Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

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Parents' Guide to


By Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Twisted gender ID tale rife with sex-talk topics.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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Kids say (2 ):

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.

Book Details

  • Author: Lauren McLaughlin
  • Genre: Coming of Age
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Publication date: August 26, 2008
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 14
  • Number of pages: 256
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

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