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Twisted gender ID tale rife with sex-talk topics.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Some students bully a bisexual student, calling him names and even becoming physical at one point. A couple's failed marriage, including their hostile interactions, are often discussed.


A bully threatens to beat up a bisexual teen, a friend intervenes and hits the male bully in the crotch. The transformations between girl and boy for the main character can be violent and are described as painful. A teen shaves his head in anger and cuts the skin.


Teens have sex, engage in heavy petting, discuss having oral sex and pornography. There are also issues of bisexuality and masturbation. A girl becomes a boy for several days a month and the transformation is described including descriptions of the girl grabbing her penis as she transforms.


"Bitches," "knuts-ck," "cock," etc.


British Vogue, the Gap, Nissan, Dolce and Gabbana.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teens smoke cigarrettes and talk about underaged drinking at prom.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there's underage drinking, a broken marriage, homophobia, sex, bisexual friends, and a girl that transforms into a boy every month during her period (well-described). Yep, you heard right. This book is sure to present questions on gay, lesbian, and transgender lifestyles, as well as questions about sex in general.

What's the story?

Jill changes into a boy every month during her period. It's weird, it's awful, and it complicates the important things in life, like prom, hanging with her best friend, and her crush on Tommy. Things begin to get even more crazy when "Jack," Jill's male alter ego, becomes stronger and stronger and begins to exert his will over Jill's life. Now that Jack and Jill are competing for the same space, things are going to get tough.

Is it any good?


CYCLER starts of with a bang and confusion, and that confusion continues throughout the book. Jill becomes a boy "Jack" for four days during her period and the author, Lauren McLaughlin, examines Jill's relationships through both Jill's and her alter ego Jack's eyes. We see her parents' very troubled and dysfunctional marriage, we see a close and sexually charged relationship with her best friend, and the relationship with her crush Tommy. It's easy to see how McLaughlin draws parallels between Jill's confusing relationships and her sexual identity issues.

The book does several things really well: It uses Jill's transformation to grapple with the feelings of teens who are gay, bisexual, or transgendered while highlighting acceptance issues among friends, families, and schoolmates. It's also pretty funny at times. What it doesn't do well is make a case for the ending. It's ambiguous and issues of sexuality aren't resolved in the length of a novel or even a lifetime, but that's being generous. The audience will likely find themselves wanting more of an explanation of Jill's condition, her parents' marriage woes, and more.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the differences between the sexes and if the differences are a product of environment or genetics or both. What would you do in Jill/Jack's shoes? How would it make your life more complicated? How is life more difficult for the bisexual student? Families can also talk about the different types of discrimination people can encounter.

Book details

Author:Lauren McLaughlin
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Random House
Publication date:August 26, 2008
Number of pages:256
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 14

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Teen, 15 years old Written byemma3amanda9 October 18, 2009

I cant wait to buy the sequel !

AMAZINNGG ! OMG ! I read it in 2 dayss ! I couldnt put it down ! Kinda confusing at the beginning but now I cant wait to but the next onee ! :)
What other families should know
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byPurstiltski7 March 18, 2010

Good for Anyone Wanting a New Idea

This was a very interesting book, with a fabulous beginning idea. The idea that Jill can turn into Jack for a few days each month and be a completely different person with a completely different view is very, well, interesting! The plot twists and turns, there's things to break your heart, and there's things that make you want to shout for joy. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone willing to read it who isn't put-off by the used language and many references to sex and sexuality.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages


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