Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 704
A beautiful love letter to transkids
(Updated: February 25, 2022)
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Bug isn’t doing great. Uncle Roderick just died, middle school is about to start, and things with best friend Moira are weird. Moira wants to do makeovers, go shopping for dresses, and decide which boys are cuter, none of which appeals to Bug. The home Bug lives in is always a little haunted, but lately, the haunting is intensifying, and Bug would rather solve that mystery than perfect an eyelash curl. Whoever the ghost is clearly has a message for Bug, and it’s not what Bug thinks it is.

TOO BRIGHT TO SEE is a beautiful love letter to transkids. Bug initially believes he is a girl, the seemingly default option almost everyone else believes too. Bug’s journey in discovering he is a boy and not a girl is done with the kindest and gentlest tone. That isn’t to say Bug’s journey is easy or all sunshine, however. Bug is in deep grief over his uncle when the story begins and is surrounded by scary, awkward, and uncomfortable changes, like his mom being stressed about money, his best friend getting serious about making big changes before middle school, and the increased haunting activity. Bug is worried he won’t have any friends if Moira drops him and that he and his mom might have to move if her business doesn’t pick up. When the hauntings pick up and he starts to realize it might be Uncle Roderick, he then has the added stress of trying to figure out what his message is.

Kyle Lukoff’s writing is stunning. I was immediately drawn in by Bug’s voice, and there are so many beautiful moments of dialogue. Though this novel is only the shorter side at under 200 pages, every sentence is packed with clear thoughtfulness and care. There is an especially beautiful scene when Bug realizes he is transgender, and all the pieces he’s being trying to figure out come together. Something clicks in place, and Bug’s joy is bright and shining. I also appreciated the care given to the time following Bug’s realization. Though he knows his mom is supportive of other LGBTQ+ people, he still has a moment of doubt where he isn’t sure if that applies to him as well. He also wonders if Moira will understand and if any of the kids at middle school will bully him. The concluding chapters do a wonderful job wrapping everything up.

TOO BRIGHT TO SEE will fit perfectly on shelves with MELISSA by Alex Gino and KING AND THE DRAGONFLIES by Kacen Callendar.
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