A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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
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.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
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."
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Zee swears whenever she speaks. Art does not. Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
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."
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.