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Debut author Tobly McSmith delivers a coming-of-age teen love story about a transgender boy who’s going stealth at his new Texas high school and a cisgender girl who is drawn to him, even as she’s counting down the days until graduation. Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Becky Albertalli, and Jenny Han. Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from Debut author Tobly McSmith delivers a coming-of-age teen love story about a transgender boy who’s going stealth at his new Texas high school and a cisgender girl who is drawn to him, even as she’s counting down the days until graduation. Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Becky Albertalli, and Jenny Han. Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom. Georgia is beginning to think there’s more to life than cheerleading. She plans on keeping a low profile until graduation…which is why she promised herself that dating was officially a no-go this year. Then, on the very first day of school, the new guy and the cheerleader lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? How is Georgia supposed to keep her promise when sparks start flying with a boy like Pony? Funny and poignant, clear-eyed and hopeful, Stay Gold is a story about finding love—and finding yourself.


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Debut author Tobly McSmith delivers a coming-of-age teen love story about a transgender boy who’s going stealth at his new Texas high school and a cisgender girl who is drawn to him, even as she’s counting down the days until graduation. Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Becky Albertalli, and Jenny Han. Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from Debut author Tobly McSmith delivers a coming-of-age teen love story about a transgender boy who’s going stealth at his new Texas high school and a cisgender girl who is drawn to him, even as she’s counting down the days until graduation. Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Becky Albertalli, and Jenny Han. Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom. Georgia is beginning to think there’s more to life than cheerleading. She plans on keeping a low profile until graduation…which is why she promised herself that dating was officially a no-go this year. Then, on the very first day of school, the new guy and the cheerleader lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? How is Georgia supposed to keep her promise when sparks start flying with a boy like Pony? Funny and poignant, clear-eyed and hopeful, Stay Gold is a story about finding love—and finding yourself.

30 review for Stay Gold

  1. 4 out of 5

    ✨ jamieson ✨

    ❝ Stay gold, Pony. The world needs you. Stay gold when it’s hard. When it’s lonely. When it’s scary. Especially when it’s scary ❞ When I heard about this book from the publisher, I was pretty excited. It was pitched as a contemporary romance, comparable to ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’, which is a series I adore. I was expecting a sweet, fluffy romance between the new boy, Pony, who is trans and a popular cheerleader at his school called Georgia. This is what this book is … and it also ❝ Stay gold, Pony. The world needs you. Stay gold when it’s hard. When it’s lonely. When it’s scary. Especially when it’s scary ❞ When I heard about this book from the publisher, I was pretty excited. It was pitched as a contemporary romance, comparable to ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’, which is a series I adore. I was expecting a sweet, fluffy romance between the new boy, Pony, who is trans and a popular cheerleader at his school called Georgia. This is what this book is … and it also … isn’t. The first thing I want to say about this book is anyone going into it purely expecting a fluffy contemporary romance may potentially be disappointed and maybe even feel a little blindsided like I was. While Stay Gold does have a contemporary romance with a happily ever after, a lot of this story follows Pony tackling, oftentimes intense, transphobia and discrimination. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, it is important and valid for these issues to be explored in fiction. It just wasn’t what I expected and I want other people to go into this with the right expectations. Stay Gold follows Pony, a seventeen-year-old trans boy who is attending a new school in Texas and has decided to go stealth, meaning he will keep his identity a secret. This is a decision he faces come criticism for, mainly from his out and proud best friend Max who believes more people should be out and visible, and from his sister Rocky who supports him and wants him to be open and honest. When Pony arrives at school, he meets and starts to fall for a popular cheerleader called Georgia. During the process of their romance, Pony comes to the realisation he needs to be honest with Georgia about his identity, and his ultimate decision to come out to her sets of a string of events at his school and a discussion around queer identities. ❝ We only get one chance at life. I couldn’t spend another day stuck because I was worried about what people thought of me ❞ First, I want to point out some basic things I did and didn’t like before I get into a more complex discussion of this book and why my feelings on it are mixed. One thing I did like was Pony and Georgia’s respective characters and personalities. I particularly liked Georgia. She was a really fun character to follow, with lots of flaws and quirks that made her interesting. Pony was a really sympathetic character, and by the end of the book, I was really invested in him. Their romance was also cute, I liked the parts of them just hanging out as friends, I thought it developed their relationship well and their jokes and banter together were cute. I also liked how both Georgia and Pony had friends outside of each other. Georgia’s cheerleader friends were an interesting group and I liked the subplot about their team and relationships. The relationship between Pony and his sister Rocky was also something I loved. I adore sibling relationships in books and I thought this one was well done, and their genuine love for each other, mixed with the way they would tease each other felt so authentic. I also liked the happily ever after the characters got, especially acceptance from friends and family, which I felt was most deserved given how dark this book gets in places. It has some cliche rom-com moments, and I kinda loved them. I also found myself quite sucked into this story, like any good contemporary romance, I felt like I was flying along absorbed into the story and drama. I also loved the hopeful and uplighting ending. It really made me feel warm and happy and I think it was a perfect ending for this story. On the other hand, I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style, it’s first-person addressing the reader which is my least favourite point of view. I also thought some sections of dialogue were a little stilted, and maybe didn’t read like teens talk. But this is a debut, and those are things I can forgive, and it didn’t majorly interrupt my reading experience. ❝ They raised daughters named Sarah and Rachel and now they have a transgender son named Pony and a unicorn named Rocky. They must wonder where it all went wrong ❞ Those likes and dislikes aside, I want to talk about how this book wasn’t exactly what I expected. The characters, and by extension, the romance felt like they functioned as a tool to educate non-cis people about the realities of being a trans teen, and even more broadly non-queer people about the queer community. At times, this book felt stilted because portions would be ‘info dumps’ about living as a trans person, which felt more like they came from the author than naturally from the character. Further, depictions of violent sexual and physical assault, as well as inclusions of suicidal thoughts by the main character were included as a vehicle to educate. For example, the main character contemplates suicide, which acts as a gateway for the book informing and giving statistics about high suicide rates in trans teens. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing to portray in a book, it is just that I think people looking to be educated may resonate with this more than those looking to be represented. I think I was also looking for more of an arc for Georgia, and maybe for her to have to work a little bit more for her ‘redemption’. I felt the narrative didn’t really address her treatment of Pony and the inconsistencies between her actions and dialogue felt underexplored. Finally, I’ve seen almost every pre-review address this, so I thought I would quickly discuss it too. A large focus of this book is around being ‘out and proud’. Pony is criticised by his friends and family for going stealth. His best friend Max is particularly critical, even threatening to end their friendship when Pony refuses to share a petition about a trans friend that could potentially out him. I was looking for more nuance in this discussion. I think the general message of the power that can come from being out and proud, and the representation it gives others was powerful. I also thought the narrative could have delved more into the complexities of it. Max going to a liberal art school, having accepting family and all queer friends and thus a vastly different experience to Pony is only briefly mentioned and not really explored. Further, there is a part where Max calls Pony ‘brave’ for coming out and thus getting assaulted, which felt a little off to me. Overall, I think a lot of my issues with this book boil down to the fact this book didn’t explore queer issues with the nuance I wanted, nor did it give me the story I was expecting. Which is not necessarily a criticism. I think this book is meant to be an introduction to trans issues and the queer community, and that is important. I think this is probably going to be an important and useful book to a lot of people. It’s just not really the story I was looking for. I am sure some people will feel represented by it because realistically, Pony’s experiences are unfortunately ones which trans teens may face. At the same time, there are some discussions and ideas I think may not resonate with every reader, which is fine too. But I think it is a book which ultimately tries to give hope and be uplifting while trying to tackle serious issues head-on. I would recommend this to people who are interested in the premise, as long as you’re knowing it’s not a wholly fluffy contemporary romance. I think the focus on trans issues was important, and the happily ever after ending for the character was sweet. This is a book I have quite a few thoughts about. While on the surface it is a fluffy rom-com, and it does deliver that to some degree, I was blindsided a little by how much the main character goes through in this book. It’s a book I’ll definitely be following through release date, to see more reviews about, especially from ownvoices reviewers. I think it’s going to be a book that some people resonate with, and others do not. And that it is fine. A book doesn’t have to encapsulate every experience or be written in a way to appease every viewpoint to be worthwhile. I feel I was not the target audience of this book, but I also feel there is potentially a market and audience for this book out there that may really benefit from reading it. this is an ARC and included quotes are subject to change upon publication. stay gold releases on may 26th! thank you to HarperCollins for sending me an advanced copy of this title content warnings: misgendering and deadnaming of trans character, sexual and physical assault of main character on page, use of trans and lesbian slurs, public outing, suicidal thoughts and ideation, harassment, homophobia

  2. 4 out of 5

    noah 🖤 #blacklivesmatter

    oh man i have so many conflicting feelings about this book. it was so nice to read a book about a trans dude. there really isn't enough representation out there, but, i gotta say, this was pretty much the boy version of If I Was Your Girl. plotwise it was so similar. the first chapter from pony's pov was a lot of info dumping on what being transgender is for him, it felt a little stiff, but thankfully pony's pov became a lot more casual and i ended up really liking him. it was really cute experie oh man i have so many conflicting feelings about this book. it was so nice to read a book about a trans dude. there really isn't enough representation out there, but, i gotta say, this was pretty much the boy version of If I Was Your Girl. plotwise it was so similar. the first chapter from pony's pov was a lot of info dumping on what being transgender is for him, it felt a little stiff, but thankfully pony's pov became a lot more casual and i ended up really liking him. it was really cute experiencing pony falling in love with georgia and i just wanted him to be happy. and for them to be happy together!! they have such great chemistry. the thing that got me really angry about this book was how black and white the narrative is about coming out. i know the message was supposed to be "be true to yourself" but it really came across more like "if you're not publicly out to everyone in the world you're a bad person and will never be happy." pony is called a liar by some of the characters for not coming out sooner. and he's constantly berated by his trans friends for not being out to his whole school. there's also an older gay side character who says one of his biggest regrets was not coming out on a large public platform. i think being out and proud and very vocal about it is great. those people are valuable members of the lgbt community, but i think queer people that only want to be out to their friends and family, and people that stay closeted are also important. this book made it seem like being trans was the biggest, if not the only, defining identity a trans person can have and that "lying" about it to everyone was more damaging than literally being beaten half to death. there's more to trans people than just being trans. and it's okay to protect yourself by limiting how many people you come out to. i think if this book didn't have such drastic ideas about coming out i would have absolutely adored it, because i did find myself smiling and getting warm fuzzy feelings while reading it. i really do hope this book inspires queer people to be true to themselves. i just hope they're safe too!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    10/14/19 "Stay Gold" ? "Pony" ? THE OUTSIDERS, anyone? Hello????

  4. 5 out of 5

    Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥

    Raise your hand if the first thing that came to your mind was: "Stay gold, Ponyboy... Stay gold..." *sobs* I love the cover and the plot idea so I'm really looking forward for this book to come out! =) The best way to find love is when it unexpectedly bites you into your butt. ;-P

  5. 5 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    This book is actually very traumatic to read. It's being comped to "Jenny Han and Becky Albertalli" and I think that marketing is a huge disservice to it. Yes, it has some cute highschool/first love moments -- but it is truly the story of a trans teen going stealth in highschool and the abuse, dysphoria, misgendering, and diminishing experiences Pony goes through the entire time. I definitely think there is a need for #ownvoices authors to write their pain! So I don't not recommend this book. I This book is actually very traumatic to read. It's being comped to "Jenny Han and Becky Albertalli" and I think that marketing is a huge disservice to it. Yes, it has some cute highschool/first love moments -- but it is truly the story of a trans teen going stealth in highschool and the abuse, dysphoria, misgendering, and diminishing experiences Pony goes through the entire time. I definitely think there is a need for #ownvoices authors to write their pain! So I don't not recommend this book. I just say go in knowing its not a romcom. the reasons I'm upset are: (1) there is some severe transphobia from the love interest (Georgia) and while it's obviously part of her arc to learn and become a better person, she never never apologises and she is never called out. Pony doesn't even internally think the things she says are wrong. She calls him a "liar" for not saying he's trans. He apologises for it. Profusely. And the only reason she won't date him is, you guessed it...because he's trans (she literally says "will that make me a lesbian"). (2) Pony has a trans friend name Max who is loud and proud about his trans identity. Pony is not out. Pony is going stealth in highschool and has an abusive family. Max literally pressures and bullies Pony about not being out, to the point of refusing to be his friend. Like the privilege and zero empathy were shocking mostly because it was never called out. Max doesn't apologise and Pony never once thinks about how Max is wrong to do this. Pony also believes he is "living a lie" if he doesn't tell people he's trans. I'm definitely not trying to say trans books should be happy fluffy romcoms where everything good happens to the characters. I felt this was realistic? The everyday misgendering and transphobia are what so many trans kids face. It was like this stark look at everyday life for many trans teens. So to be "shocked" by it is, obviously, a privilege. I just kept waiting for call outs, for internal monologues at least on how what was happening was wrong, for apologies, for a hint to the audience that this stuff wasn't acceptable. It just never happened. I'm still trying to wrap my head around how it compared Georgia hiding that she was a writer to how Pony had to hide he was trans. These things are not remotely the same level?! Not being out does not make you a liar. Pony owed NOBODY to be out and honestly, throw his whole family (except Rocky she was amazing) and all his friends and that whole school in the bin. Books about abuse need to exist; but please call it abuse. (view spoiler)[And then at the end...the dad just becomes a better person because Georgia asked so sweetly? And Pony is recovering from being beaten unconscious, having his binder ripped off in the bathroom by bullies, and in hospital with broken ribs -- and Georgie writes a post that goes a bit viral about how to SUPPORT TRANS PEOPLE because she is suddenly an A+ ally overnight. Despite having tried to find Pony's deadname, refusing to date him because he's trans, crying because he's trans, calling him a liar for being trans, asking questions about his past, saying "back when you were a girl" etc etc. But it's okay she grew overnight into a perfect ally. Also OUTED HIM ONLINE TO THE REST OF THE WORLD. Without. his. permission. For this "supportive" article. I'm dizzy with this. Also Pony had no problem with it of course, or with the whole school suddenly labelling him prom king basically to make up for the part he was horrifically assaulted at school. Like it felt so gross? Give the trans kid a prom king crown to make all the nasties go away. (hide spoiler)] There are sweet moments too. I don't want to sound like it's a terrible book! I really loved the audiobook, the narrators so brought the characters to life. And the writing was great, some fun banter and joke moments. Georgia had such a fun voice, and Pony was so so lovely. I enjoyed the first 50% a lot honestly. And while darker books aren't meant to be "enjoyed" I DO typically read dark books. I just am thrown by how this was handled. I'll just finish off linking you to some #ownvoices Goodreads reviewers. I don't want to sit here criticising an #ownvoices author for how he wrote his story. It wasn't the content, rather the handling of it, that I think needed more nuance. It's a reality crash-course for cis people to realise what transkids go through so so often and for that reason, yes, it's important. 2 star ownvoices review 4 star ownvoices review Also there is one single The Outsider reference and it's not why Pony even has his name. 😐I don't get this.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mimi

    okay, I very rarely do these trigger warnings but since this book is marketed as similar to To All the Boys I've Loved Before and said to be all fun and games, I feel like there need to be trigger warnings so people don't go into this blindly. Trigger warnings for: + casual aphobia + lesbophobia in every other chapter, ranging from actual insults "scissor sisters" to internalized lesbophobia and pretending it is the worst thing that someone can be, also the involuntary outing of two lesbians in fro okay, I very rarely do these trigger warnings but since this book is marketed as similar to To All the Boys I've Loved Before and said to be all fun and games, I feel like there need to be trigger warnings so people don't go into this blindly. Trigger warnings for: + casual aphobia + lesbophobia in every other chapter, ranging from actual insults "scissor sisters" to internalized lesbophobia and pretending it is the worst thing that someone can be, also the involuntary outing of two lesbians in front of the entire school + transphobia (both internalized transphobia and from the love interest, who both passively suggests she does not want to be with Pony because that would make her a lesbian and actively when she tells him to his face that the reason she does not want to be with him is because he is transgender and she does not want to ruin her image by being associated with him) + transphobic slurs such as shemale and tranny + pressuring the protagonist to come out as transgender (both family members and friends do this and one of them even ostracizes the protagonist when he refuses to come out) + very graphic assault of a transgender boy in a bathroom, including violence, slurs and exposing their body + suicidal ideation Like I said, I usually don't do these trigger warnings especially in #ownvoices narratives because I believe every voice is valid but I had nightmares about the assault because I was not expecting it in this book and the thought that someone who is transgender (or anyone who is part of the LGBTQIAP+ community, really) will pick this up and think they are about to get a cute romance á la Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky when in fact there is a graphic assault scene and mountains of discrimination from almost every character is just too much for me. So please, be warned and only pick this book up if you think you can handle the above mentioned themes. Take care of yourselves, guys.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    Being true to yourself may be the hardest thing to do, but it’s the only thing. That's the message at the core of Tobly McSmith's Stay Gold . As a military kid, Pony knows about starting over all too well. Since things at his last school went a little off the rails when it was revealed that he was transgender, for his senior year at a new high school he’s determined things will be different. This time he’s decided simply to pass as a guy and not tell anyone the truth. No one in his life thinks Being true to yourself may be the hardest thing to do, but it’s the only thing. That's the message at the core of Tobly McSmith's Stay Gold . As a military kid, Pony knows about starting over all too well. Since things at his last school went a little off the rails when it was revealed that he was transgender, for his senior year at a new high school he’s determined things will be different. This time he’s decided simply to pass as a guy and not tell anyone the truth. No one in his life thinks it’s a good idea but he just wants to be normal, you know? And then on the first day he locks eyes with Georgia, a popular cheerleader. He is instantly smitten. Georgia feels that same connection when she sees Pony. But she’s a cheerleader, so she’s supposed to date a football player, even if her last relationship ended disastrously. There’s also a lot of things Georgia wishes she could do or say in her own life, but she doesn’t want to deal with the ramifications. If Pony dates Georgia, how can he keep who he is a secret? Should Georgia follow her heart and mind or do what’s expected of her by her cheerleading teammates and best friends? Stay Gold is a sweet book that is tremendously thought-provoking, and it raises a lot of questions. Do we have the responsibility to advocate for those like us, or can we just live our lives the way we see fit? Is it wrong to want to keep your own secrets or are you obligated to be open and honest even if that means opening yourself up to abuse or even harm? While this book is relatively predictable in some ways, it also turns some stereotypes on their head. And of course, I won’t lie and say I didn’t tear up at the end!! Stay gold, Ponyboy! (Yes, they touch on that, too.) And the Pride Reads keep on rolling... Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html. Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caidyn (BW Reviews; he/him/his)

    The more I've thought about this book, the less I feel like it's a round up book for me. There are aspects of I don't like at all and think has a bad message. Also, the marketing is insane around this book because this is NOT a happy little romantic book. It's very triggering. I received an ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review! CW: outing, terminal illness, physical assault, bathroom harassment, transphobia, homophobia, using slurs such as "tranny" and "lesbos", pressuring someon The more I've thought about this book, the less I feel like it's a round up book for me. There are aspects of I don't like at all and think has a bad message. Also, the marketing is insane around this book because this is NOT a happy little romantic book. It's very triggering. I received an ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review! CW: outing, terminal illness, physical assault, bathroom harassment, transphobia, homophobia, using slurs such as "tranny" and "lesbos", pressuring someone to come out despite them not wanting to, unaccepting family, suicidal ideation and almost attempt, deadnaming and misgendering, abusive family, and other things that Mimi (another reviewer) caught and put in this review 3.5/5 This is an ownvoices review here, y'all, and this is one of the books that matches my trans experience closest. In some ways. Then again, I'm an ace and so I didn't have a high school romance. Nor was I a military brat. And I also didn't live in Texas. However, I did go stealth. More on that in a little bit! For those looking at this amazing cover, please know that this is not a "happy" queer book. While there is a happy ending to it -- although, it felt a bit rushed and too conventional for me -- this book is NOT happy overall. There are lots of insensitive comments and triggering topics that even got to me in some ways because, as I said, this is my life. So, when I was a baby trans, I made the choice to stealth it in high school. My stealthing was very different than Pony's, though. I stealthed it by not coming out and forcing myself to live with being deadnamed and misgendered daily in school. Luckily, I was able to come out to friends and my parents and find mainly acceptance there. But, I stealthed it. The second I got out of high school, I have never looked back and went on my journey. Still, Pony's story got to me on so many different levels. This book is sadly accurate. At times, I felt overwhelmed, that I didn't get why Tobly was shoving all of these triggering things into one book, that this might be more appropriate to explore across multiple books. However, I came to realize that this is the trans experience for some of my siblings. They have to deal with ALL of the things that come up int his book at once. But, the gist of the story is that Pony is a transman who isn't accepted by his family, except for his sister, Rocky. His father can be a bit violent at times and just won't accept that he has a son. When his father gets a transfer to another place, Pony decides that he's going to stealth his last year at high school and finally get to identify as a boy. He has a friend, Max (who I'll talk more about in a second), who is also trans and wants him to do more. Pony doesn't quite expect to fall for anyone at the high school, let alone a cheerleader, Georgia (again, more on her in a second). Things happen, but he does fall for her. He also makes a couple of friends with cismen (who aren't shits, I promise you) who aren't perfect either. He takes a job working for a famous actor who's dying and needs his things straightened out. And things kind of go to hell from there. So, I'm going to start with Georgia because she's more integral to the story. She's a cheerleader, as I said, who likes to lie and make up ridiculous stories. But, she also wants to be a journalist in some ways. She also takes part in a lot of pranks that keep escalating throughout the book to the culmination of prom, where things really go to hell. And, Georgia isn't perfect. She's what I would label a typical southern young woman. Never has been exposed to transpeople and has lots of misconceptions about sexuality and gender identity and what being with someone who's trans means for her sexuality. Pony does come out to her and her reaction is to tell him, basically, that she can't be with him because he's trans. That's hella problematic, but I love that this story also explores the growth of someone and how she learns throughout the book. I think that some people really will hate Georgia, but she also is representative of the people who are trying to learn and aren't always going to be perfect. Then, there's Max. I think I disliked Max more, although I'm very familiar with his type in the LGBTQ+ community. He's the sort that is all-or-nothing. If you're not out and loud and proud, then you're harming whatever queer community. And it's a privilege to be like that in some ways. I wasn't like that in my high school because I was pretty sure that I wouldn't get support from the faculty and teachers or my fellow students and that I would likely be targeted even more for bullying than I already had been (until they figured out that I didn't give a fuck and that I wasn't going to give them the rise they wanted). But Max doesn't see it that way. He constantly pressures Pony to do things when Pony isn't ready. To me, that's not a good friend. I wish that, like Georgia, we could have seen a different side of Max that was more redeemable and didn't fall into the having to be loudly out. I still stealth, for the most part. I don't feel like everyone needs to know my identity and I also want to read the room to protect myself. So my rating is lower than I wanted it to be because I felt that it was very triggering and it was hard for me to read since I gravitate towards happy queer stories. But, also, the ending was rushed. I felt as if it was wrapped up too neatly for the story and all the hard topics that were covered in it. Still a good book and I look forward to reading another book by Tobly, but it was really hard to read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    JD

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I don't often include reviews with my ratings but I found myself so conflicted after reading this book that I felt the need to say something and actually ended up writing a considerable amount. I don't know if it will add anything to the mix of reviews- my conflicted feelings are similar to those of others who noted the significant trigger warnings and problematic elements of this book - and I wanted to love every bit of this book. A YA book about a transman, written by a transman, with Outsider I don't often include reviews with my ratings but I found myself so conflicted after reading this book that I felt the need to say something and actually ended up writing a considerable amount. I don't know if it will add anything to the mix of reviews- my conflicted feelings are similar to those of others who noted the significant trigger warnings and problematic elements of this book - and I wanted to love every bit of this book. A YA book about a transman, written by a transman, with Outsiders references? What's there not to love? Unfortunately, much more than I expected. Please note as you move forward, that a lot of the trigger warnings noted by others will be present in this review, so be mindful of that as you progress. I would say my final rating is probably closer to 2.5 stars than 2 - but I felt I couldn't give a 3 - and the low score is mainly because of the problematic elements and trigger warnings, which I feel could have been mitigated, but were not because parts of the book - namely the ones where things could have slowed down to unpack the problematic messages being given and to explore them further in a way that would have given the message that these problematic elements are problematic rather than a way to create unity and equality - seemed to move strangely fast, while other parts of the book seemed unnecessarily long. Particularly the end, which is where I think there could have been some really amazing ways of addressing the problematic elements, came on so fast that there were times when I literally thought I'd missed a page or two and would pause and go back, only to see that it wasn't that I missed anything, things were just moving that quickly and becoming disjointed. One part that stood out to me in particular was the "pivotal moment" where our main character decides to out himself to the school because two lesbians were outed at the homecoming dance in a really awful way. One moment they're being outed, the next our main character is on the stage and announcing that he's transgender, after an entire book of wanting to be stealth and not wanting to be out. There's no internal dialogue going into that moment. There's no real weighing of the pros/cons of stepping forward or considering all of the elements that went into that choice. He's just up there and saying it, as though he teleported onto the stage. Which is one of the problematic elements - namely that there's this narrative throughout that trans people need to be out and open about their gender identity. Even though as a result of being out, the main character is the victim of a hate crime, that's still upheld as the right thing to do because, as you see in the ending, being the victim of a hate crime automatically brings your school together and creates support for the LGBTQA community. The entire book seems to frame this narrative of "If you're out and open, you're supporting the LGBTQA community but if you're going stealth or in the closet, that makes you selfish and damages the community." Even though the main character repeatedly says that it's unfair to put that responsibility on him and that it's up to each trans person to determine whether they are out or not, there's really no support for his position from external sources and given that he outs himself at the end - with significant consequences but also benefits because the community rallies behind him - that gives the message that trans people need to be out, regardless of the cost. I think this could have been avoided if there were multiple trans friends that the main character had, offering multiple perspectives on being stealth vs. being out, rather than it being just his one friend who pushed that agenda and then ultimately "won" that argument because of the ending. If it were framed more as a choice in the moment that the main character outed himself, where he'd considered all of the options and been supported in all of the options, I think that would have gone a long way in reducing how problematic that felt. I think what also really got me about the ending was just how fast it seemed and how quickly things became wrapped up in a bow within a sentence or two. Hillcrest went from being a place that did not seem inclusive or supportive, with multiple characters making all sorts of homophobic, transphobic, and other problematic remarks, to suddenly being incredibly supportive, all because of a hate crime. The fact that there had been those remarks made by others was just swept under the rug with basically a, "Yeah, we shouldn't have made jokes and wouldn't have if we known there were LGBT among us" which is super not cool because that 1) misses the fact that it's built into the culture of the school and 2) that's a shitty reason to not make those sorts of remarks. Then our main character's father went from being incredibly unsupportive, transphobic, and outright abusive to supporting the main character because he read some statistics on violence and suicide in the trans community and discovered that his own child had contemplated suicide. The fact that his child had been the victim of a hate crime didn't change his opinion at all but those statistics did. The suicide piece also felt very much swept under the rug, in that our main character is constantly thinking of suicide for the final 1/4th of the book, and that 1) no one around him seems to take him seriously when he brings that up or really even acknowledges that he's having those thoughts and 2) that those thoughts just seem to miraculously go away because of the main character's love interest writing an article that goes viral and increases support for him. There's not even a, "Wow, with all of this support, maybe things aren't so hopeless" moment. It's just that one second he's thinking he'd be better off dead and the next he's crowned homecoming king and everything is fine. Never mind that he was just the victim of a hate crime or that he can't bind for at least a year due to injuries received - and probably can't have top surgery for a significant time as well, even if the money is raised, due to those injuries - suddenly everything is fine at the end because he's been given some acceptance from the school and parents and people are doing a GoFundMe for his top surgery. I also definitely have issues with the hate crime being the turning point, which seems a really common thread in YA LGBTQA - and especially trans specific - literature. I think there's definitely space to explore hate crimes and the impact that has on people and from a writing standpoint, I can see how that becomes the climax of novels because it is so significant, but I'm also getting really tired of seeing stories about the LGBTQA community, where a hate crime or assault is the point that the main character grows or changes and those around them grown and change, so that everything is better moving forward. I would much rather be seeing a novel where the hate crime is the beginning - and off-screen because we don't need graphic depictions of that - and the climax is a different sort of pivotal moment. Especially in the rom-com subgenre where that's not needed at all and wouldn't be present in cishet rom-coms. I would much rather that the climax include the moment where the trans person has gender-affirming surgery or gets engaged to the love interest or even is crowned homecoming king/queen, after many trials and tribulations. It concerns me to have the hate crime as the pivotal moment because that seems to paint hate crimes in a somewhat positive light - like, since this happened, the main character gets what they were hoping for and the community is supportive and everything is good. It also doesn't give much time to process the aftermath because it happens in the climax, which, again, seems to diminish the significance of that event. I also did not particularly appreciate the entire part where the main character is hanging out with two of the people making really problematic homophobic and transphobic jokes and is all, "I'm with the boys" even though these two boys are incredibly misogynistic and overall gross. It kinda gave the message of, "To be a transman who passes, you need to buy into the most problematic elements of toxic masculinity." I would have really appreciated seeing the main character actually struggle with this experience of being around two people who are representing these worst elements and considering whether these are the people he wants to call his friends, rather than just having an occasional, "Oh, they were transphobic, that feels bad to me" moment or "I wish they wouldn't say things like that because it's not cool" and just go back to hanging out with them. Especially since these were the two characters who were forgiven because they acknowledged that they shouldn't have been making those sorts of jokes around members of the LGBTQA community - not because everything they said or did was shitty. It was actually even worse because they literally said, "Yeah, we thought you might be trans" when he outed himself, which makes those jokes 100x worse than they already were (which, spoiler alert, was already pretty freaking bad). It would have been nice to see the main character build other, healthy connections with guys who are not jerks and gross and to be able to find his place within the community and to learn that to be a man, he doesn't need to buy into toxic masculinity. That piece does worry me because I don't want that to be the message that younger trans people are getting. Someone whose opinion I value deeply once told me - "I see transmen as special because they have something different than cisgender men because of the experiences they've had in life and the perspective that they can bring to the masculine community." I would have liked to see more of that, with our main character discovering that he doesn't have to be stereotypical or buy into that toxic BS and can be the type of person who improves the masculine community, not just adds to the worst parts. And finally, also, with our love interest, she goes from saying she could never date a trans person and that she wouldn't want to be seen as a lesbian by being with our main character, to suddenly being incredibly supportive, all because he publicly outs himself to the school. Suddenly all of those feelings that she had change and she loves him 100% and is putting all of her support behind him. There are certainly hints throughout that she has feelings for him underneath of that transphobia and bigotry but the catalyst for her change feels really inauthentic and the fact that our main character is immediately like, "Cool, we're together now" also felt rushed and uncomfortable. As a whole, this review was a hard one to write because I wanted to like this book so badly and there were parts that I did. In particular, I hate writing it because I want to support trans authors - it means so much to me, as a trans person, to see that more trans voices are being put out there in the media because I never had that representation growing up. But I felt so conflicted and uncomfortable after reading this book that I really felt the need to say something. I don't necessarily think that the author intentionally put these messages out there but as a reader, this was what I came out of it with. I'm certainly going to still follow Tobly McSmith's work - I'm always open to second chances. But I couldn't let this book sit without commenting on my reactions.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Elaina

    I didn’t love the way this was written at the beginning, it was a little cheesy, but it did get better throughout and I did get used to it. But the first-person addressing the reader style isn’t a favourite of mine. At times it made scenes and monologues feel info dumpy and as though I as the reader was getting educated and lectured to. It was almost like a guide for anyone who doesn’t know what it’s like to be a trans teen. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it felt stilted to read and mad I didn’t love the way this was written at the beginning, it was a little cheesy, but it did get better throughout and I did get used to it. But the first-person addressing the reader style isn’t a favourite of mine. At times it made scenes and monologues feel info dumpy and as though I as the reader was getting educated and lectured to. It was almost like a guide for anyone who doesn’t know what it’s like to be a trans teen. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it felt stilted to read and made the book less enjoyable. The plot for this wasn’t my favourite. It’s kind of predictable and I’ve read a few books very similar and watched a million films with similar aspects. But it was enjoyable and just because I’ve read this kind of story before doesn’t mean it’s a bad story, if you know what I mean. It’s a preference and having a more diverse version of this kind of story made it worth the read. There are no where near enough books with transgender characters and I loved this book for the representation. But I can’t speak about how good the representation is of a trans character on a personal level. I haven’t seen enough own voices reviews yet so I’ll be looking out for them. But I can say there were instances where I felt as though the author was trying to be honest and heartfelt but it came across a little accusatory? As though certain decisions different people make regarding their safety and coming out are a bad thing. The main character going stealth and keeping the fact that they are trans from others they don’t know is written as though it’s a bad thing. I didn’t like this because everyone is different, not everyone will be in the same situation and not everything happens because of certain decisions people make. Sometimes people can be horrible and life can deal you a shitty hand. It’s okay to protect yourself in any way you want to. And the fact that the Pony’s best friend actually belittles him and makes him feel guilty for the choices he’s made was very uncomfortable to read. And it’s never addressed further than that, only in a way that portrays it as being wrong. I did think that the author did a good job at showing that no one should blame themselves for other people’s actions, the process of getting there was just a little too messy and uncomfortable to read. As a whole it was much more intense and hard-hitting than I was expecting and had been led to believe by the synopsis. There are some light-hearted scenes but mostly it follows Pony experiencing and reflecting on transphobic and abusive encounters. And trying to navigate around these while worrying what his friends and others think of him. In addition to having suicidal thoughts, which were used as a segue to teach the reader about statistics. As a whole I think a lot of things lend this to being a more educational read for the non-trans than for trans teens looking to represented. Overall I enjoyed this book and would recommend it, but make sure you’re in the right headspace for heavy topics. There is a very abusive scene that takes place in the school bathroom that was extremely graphic and hard to read, so please be wary reading this if you think that might be triggering for you. ——- So so so excited for this!!! 👀👀👀 Thank you so much to Harper Collins for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  11. 4 out of 5

    melissa

    I spent too many hours thinking about whether I should give this one or two stars. Turns out I'd be too nice if I gave it two stars. All the things I enjoyed about this were brutally canceled by the things I hated. I was so excited about this book when I found out it had a transgender mc and it ended up being my biggest disappointment of the year so far. First off, the pros: the cover. That was the only thing I liked. The cons: oh boy, I don't even know what I should start with. (view spoiler)[Geo I spent too many hours thinking about whether I should give this one or two stars. Turns out I'd be too nice if I gave it two stars. All the things I enjoyed about this were brutally canceled by the things I hated. I was so excited about this book when I found out it had a transgender mc and it ended up being my biggest disappointment of the year so far. First off, the pros: the cover. That was the only thing I liked. The cons: oh boy, I don't even know what I should start with. (view spoiler)[Georgia is one of the main characters, Pony's love interest. We get to know her a little at the beginning and we find out she's 'the popular cheerleader who actually has a very lonely life and dreams that don't involve cheerleading at all'. We're supposed to feel empathy for her, but that was nearly impossible. She was supposed to be the person who supported Pony the most and ended up being one of the biggest transphobes in the book. She falls for him and is the biggest sweetheart until of course, he comes out as transgender to her. It's valid if she needed some time to process that, I'm not judging her for that, but she ruined everything by calling him a liar for not coming out sooner (he didn't even lie about anything, he IS a man?????) and comparing him to the ex-boyfriend that cheated on her. Are you sure these are the same things, Georgia, when he didn't feel comfortable or safe to come out in a small town because he could be bullied and harassed? You're probably thinking: oh, but she'll regret that later and realize that what she said in the heat of the moment isn't what she actually meant to say. WELL, YOU'RE IN FOR A RIDE THEN! She never actually shows she's sorry for saying all of that and doesn't develop at all. There's no redemption that doesn't sound extremely rushed or that makes any sense. And that's not even the only time she said stupid shit! The second time Pony confesses his feelings for her, even if they're mutual, she rejects him just because he's trans and tells him that she can't risk ruining her image at school. And when you think she's going to apologize, she never properly does. She only tells him 'I had some stuff to figure out. But that was then and this is now'. Well, you're forgiven then! What kind of excuse is that? Does the author think this is going to make up for every transphobic shit she said throughout the book? She spent more time thinking about how him being trans will ruin her image than thinking about the guy she's supposed to have a crush on? The chemistry between them was nonexistent. Now, the thing that probably got on my nerves the most: Max. He's Pony's best friend, also a transgender man. He's out and proud, studies in a big school with many students in the LGBTQ+ community and has nothing to hide because he doesn't need to. He spends 90% of the book pressuring Pony into coming out to everybody, to the point he blackmails him and stops being friends with him because he didn't want to risk his safety by doing that. Pony felt so pressured that he ended up coming out in the middle of a prom, in front of everybody. He also did that to protect two students that were outed earlier and show them that they were not alone, but you can't deny he also felt really pressured and probably would have waited more until he was more comfortable if it wasn't for that. On the same night, when he ends up being beaten by some bullies in the bathroom, Max finally takes responsibility for his actions, which is the least he could do. But instead of recognizing how toxic he was, Pony just pretends nothing happened and keeps being his best friend, even though he's partially guilty for Pony even being there. It's so easy to tell him how proud you are and how brave he is when he would have many other opportunities to come out without breaking a few ribs, isn't it? Honorable mention: some of Georgia's friends, also cheerleaders, acted like the word 'lesbian' was the most offensive thing you could ever call someone. Overall, Pony and Georgia didn't have any development or chemistry because Georgia spent way more time thinking about how him being trans would affect her social status, Pony's best friend is a selfish and self-centered guy who blackmails him into coming out, and the message of the book was pretty much 'if you're not out, you're not proud and you're not gonna be happy'. And in case you're in the LGBTQ+ community and you're not out yet, please don't believe that. (hide spoiler)] You can be proud of yourself even though you're not out yet. Please make sure you're comfortable and safe enough when you decide to come out. Don't let anybody else decide the right time to do it, that's up to YOU. You are not alone.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Madison Mary

    "They raised daughters named Sarah and Rachel and now they have a transgender son named Pony and a unicorn named Rocky. They must wonder where it all went wrong." I had no idea that this book would have such a profound impact on my soul. I implore everyone to read this if they get the chance. SUMMARY Pony sees his new school as an opportunity to hide the fact that he is transgender and enjoy his senior year in peace. But when he begins to develop feelings for Georgia, one of the cheerleaders, "They raised daughters named Sarah and Rachel and now they have a transgender son named Pony and a unicorn named Rocky. They must wonder where it all went wrong." I had no idea that this book would have such a profound impact on my soul. I implore everyone to read this if they get the chance. SUMMARY Pony sees his new school as an opportunity to hide the fact that he is transgender and enjoy his senior year in peace. But when he begins to develop feelings for Georgia, one of the cheerleaders, he starts to fear exposure at every corner. Georgia no longer has any passion for cheer-leading, but she fears quitting and losing her popularity. She decides that she will lay-low for her senior year, but everything changes when she meets the new boy, Pony. REVIEW I cried at the end of this book. I did not expect to cry but I did. This story does not shy away from the horrors a transgender person experiences, or any LGBTQ+ for that matter, when society attacks them. Pony has a strained relationship with his parents, especially his father who refuses to use Pony's proper pronouns and still refers to him by his dead-name. It was hard to read at times because this is a very real world problem that trans teens deal with. His father is constantly asking when Pony will "give up this phase" and "go back to being a girl". It was hard. However, Pony has a supportive relationship with his older sister, who is exploring her own sexuality after running to New York. I loved their relationship and it reminded me a lot about how my brother and I interact. I would love to see a novel just about Rocky. I think that Georgia was an important character. I know some people may be annoyed, like me, at how she is so determined to not lose her popularity. The ways in which she tries to hold onto it no matter what. However, her relationship with Pony was very real. After Georgia finds out that Pony is trans, she freaks out because she doesn't know what that means for her own sexuality. I think that this response (as a white cis female) is understandable. I loved her character growth and the journey she underwent ... but for a majority of the novel she annoyed me. This book deals with a lot of tough topics, and it may be difficult for some people to read. Triggers include sucideal ideation, hate crimes, transphobia, and homophobia. It gets graphic at times, but this book is about not shying away from the struggles of being trans in the modern day. As a straight white cis-female, I cannot speak to the representation, however this is an own-voices novel. I personally think that the authors own experiences shone through this novel and added raw depth. There is a lot of talk about top-surgery and binders, the fear of entering a bathroom, dealing with parental struggles. I learnt a lot through this novel about the queer community, and think that this would be an eye-opening read for a lot of people. I would love to see a review from an own-voices reviewer, so I will be keeping an eye out for that. But overall, I adored this novel and found that it had a profound emotional impact on me as a reader. I will be reading more of Tolby in the future.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jane (whatjanereads)

    DNF @ 50% TW: Homophobia, Transphobia, (almost) deadnaming, constant misgendering (I think this book can be super triggering for many, so maybe keep that in mind before starting it. This is not your cute, fluffy romance.) A transphobic loveinterest and homophobic friends, that use homophobic slurs all the time. Parents and strangers constantly misgendering. Nobody is ever called out on it. Also to equal not telling everybody you’re trans with lying....(I was so mad at this!). Sounds great? Not to me. I DNF @ 50% TW: Homophobia, Transphobia, (almost) deadnaming, constant misgendering (I think this book can be super triggering for many, so maybe keep that in mind before starting it. This is not your cute, fluffy romance.) A transphobic loveinterest and homophobic friends, that use homophobic slurs all the time. Parents and strangers constantly misgendering. Nobody is ever called out on it. Also to equal not telling everybody you’re trans with lying....(I was so mad at this!). Sounds great? Not to me. I guess this was not my kind of book. I think it’s okay to write a “realistic” book, where not everybody is open minded. But if it’s a book for young teenagers I think it’s also important to show that these things are NOT okay and not to be simply ignored. And you do NOT have to tell everyone and their grandmothers that you are trans! It’s nobody’s business if you don’t want to tell! And friends who try to force you to do it and people who think about outing you...are not your friends. (Additional I didn’t really like any of the characters for mentioned reasons, and if I don’t fall in love with one single character it’s hard for me to go on reading anyway. Also I felt absolutely no sparks between the two protagonists and didn’t really get their connection.) After all this and reading two reviews of people I trust, I decided to not go on reading. I’m not saying that this book is horrible. Maybe it’s exactly the story YOU can identity with and feel seen. At the point where I stopped reading it only made me constantly mad.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dawnie

    there are so many fantastic things about and in this book. i really love how honest and real the book is about the struggles of a transgender person. how hard it is for the person themselves but also for the family, for friends and how some try to understand and be supportive while others just don’t understand that it’s not a phase, it’s not something you grow out of or change your mind about. that being transgender is not something that will change and suddenly the transgender person will want to there are so many fantastic things about and in this book. i really love how honest and real the book is about the struggles of a transgender person. how hard it is for the person themselves but also for the family, for friends and how some try to understand and be supportive while others just don’t understand that it’s not a phase, it’s not something you grow out of or change your mind about. that being transgender is not something that will change and suddenly the transgender person will want to go back to the gender they were born as simply because it’s the gender they were born as. and i appreciated that in this book because i don’t think anyone can actually understand the huge struggles that a transgender person has internally. we all take our bodies and how we look pretty much for granted and only keep seeing flaws that are almost petty. the moments we all look out ourselves and see too much of something here or too little of something there. we never look at our bodies and are thankful that we are comfortable with what we are seeing. and that that’s actually not something everyone is capable of experiencing. and i think that is exactly what this book is great about driving home: that transgender is more than just feeling! and i think especially that is something most people still have to lean! and books like this that talk openly about the struggles and hardships, share the bullying, the verbal and the actual physical beatings so many of not all transgender people have to go through is hard breaking but necessary to read! i loved all the little details this book included not just from pony’s perspective but seeing his dad struggle badly and handling it all so very wrong, mentioning the struggles of finally being able to go through the the body modifications necessary to help the transgender person feel more at home and self in their own body and how extremely expensive it all is! i think it was so well done how pony struggled with wanting to be normal, just be a boy and nothing else, and be out and proud because that’s not easy and he just wanted something to be easy. to me it seemed this book handled the topic very well. the rest of the book? that could have been better. the writing was okay but at some points felt a bit forced to try and sound young and i wish it would just have told the story instead of trying to imitate a teenagers voice. i also think this book tried to do a bit too much. we had this main boy with all his struggles of identity and sexuality that was questioned by so many and from so many sides. everyone constantly seemed to have options about who or what pony should be doing or be. and on top of that we had pony’s own struggles with it all and how hard it was for him to try and be the man he wants to be but seeing a girl when he looks at himself. but then we also have georgia’s struggles of trying to figure out how she fits into it and what she is if she likes pony. which was far but why also add the layers of her parents drama? and her cheerleader and friend drama? and then add so many other lgbtq+ characters and their stories into the book with basically no other reason than to have them represented. no don’t get me wrong! i so think it s important to show that being gay is not a new thing, that older generations struggles with that as well and didn’t have it easy, and that even being “just” gay is not easy in today’s time either. that it still very much something that is either treated as a joke or as something disgusting depending on the person being ask. which is horrible and i will never ever understood that at all. who cares for the preferences of another person? what does that have to do with you? anyways.... what i want to say with that is that i found it a bit too much for a book. i understand why it’s all included because real life is like that too, but for me it felt as if it was only in the book because it’s normal to have someone be a grandparents age and be gay and someone in your school be gay and so it had to be on the book! and that’s what bothered me. that it was so clearly pointed out in a “look there is more representation of the lgbtqa+ community in this book” and while i am all for normalizing and including all non harmful sexual orientations in book and i am so happy to see it there is something as too much too. and in book it’s not just the overall topic that has to be good. there also has to be a good plot and great characters and hopefully great writing and not just an agenda to push a topic. for me the rest of the book besides the transgender representation lacked. the writing wasn’t great or anything special. the characters lacked actual depth instead of mostly descriptive characteristics. and while there clearly was a plot around the transgender identity and struggle the side plots weren’t done that well. so all in all? this is a great book to read to learn more about what a transgender person might struggle with and it also shows a huge amount of different reactions to coming out an dealing with the time after the coming out. but if you are looking for more than that? not sure if this book will satisfy that.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ben Ace

    Why did no one tell me about this sooner??!?!!?!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elias

    The fact that I was expecting a cute rom-com when I picked this up and it turned into uh.. this made me really angry. But sure, as an issue book, it's pretty realistic, but shit there's so much transphobia and overall queerphobia that never gets challenged that it still makes me bad now, weeks later. Also, l wanna throw all the people in this book in the trash except Pony himself and his sister, cause they were all absolutely awful. Max esepcially pissed me off, the way he was putting SO MUCH pr The fact that I was expecting a cute rom-com when I picked this up and it turned into uh.. this made me really angry. But sure, as an issue book, it's pretty realistic, but shit there's so much transphobia and overall queerphobia that never gets challenged that it still makes me bad now, weeks later. Also, l wanna throw all the people in this book in the trash except Pony himself and his sister, cause they were all absolutely awful. Max esepcially pissed me off, the way he was putting SO MUCH pressure on Pony to be open, when that was not at all what Pony himself wanted (view spoiler)[(and it leads to him getting assaulted) (hide spoiler)] . And don't get me started on his so-called "friends" who were transphobic af and said slurs that ended up with Pony getting a panic attack, but hey it was only a "st*pid joke". And Georgia, god I can't even bring myself to start with her. The thing is that if you're gonna write a book full of awful shit, at least you have to properly challenge it, which this book doesn't, like at all. I would never put this in the hands of a baby tran, and if you are a (young) trans person trying to figure things out, you don't have to be a transgender advocate if you don't want to, it's perfectly fine to aspire to be and being stealth if that's what feels right to you. And you are deserving of all the love and a good supporting environment! Cw for physical assault, use of t-and h-slur, transphobia, TERF rhetoric, suicidal thoughts, internalized transphobia, unsupportive parents, dysphoria, toxic masculinity, outing, panic attacks

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    Wow! Little did I know going into this book that it would have such a huge impact on my soul. Stay Gold deserves all the stars... it had me feeling every single emotion - a true roller coaster ride! Thank you SO much Tobly for this powerful story! Trigger warnings: violence/hate crime, suicidal thoughts, gender dysphoria, homophobia, transphobia.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emily Forsyth

    This book was terrible Hopefully I can write a review once I’ve stopped fuming but all I’ll say for now is please please please look up trigger warnings for this book before you read it

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zoë ☆

    Maybe 2.5🌟? Not sure about the exact rating yet as it took SO LONG for me to actually get into it... The writing wasn’t my fave and the cheerleader POV really annoyed me most of the time 🙈

  20. 4 out of 5

    William Morrison

    Novel Trigger Warnings: (view spoiler)[ misgendering, homophobia, transphobia, harassment, suicide ideation, violence, (hide spoiler)] Summarized blurb: Pony is the new guy at his school. He also happens to be transgender. He decides not to disclose his peers though, as it would complicate everything, including ... whatever this is with his new crush, a smart and charming cheerleader named Georgia. There is more than what meets the eye in this dual-perspective YA novel about what it means to be t Novel Trigger Warnings: (view spoiler)[ misgendering, homophobia, transphobia, harassment, suicide ideation, violence, (hide spoiler)] Summarized blurb: Pony is the new guy at his school. He also happens to be transgender. He decides not to disclose his peers though, as it would complicate everything, including ... whatever this is with his new crush, a smart and charming cheerleader named Georgia. There is more than what meets the eye in this dual-perspective YA novel about what it means to be true to who you are. My take: I have a lot of feelings about this book. I listened to it on audio, and I finished it very quickly because I was captivated by McSmith's take on both Pony's and Georgia's perspectives. Up until the second half of the book, I was so excited to see such nuanced trans representation, and I really identified with Pony's feelings towards Georgia and himself. With this being said, I would not personally recommend it for transgender people, much less transgender teens. As a transgender man myself, I was severely taken aback by the ending where (view spoiler)[ Pony is assaulted in the bathroom by two cisgender men who beat him up, pin him down, and take his binder off of him (hide spoiler)] as well as (view spoiler)[ the overly showy response that those at his high school had where they supported him (hide spoiler)] . I was also relatively displeased at (view spoiler)[ the perpetuated trope of violence being what it takes or should take for minorities to be treated with dignity (hide spoiler)] and (view spoiler)[ the fact that Georgia only ends up with Pony after he comes out of the closet and realizes that people don't really care too much about his identity (hide spoiler)] . It appears clear to me that this book, while well-written, was not really not created for the transgender community. It would be an especially great reading for cisgender allies to better understand how one's trans experience might play out. But in the same way that the movie Boys Don't Cry isn't a movie that trans people are going to have on repeat in the background, Stay Gold isn't going to be an ideal read for most transgender people.

  21. 4 out of 5

    mahana

    2.5 stars tws: transphobia (assault, bullying, deadnaming, slurs), lesbophobia rep: trans mc

  22. 4 out of 5

    Penny

    Every trope and cliche of an 80s teen movie, including the pushy over the line love story that we are suppose to think is cute. I don't think I liked any character in this book. This felt like a shore to finish.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emma L.

    *** This review contains some spoilery reactions *** Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4/5 stars). This book has been on my most anticipated release for so long. Literally the moment when I saw that cover and read that description/synopsis. I'm so happy that we're getting more books by transgender authors about transgender characters. Not only was the representation amazing, the story itself was so damn beautiful and so important to hear. It definitely needed to be told and I'm incredibly grateful that I have read t *** This review contains some spoilery reactions *** Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4/5 stars). This book has been on my most anticipated release for so long. Literally the moment when I saw that cover and read that description/synopsis. I'm so happy that we're getting more books by transgender authors about transgender characters. Not only was the representation amazing, the story itself was so damn beautiful and so important to hear. It definitely needed to be told and I'm incredibly grateful that I have read this book. It is one of my favourite queer books ever and so many more readers/people should read this BECAUSE IT IS SO DARN GOOD! I also loved how the author showed the less glamorous aspects of the LGBTQ+ community. But without much further ado here are some of my thoughts and reactions while I was reading/listening to this book: OMG JAMES FROM THE POLITICIAN IS NARRATING THIS AUDIOBOOK. SHOOKETH NOW. Lol, she's the love interest and nothing else matters😂😂 damn dude. Isn't Hillcrest high a fictional school from likd a popular TV series??? Wait what you have to pay to see a high school football game EVEN WHEN YOU'RE IN SAID HIGH SCHOOL? Damn... PONY WHAT IS WRONG WITH LOVE ACTUALLY? Super mad at Georgia and how she reacted to Pony coming out as trans. Please tell me Georgia comes around. ALSO WTF WAS THAT WHOLE AM A LESBIAN BECAUSE SHE LIKED PONY. NO BECAUSE PONY IS A FUCKING DUDE! I love how the narrator for pony is non-binary! Like fuck yass and they are amazing. Lol, Pony is such an iconic dude. Reading Harry Potter in hope that girls will come up to him & flirt with him😂😂 WENDY IS AN ICON!!! HOW SHE GOES AGAINST MAX TRYING TO BE OUT AS TRANSGENDER. LIKE WENDY YOU ARE THE REAL MVP. Omg, I so knew that Kelly wasn't straight. She truly gave me the queer vibe. Max is annoying again. He can't stop the bullshit of ALL TRANS PEOPLE SHOULD BE OUT AND FIGHT THE SYSTEM, like of course Pony cares about it but like his family isn't already supporting, his ex-girlfriend wasn't supportive, Georgia kind of turned her back on him. Like of course he is scared and his new school is like the place where he can be just himself and not be known as the trans guy. Besides, his old school he received bullying and HE IS STILL A TEENAGER SO OF COURSE HE IS SCARED. And it might not be something he is super passionate about like Max is and that's okay. YOU CAN STILL SUPPORT THE QUEER/LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY AS A MEMBER OF IT BUT NOT BE ACTIVE IN IT! Yay, Ted is queer too. Love that too and sad that he has such a sad experience since he couldn't be himself & lost the love of his life ): MIA IS SUCH A SHITTY HUMAN BEING! She basically straight up pulled the WELL IT CAN'T BE BULLYING IF SHE ISN'T A LESBIAN. She is like saying it would be okay that Kelly gets bullied if she was gay. WTF MIA. She shook - I never thought that I would hear this in an actual published book. GEORGIA CAME AROUND, whoohoo🎉🎊🎉🎊 Rocky is GOALS. Actual sibling goals. Pony's dad is kind of really a dick and abusive. Damn, Pony's dad came around. Same with Max. I'm kind of disappointed by the lack of the outsiders references. JAKE IS THE REAL MVP! I literally thought this book initially would be three stars but lol the amazing message and amazing transgender representation so it DESERVES the four star rating. It is the kind of book that Meredith Russo wished she had written. 100% recommend it to everybody. Y'all need to read and hype this magnificent book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Claude's Bookzone

    3.5 Stars CW: (view spoiler)[Suicidal thoughts and ideation, anti-lgbtqia content, verbal abuse - lots of awful slurs, physical assault, drinking, terminal illness, death of a loved one, deadnaming and misgendering, pressure to come out. (hide spoiler)] This contains spoilers. I would suggest reading an ownvoice review to make sure this isn’t too triggering. I am not sure why this book has been suggested to fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before because that implies it is a light fluffy romance. 3.5 Stars CW: (view spoiler)[Suicidal thoughts and ideation, anti-lgbtqia content, verbal abuse - lots of awful slurs, physical assault, drinking, terminal illness, death of a loved one, deadnaming and misgendering, pressure to come out. (hide spoiler)] This contains spoilers. I would suggest reading an ownvoice review to make sure this isn’t too triggering. I am not sure why this book has been suggested to fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before because that implies it is a light fluffy romance. This isn’t a light fluffy romance. This is a story about the struggles of a transgender teen to get others to accept and love him. His journey takes him to some dark places which include horrific verbal and physical abuse. His father is unable to accept that Sarah never truly existed and that Pony has always been his son. There are some significant, and arguably necessary, info-dumps in the beginning parts of the book educating Readers on what it is like to being transgender. Once they are out of the way the story moves along more smoothly and at a good pace. I wasn’t a big fan of the superficial, grudge holding and self-centered Georgia. I especially didn't like her quick journey to enlightenment and acceptance as it seemed slightly forced. Don’t get me wrong, I was really happy to see Pony get the love and acceptance he deserved, however it was all very idealistic. But why not give it a perfect ending right? Why not show what true inclusion looks like in an ideal world where everyone is treated equally and valued for the content of their character? So bring on the fairytale endings and let's make them become a reality. He waka eke noa - We are all in this together (Māori proverb). I sincerely wish anyone finding their way to their true selves a safe and loving journey.

  25. 5 out of 5

    K.

    Trigger warnings: transphobia, misgendering, violence, homophobia, transphobic and homophobic slurs, assault, mentions of cheating. Review to follow.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Iz

    dnf at 46% i really wanted to like this one, and while it did have its moments, the constant reinforcement that being closeted is somehow "lying" is preventing me from recalling anything nice about this book. maybe this gets addressed later in the book, which is good if so, but i don't care to put myself through more of this. there are a lot of other things that bugged me about this book, but honestly i don't want to dwell on it. better luck next time

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    Sometimes you read a book that is just so heartfelt you know it was written from a place of love and understanding. This was one of those reads. Funny, smart, profound... All the good buzzwords. Completely worthy of the The Outsiders reference in the title. Read all about Pony and Georgia and fall in love just like I did. :) Sometimes you read a book that is just so heartfelt you know it was written from a place of love and understanding. This was one of those reads. Funny, smart, profound... All the good buzzwords. Completely worthy of the The Outsiders reference in the title. Read all about Pony and Georgia and fall in love just like I did. :)

  28. 4 out of 5

    || Soph ||

    *inhales* HIS NAME IS PONY OHEMGEEE

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leo

    own voices own voices own voices own voices own voices own voices own voices trans mc trans mc trans mc trans mc trans mc trans mc trans mc trans mc trans mc

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Bartos

    Umm...okay. Sure.

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