The Handsome Girl & Her Beautiful Boy

Book review by
Rachel Sarah, Common Sense Media
The Handsome Girl & Her Beautiful Boy Book Poster Image
Compelling story of gender-defying teens falling in love.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about the power of perseverance, love, and connection, and the importance of being true to yourself, living without fear, and letting yourself feel.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Art and Zee resist peer pressure to drink and party. Zee is a weightlifter who spends time at CrossFit. Art talks honestly about his dysfunctional family. Both characters stand true to themselves. Zee's mom faces her terminal illness with incredible strength and humor.

Violence
Sex

Fairly graphic sex scenes with mentions of blow jobs, orgasms, oral sex (e.g., Art says, "... oh my god, she's going to kiss my penis, isn't she?"), and in one scene, Art says, "Zee and I don't spend the whole day in bed together, but we spend almost the whole day in bed together. It isn't like this soft-core cable movie of nonstop sex. It's us talking and cuddling and kissing and doing things I've never seen on cable."

Language

Zee swears whenever she speaks. Art does not. Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch."

Consumerism

Brands mentioned include CrossFit, SportsCenter, Taco Bell, Target, Macy's, P.F. Chang's, Ben & Jerry's, Starbucks, Facebook, M&M's.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults and teens drink and smoke. Zee's father is a recovered addict. In one scene, Art turns down alcohol from Jayden: "I'm never ever going to drink with you. My family more or less are almost all drunks or stoners, so I have no desire to be like them." In another scene: "Abigail is drunk. Beyond drunk. So drunk she looks possessed. And worse? She's not alone."

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.

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What's the story?

In THE HANDSOME GIRL & HER BEAUTIFUL BOY, 17-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?

Book details

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