In this tender, nuanced coming-of-age love story, two boys—one who is cis, and one who is trans—have been guarding their hearts, until their feelings for each other give them a reason to stand up to their fears. Two boys are starting over at a new high school. Jules is still figuring out what it means to be gay…and just how out he wants to be. Jack is reeling from a fall-out with his best friend…and isn’t ready to let anyone else in just yet. When Jules and Jack meet, the sparks are undeniable. But when a video linking Jack to a pair of popular trans vloggers is leaked to the school, the revelations thrust both boys into the spotlight they’d tried to avoid. Suddenly Jack and Jules must face a choice: to play it safe and stay under the radar, or claim their own space in the world—together.
All Kinds of OtherFeatured
Jack is trans and gay, and he is not out at this new school after the experiences he had at his old school in Pittsburgh. He came with his father out to LA, where his dad is hoping to break into acting. He also feels a pull towards Jules, but he is wary of getting too close. Then, someone sends around a video Jack had made with a friend when he was beginning to transition, and he has been outed to the school - and to Jules.
As Jules tries to understand what this means, his mother's prejudices run rampant and bullies at school have a new target. Even the GSA does not seem to be inclusive of all the letters in the LGBTQ+ members they are there to support. When the dust settles, where will they land?
What I loved: The major theme of the book is around the need for trans allyship and understanding. This comes up through past events and with the fallout of the forced outing, as we see the social, emotional, and even physical danger that trans people face in modern society. Even when people are accepting of the other letters, that T in the LGBTQ+ does not get the same recognition or understanding that it deserves. Through the story, readers can begin to understand what a true ally does/should do, understand the person, and also understand what is unacceptable (eg, dead-naming or asking about level of transition).
I found both characters compelling. They both have their own obstacles, but I loved watching them grow and fall in love through the book. The inclusion of blog posts, transcripts of youtube videos, and text messages add to the modern love story elements.
Bullying is also another theme of the book, and through the story, we can also see the power that allies can have to stop these destructive events and, most importantly, help support the individual being bullied (the value of knowing someone cares and sees you), as well as the importance of getting adults involved.
What left me wanting more: As a minor point, I found myself getting lost in the earlier parts of the book where I was trying to keep track of who was who and other characters who were appearing in blog posts. This does get smoother later on, when we understand who they are, but makes for a bit of a slow start. It is definitely worth sticking with it.
Final verdict: A powerful YA contemporary romance read, ALL KINDS OF OTHER combines compelling characters with thought-provoking themes into a coming-of-age book that will stick with the reader for some time. Highly recommend picking this one up on its own, as part of a book club, or in the classroom.