Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Spy Stuff
AUTHOR: Matthew J. Metzger
PUBLISHER: Queerteen Press/JMS
LENGTH: 226 pages
RELEASE DATE: April 30, 2016
Anton never thought anyone would ever want to date him. Everyone knows nobody wants a transgender boyfriend, right? So he’s as shocked as anyone when seemingly-straight Jude Kalinowski asks him out, and doesn’t appear to be joking.
The only problem is … well, Jude doesn’t actually know.
Anton can see how this will play out: Jude is a nice guy, and nice guys finish last. And Anton is transgender, and transgender people don’t get happy endings. If he tells Jude, it might destroy everything.
And if Jude tells anyone else … it will.
In a splendid mix of humor and teenage angst, Spy Stuff brings out the daunting difficulties of being trans male when all you really wanna be is male, all the while still being incredibly charming and a fantastically encapturing read.
First days at a new school are hard enough, but first days at a new school when you are hiding a secret that forced to you change schools are even worse. Especially when you find yourself smitten with the supposedly straight class-clown. Add to that the fact that Anton’s father is a douche who misgenders him at every turn, his mother is struggling to find work after divorcing his dad, and that even the smallest of slip-ups could mean that his secret runs him from yet another school. Yeah, first days at a new school can be hard.
But they can also mean a new and fresh start.
There are good characters, there are great books, and there are stories I damn well wish had been around when I was still a teenager. This just happens to be all three.
I’m not entirely sure how I missed this when it came out a few months ago, but I am deeply grateful that it has come to my attention now. In my quest to read more books that reflect my own life in some ways, I’m willing to take just about anything that has trans characters in it. Yet this book delivers more than just a trans character. It gives us a compelling (and extremely well written) story and so many small and big moments that capture the attention and make you end the book begging for more.
And I really do wish that this book had been around when I was a teen. Granted, back then I don’t know if I’d have had the courage to go beyond my upbringing to read it, but even the chance would have been nice. There is so much here that I identify with, so much that speaks to me, and while I wish I had the chance to read it then, I am thrilled to have the chance to read it and share it with others now. I don’t really read much YA (the teen years are usually ones I am more than happy to forget even existed) but the subject matter forced me to look past that and see the gem of a story inside.
I am so totally recommending you read this. Hell, I’m recommending you read the damn thing then recommend it to everyone you see. It was not just a great book with trans characters, or a great book with a great story…it was just a lot of fun to read. I hardly put it down once I started. And once I got to the end all I could think was I gotta have more.