|Obie is man enough
Author: Bailar, Schuyler
A coming-of-age story about transgender tween Obie, who didn't think being himself would cause such a splash.
|Accelerated Reader Information:
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 4.00
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 512774
Kirkus Reviews (08/01/21)
School Library Journal (00/09/21)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 09/01/2021 Gr 6 Up—Seventh-grader Obie Chang just wants to swim competitively and get through middle school unbothered. This becomes increasingly difficult when his coach kicks him off the team for being trans, and when Coach Bolton's son Clyde (Obie's former teammate and childhood best friend) verbally and physically assaults him for trying to use the boys' bathroom. Obie tries to build the life he wants after the attack: he joins a new swim team with a supportive coach and teammates, all with their eyes on the upcoming Junior Olympics; his teacher Mrs. Salmani encourages him to enter an essay about his multifaceted identity into a national contest; and he's dating Charlie, the cute girl who works at his favorite sandwich shop. But the pain of broken friendship lingers, both with Clyde and with former bestie Lucy, who avoids Obie now and hangs with the mean popular girls. Fortunately, he has amazing people in his corner, and while the outcome of the JO competition isn't first place, Obie finds victory in becoming the young man he wants to be. Penned by trans athlete Bailar, this novel is a powerful, often difficult read. Depictions of transphobic bullying do not hold back in their severity—an opening note cautions readers, especially those who are trans. Inclusion of homophobic and transphobic slurs sting in their authenticity, as do references to past suicidal ideation. The dialogue is stilted at times—characters occasionally feel like didactic mouthpieces for broader cultural statements. There are expressions of maturity and introspection that seem optimistic for many 11–14 year olds, and for a bigoted coach—but these moments help shape a hopeful narrative for an empathetic and endearing character. Obie's parents are Korean and white, and Obie's mixed heritage is embraced throughout the text; secondary characters come from a range of ethnic backgrounds. Also included are closing messages to cis and trans readers, mental health resources, a glossary, and further reading. VERDICT A heartfelt coming-of-age tale about a young trans athlete; readers will be rooting for every one of Obie's wins, in and out of the pool.—Ashleigh Williams, School Library Journal - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 09/01/2021 When 13-year-old Korean American Obie, a transgender boy, expresses his desire to swim with the boys’ team, his coach—saying, “You’re never going to be a real man”—kicks him off the team. To make things worse, the coach’s son, Clyde, once Obie’s best friend, has now become his worst enemy. But not all is bleak, for Obie meets a soul mate in Charlie, the new girl in town, and the two become boyfriend and girlfriend. But what will happen when Clyde cruelly outs Obie to her? In the meantime, Obie has joined a new swim team and made supportive friends in Mikey and Pooch, who are aware of his transgender identity. A gifted swimmer, Obie then qualifies for the Junior Olympics and, to make things even better, makes the final round in a nationwide essay contest. Bailar, himself a transgender man and an accomplished collegiate swimmer, writes with authority, compassion, and emotional integrity. This, his first book, is extremely well done and will be a valuable reading experience for all. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.