A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Handsome Girl & Her Beautiful Boy, by B.T. Gottfred (Forever for a Year), deals frankly with two teens' gender-fluid high school experiences. Told from both Art and Zee's points of view, the brief alternating chapters are told in first person with lots of swearing and sex, and a handful of endearing pie charts. There are some fairly graphic sex scenes between Zee and Art, and several teen characters drink. Strong language includes frequent uses of "f--k" and its variations, "s--t," "a--hole," and "bitch." The takeaway message focuses on being true to yourself, giving and receiving love, and the importance of supporting each other.
What's the story?
THE HANDSOME GIRL & HER BEAUTIFUL BOY Seventeen-year-old Zee's mother is dying, her father's not in the picture, and everyone assumes that she's gay. When 16-year-old Art meets Zee, he knows she's magic, even if she can't see it herself, and he's determined to show her. As the story moves on, the two form a powerful and beautiful connection as they unpack the complexities of gender, sexuality, and identity. The author's message at the end sums it up: "The universe wants you to find partnership (purpose/happiness/pleasure/love/peace) with whoever (boy/girl/both/many/yourself) you want in whatever way (emotionally/sexually/intellectually/chemically/spiritually) you want."
Is it any good?
This is a fascinating, complex, authentic, passionate story about first love, connecting authentically with another human being, and being your true self. Author B.T. Gottfred shows what it means to defy gender norms and to persevere in the face of fear. The story's a bit slow to start, but the pace quickly picks up, especially during Art's scenes, making it hard to put this book down. In the end, this is an emotional and empowering story about a powerful connection between two high schoolers who are open enough to find each other, to love, and to live authentically.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the themes of sexual fluidity and defying gender norms in The Handsome Girl & Her Beautiful Boy. Do you notice how much gender affects the way you interact with new people? Do you know anyone like Art or Zee?
Families can talk about the realities of teens having sex. What are the emotional consequences of having a sexual relationship?
How does this story show the harmfulness of labeling others? Have you ever been labeled by someone else? How did this make you feel?
- Author: B.T. Gottfred
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Inc.
- Publication date: May 8, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 16 - 18
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.