Author: Brie Spangler
Pages: 305 pages
Release Date: October 11th, 2016
Source: Hardcover from Penguin Teen
Genre: Contemporary, Glbt, Retellings, Young Adult
Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.
Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?
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** I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has not affected my review.**
LGBTQIA+ Beauty and the Beast retelling that's set in high school? Count me in!
Looking back on other reviews for this book I feel like I'm the only one mentioning this, but the writing is super choppy. Don't get me wrong. I love short and to-the-point sentences just as much as the next person but there were so many periods on every page that I thought I was just going crazy or something. Here's a little excerpt:
I tried giving it a few chapters but by the 100th page, I was done trying to force myself to finish the book. Despite not being able to finish it, I do commend the author for the inventive spin on the modern Beauty and the Beast classic. I thought the whole idea was fascinating, and I honestly got as far as I did because I was holding on to that idea. But because this is purely a DNF review, I want to be clear in why I didn't finish it."Everyday my hair is the same. Part it down the middle, comb it down so it covers as much of my face as possible, put the hat on. Mom hates my hair. It hangs in my face, she says. Hides my eyes. My hair is my thing."- pg. 2, Beast by Brie Spangler
- In the book our main character Dylan is sent to a self-harm therapy group because his mom thinks he hurled himself off of a roof on purpose. I only read up to his first meeting with the group but from what I read so far, I was't impressed. Dylan was practically insensitive to everyone there, who actually had self-harmed. Yeah okay Dylan, I get that you're angry at your mom for sending you there but that doesn't mean you get to shit on other people who actually need the support. There was one 'self-harm' joke that was made that really hit me in the gut. It might not have been intended, but as someone who has self-harmed before it really made me sick to the stomach. Not only was the joke said in a mock-like tone, I thought it also validated a stereotype that is assumed with all self-harmers. Not all people that self-harm use razor blades or knives to cut themselves, okaayyyyy?? Self-harm is described as any action that is done to harm the surface of one's own body.
"I want to laugh. Oh Gabrielle, take it from me. No one gives a flying shit how you really feel. Not your friends, not anyone.""'I don't hack myself up with razor blades,' I say"
- I get that this book is supposed to be a stab at bullying and judging people based on appearances. For a book that holds anti-bullying in such high esteem, I would have never expected there to be this entire excerpt of how the main character beat someone up because they owed him money. So Dylan basically finds it unfair how the world judges him on his appearance instead of getting to know him first because he's actually a smart guy, yet he goes around beating people up because they owed his friend, JP, money? And it actually made him feel really superior and good about himself. It kind of disgusted me.
- Yes, this book includes a transgender female character. That's the most fantastic thing ever! But before I mislead you, I just want to disclaim that I did not make it up to the part where it was revealed to Dylan that Jamie was actually transgender. From reading many (and I mean a whole shit-ton) reviews, I've heard that Dylan doesn't take finding out so well. A specific review states, "When someone points out that she's a trans girl, he flips out. He's cruel to her, smashes up his basement including the trains his father collected for him before he dided of cancer when the protagonist was young. The anger and hurt at being 'lied to' by trans people is SUCH a toxic meme that centering the experience of a cis dude getting angry and violent about a trans person's identity, EVEN THOUGH the book is clearly intending on him learning a 'lesson', is something I can't get behind." That being said, I wasn't looking forward to reading something that is the opposite of the reaction I was hoping from the main character. I didn't want to continue on...
Maybe this book had a great ending. Maybe Dylan's character learned more about himself than I ever learned about him. Maybe the reviews I read were all wrong. I will never know because I DIDN'T FINISH THE BOOK. So before I get a ton of hate for not appreciating this book for what it is, I want you to know that this entire review is based off of the 124 pages I did, in fact, read.
Just because I didn't enjoy this book, doesn't mean you won't. I feel like as reviewers, we are pushed to constantly repeat that line like a broken record. Please please please understand that people have different opinions, and I just didn't enjoy this book.