A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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"Bitches," "knuts-ck," "cock," etc.
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Products & Purchases
British Vogue, the Gap, Nissan, Dolce and Gabbana.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens smoke cigarrettes and talk about underaged drinking at prom.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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