uses a lot of slurs, it’s disgusting. I did love how Joyce’s family stood up for her though. Especially her brother he was great, even though he had some scenes that made me uncomfortable as well (he punches his sister for daring to think that her being a girl might not make him love her anymore… there are better ways to get that sentiment across, surely?) Other than that I adored Aureus after she stopped using slurs. She actually was quite a loveable character and the ending is adorable.
Trigger warning for two attempted rape scenes, one in chapter 11, and one in chapter 22. There are also a lot of slurs used. Some are just misdirected and there’s no hatred behind, but others are used in a hateful way (the f slur in chapter 4 & chapter 7, the d slur in chapter 22). Joyce also thinks about killing herself at one point in chapter 15 and self-harm is again referenced in chapter 31.
There were some grammar mistakes in the story and the story dragged quite a bit at times.
I also disliked the poem at the begin of the story. It implies that a “female transsexual” who loves another woman can’t be “homosexual” as it’s something different than a ~normal~ woman loving another woman. While I’m sure that’s not really the intention, it feels off and I immediately felt wary about the story. Thankfully this was not a problem afterward and I really liked it.
All in all this was a nice story about Joyce coming of age and her realization that she was a girl and her subsequent transition. It was great to get a happy, (mostly) feel-good story about transsexuality in which the character is allowed a HEA.