Melissa reviews Spy Stuff by Matthew J. Metzger Published April 30th 2016 by Queerteen Press, 226 pages.
Anton never thought anyone would ever want to date him. Everyone knows nobody wants a transgender boyfriend, right? So he’s as shocked as anyone when seemingly-straight Jude Kalinowski asks him out, and doesn’t appear to be joking.
The only problem is … well, Jude doesn’t actually know.
Anton can see how this will play out: Jude is a nice guy, and nice guys finish last. And Anton is transgender, and transgender people don’t get happy endings. If he tells Jude, it might destroy everything.
And if Jude tells anyone else … it will.
A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: Well, Marc asked me. 😉 But really, the blurb sounded so very good I couldn’t say no. It’s also out of comfort zone theme week, and I was nervous about reading it but excited too.
This is my first transgender story and it was EXCELLENT!!! Anton was born Natasha, but gender wasn’t an issue as a young child. Wearing dresses didn’t mean anything because Natasha was still allowed to play sports and have short hair. It wasn’t until Natasha got her period at age 11 (wow, that’s young) that things started to be confusing and traumatizing. When Natasha was having serious freak outs about her period, her parents took her to a therapist who stated she was having a normal reaction to a girl getting her period. Suddenly, Natasha says, “but I’m not a girl!.” The light dawns; Natasha had never understood what the problem was – not understanding that she was meant to be he. Natasha’s mother was 100% supportive, but her father, not even close. He refused to accept Natasha as anything other than his daughter.
Anton is fortunate to have the love and support of his mother, who divorces Anton’s dad because he doesn’t support Anton being Anton. After the divorce, Anton and his mother move in with her sister and Anton is given a new life. Anton’s transition from girl to boy in his old school did NOT go well, and he was terribly bullied, so Anton is very nervous about going to a new school, fearing the truth being discovered.
When Jude (sigh, Jude – he’s just so dreamy. LOL 😀 ), who has never been attracted to another boy before, doesn’t shy away from Anton, Anton can’t believe it. I really enjoyed being able to see Anton and Jude become friends then more. They had a very sweet relationship and when Jude did learn the truth about Anton being transgender, he was completely okay with it. I didn’t know how Jude would react, but he was so blasé about the whole thing; very chill and open. This very fact made me cheer for them as a couple that much harder.
Even though Jude knows the truth about Anton, nobody else does. Because Anton needs to take precautions when he changes clothes for gym, or when he uses the bathroom, one of Jude’s friends becomes suspicious and causes tension among the group.
I’ll be blunt and say that I was surprised at how graphic some of the “love” scenes were. I’ve never read a book with teenagers (the closest I’ve been is 17-18 years old), so I was really shocked at how much was written about what they did with each other. There weren’t any truly graphic details; fade to black. But there was definitely more than I expected. This in no way turned me off the story. In fact, it made me more interested because Anton is still physically a girl (breasts and vagina), and there was a lot to learn about how a transgender person has sex. It’s different for everybody and I’ve never given it a thought, so this was a good thing for me to see and understand Anton’s limits. Jude was the BEST BOYFRIEND EVER!! And just was all cool about what he could and could not do/touch.
I really wish their story would continue because I want to know if they stay together – high school sweethearts who get married, you know? Maybe that story will come someday; until then, I see them still together and growing old with each other. 🙂
I highly recommend this story and especially if you’ve never read a transgender story. In my opinion, this is the perfect book to start with because it’s not IN YOUR FACE and preachy, nor is it too angsty or sad. It’s just right. 🙂
Matt writes LGBT novels, both adult and young adult, and particularly enjoys digging into the weird and wonderful diversity of people all across the sexuality and gender spectrums. When not writing, Matt is usually asleep, or crunching numbers at his day job. Free time is not really a concept here.
He is also owned by an enormous black cat. Approach with caution.