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Rachel Gold

Forfatter af Being Emily

9 Værker 213 Medlemmer 6 Anmeldelser

Værker af Rachel Gold

Being Emily (2012) 109 eksemplarer
Just Girls (2014) 42 eksemplarer
My Year Zero (2016) 28 eksemplarer
In the Silences (2019) 12 eksemplarer
Being Emily Anniversary Edition (2018) 10 eksemplarer
Nico & Tucker (2017) 6 eksemplarer
Curious Minds (2023) 3 eksemplarer
Synclair (2020) 2 eksemplarer
The Bubba Songbook 1 eksemplar

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Almen Viden




As a bipolar bisexual person it was great to have a character I resonated so much with in a book, and it was also fucking terrible because looking at the stuff I do from the outside made me feel hellish. But it's just testament to Gold's ability to really bring these characters to life and make them seem as real as possible.

it was also weird reading about a POV character with my name who wasn't the one with whom I connected most; I have the tendency to actively try to connect with fictional Laurens, it seems, but this time my attention was way more grabbed by Blake.

Spoiler for relationship endgame: YESSSS bipolar people can so too maintain relationships and studying and LIFE, suck it everyone in society who thinks we're just ticking time bombs waiting to go shoot people (a literal conversation I've had a few times recently).
… (mere)
LaurenThemself | Feb 20, 2024 |
I knew going in that I would have all the feelings by the end of this book; I've read Gold's work before and never failed to be punched in the heart. I don't know how to talk about it without spoilers, and I don't know how to talk about it with spoilers without crying, so I'm going to say I see a lot of myself in both Nico and Tucker and I just want to hug them both to bits.
LaurenThemself | Feb 20, 2024 |
I used to be a really strong believer in Toni Morrison’s quotation, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” Then by coincidence in 2014, both Rachel Gold and I happened to write YA/New Adult novels with a transgender main character and a lesbian romance that is also about same-gender dating violence. You know, that tired old thing again. Now I’m a believer in a new quotation, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, sit back and put up your feet and eat some pistachio nuts and let Rachel Gold write it because she’ll do a better job.”

My favorite thing about this YA/New Adult novel is how meta it is. An I-think-cisgender-but-I-can’t-remember-why-I-think-so-or-did-I-just-assume-this? author writing about a transgender character and a cisgender character who is telling people she is transgender. I loved Gold’s previous novel Being Emily, and the main characters Emily and Claire appear in this book... and they have written a memoir called Being Emily. It’s Emily-ception, my head is exploding!

So this story takes place at a college in Ohio and has two main characters: Ella, a geeky, femme, rich gamer/science girl who is transgender and bi/questioning, and Tucker, a feisty, lefty, working-class butch Humanities girl who is cisgender and an out lesbian. Because she has kind of a hero complex, Tucker decides to defend/protect the unknown trans girl in her dorm by saying she Tucker is that girl, and then she becomes the target of a lot of transphobic abuse on campus. In this way the author sidesteps the seemingly-obligatory violence-against-trans-teen scene by making it happen to someone else. (I say seemingly-obligatory because it’s very very common in YA with transgender characters, and I get why that is, but it harshes my mellow, and any change is as good as a holiday.) It’s certainly a way out I would never have thought of in a hundred years. However, the burden has just shifted over to poor Tucker. TW for violence, dating violence and sexual assault.

Anyway, Tucker and Ella become friends, then roommates, then closer friends, and then some sparks fly between them... but the romantic element of this book is a lot more complicated and realistic than this partial synopsis suggests, which is part of the awesomeness. Actually the romance/love triangle element reminded me of Adaptation by Malinda Lo. And there’s a part where Ella and Tucker and their friends use gaming for activism, which reminded me of Cory Doctorow. Since I love Malinda Lo and Cory Doctorow, this is some pretty high praise. But speaking of the romantic element, it gets pretty spicy, in a good way, but that plus the college milieu makes it more NA than YA, and not something that most people would feel comfortable having their grandmother read over their shoulder.

I’m going to get a bit more spoiler-y here. There are a lot of things in this book that were potential hazards but were very delicately and tastefully handled. And then a few other places in the book where I could pick it apart and complain about why did the author use this word or that word. But you know what, that’s the easiest kind of book review to write, and kind of boring, and I’m sure someone else out there has got it covered. The one thing that I did want to mention that seemed a little facile to me was that after one of the characters is raped, everyone universally urges her to report it to the campus authorities, and I definitely see two points of view about that. Then there’s a pretty swift and fair process of justice and the rapist ends up being expelled. That is so not how things happened in sexual assault cases at my university in the late nineties, and I’d like to think things have changed so much, but it’s kind of hard to believe. But I’m the one who doesn’t want uber-depressing books for QUILTBAG youth so why am I complaining?

Overall, despite the slew of bad things that happen in this book, there’s a real sense that everyone is basically “good people” and this is shown in a lot of ways. There are a lot of people who don’t know anything about transgender issues, and then they are educated, and then they are allies, as simple as that. Or there are a couple characters who are in conflict with our main characters, but then they realize they have common interests or it was all kind of a miscommunication. Two people who have both been abused by the same person have been pitted against each other in the past, but once they realize, they immediately help each other. Everyone is so nice except for a few baddies who are cartoonishly evil. (Honestly, I love characters like that; I know it’s not supposed to be good writing but I think that’s just a fad and evil characters are my favorite.) This “niceness” also manifests in a couple ways which seem more negative to me. There’s a neat character Nico who is genderqueer who is Ella’s friend, and when Ella’s new friends at the university meet Nico, they will not stop trying to find out what gender Nico was originally assigned. This is never revealed, which I thought was great. But, to me, the friends’ nonstop questioning was pretty horrible. But Nico doesn’t care. Actually all the characters are ready to educate anyone at any moment and they don’t mind being questioned. Then for the whole book I was waiting for someone to say to Tucker something like, I understand you mean well and you were trying to be noble, but it’s not cool to appropriate an identity that is not your own. This never ever happened. It was all, Thank you, Tucker, you’re so great. In general, I really really like it when my expectations for a novel are thwarted and the plot does not go the way I expected, and this happened bigtime here, so I take my hat off to Rachel Gold for all this. Finally I decided that this weird quality I couldn’t understand where everyone is so nice and eager to educate each other is because... they are from Ohio. People do NOT behave like this in downstate New York, no way no how. But maybe people are really like that in the Midwest?

I am putting my old reviews from Booklikes on Goodreads because the devil makes work for idle hands.
… (mere)
jollyavis | 1 anden anmeldelse | Dec 14, 2021 |
This book rocked my world! At one point when I was reading it, I started tearing up. (On the commuter train. Embarrassing.) Full review to come.

OK, here's the full review I promised. I was ready to like this book before I even opened it, because (as far as I know) it is the first YA novel set in our ordinary, regular universe with a trans girl main character. For the same reason, I was apprehensive about it. But BEING EMILY was so much more than I even hoped for. It was beautifully written (in terms of pacing, character development, and everything else I can think of.) Every single character in this book had depth. Here's a novel that goes deep, while being so engaging that I scarcely noticed what a thought-provoking experience I was having. The main character Emily is extremely likable. When the book opens, everyone knows her as Chris, a regular dude on the swim team who's into gaming. She wants to tell her girlfriend that inside she is really a girl, but she's afraid. One of the entertaining things that Emily does is run lines of code in her head that tell her how to act like a typical boy so she can playact through life (like "/run: greet teammate, 1. Speak "Hey man, how's it going?"). Emily's whole life is phony, and the only time she gets to be her real self is for a few hours before dawn, when she wakes up early so she can put on some girl clothes and go online to a transgender website.

Some of the chapters are told from her girlfriend Claire's perspective. At first I was worried that the purpose of these chapters was an info-dump on transgender facts that she was learning, but it wasn't like that at all. Claire is also a very complex, interesting, and likeable character. She is a strong-willed goth girl, and her secret life is that she's also a religious Christian. But she uses her religion to be more understanding towards other people, and never tries to tell anyone what to believe. I've never met anyone like that in real life so it doesn't sound that realistic, but in the book it really worked for me and was very believable. Her storyline was much more than just, "Will Claire accept and support Emily?"


Emily does not get beaten up in this book! I was so worried about an obligatory "trans girl gets jumped" scene that seems to be de rigeur in this genre. (And I get why that is, but it's too depressing for me.) Anyway, it never happened. Yay! The only person who gets attacked is a homophobic/transphobic loudmouth at school who Claire hits on the head with a textbook. Emily remembers a time when she was little and her father whipped her, and there's one self-harm incident, but they weren't too scary.

The part that made me get all sniffly on the train was about halfway through, when Emily has her first session with a new therapist, who worms it out of her that she is transgender, and then asks, "Do you have a name you call yourself?" Seeing this character who's been so guarded and despairing get a chance to open up was really touching.

The more Emily got to live as her real self, the happier she was. I thought that the way her parents reacted—not supportive and not accepting, yet ultimately giving their kid what she needed—was really well-done. This book also had an epilogue that told you where Emily was at three years later, which I liked. It seemed realistic that her full transition took years, which is longer than a single YA novel can easily encompass. I was so not surprised to see that Emily and Claire did not stay together for all eternity. They were very close and cared about each other a lot, but it never seemed like Emily felt that much passion for Claire, because there was too much other stuff going on in her life. I definitely learned some new things from this book, like about facial surgery and how long it takes hormones to work, and I really appreciated Claire's musings about the topic of makeup because it clarified some things I've never understood. It also made me consider deeply what does it even mean to "think like a girl," and what makes people think like a girl (training, hormones and biology, being treated like a girl, or just the feeling that you are a girl?)

I guess no review would be complete without a word of criticism, so here it is. Although I was in love with this book, and the author deftly avoided a million pitfalls, there was one brief part that I did not like. Claire is thinking about all the different kinds of people she saw at the mall, including "a woman in a wheelchair whose legs didn't work at all." (How did Claire know they didn't work at all? She didn't, she just made that up in her mind.) Then Claire thinks how grateful she is that she gets to date someone who is not disabled. This really got up my nose. It seemed like kind of a wiener slap—this thoughtful character basically says, "Being transgender is totally cool, but being disabled is a repellent tragedy." It's not that I think YA novels should be "PC" screeds, but because of its groundbreaking nature, this novel is serving an educational function. And basically I want everyone who reads a novel about transgender characters to go away feeling included and better about themselves, not alienated and worse.

Also, there was another little part where Emily visits her friend Natalie, who has already transitioned. (Natalie is a cool character, too.) They go to Natalie's monthly transgender support group, and Natalie warns Emily that the group is a little weird and one of the people is off-balance. Now, it does seem realistic to me that Natalie does not love everyone in the group and that there would be a crackpot. But this just made me incredibly nervous during the whole support group scene, wondering who were the weirdos and what was the not-OK way to be transgender. I wish we hadn't gone down that road. But, having said that, I have noticed it's hard to please everyone with a YA book about transgender themes, and I think that's because there are so few of them. There's such a huge need, and only a few books so far to fill that need. Readers get such high hopes, and high hopes always mean some disappointment. If there were a million books like this one, I wouldn't get so worked up. I'd just be like, "Whatever, I thought this issue was handled better in the one about the trans girl with spina bifada who solves crimes in space."

In conclusion, BEING EMILY was an awesome book. The cover is cool and it's all-around an attractive book. Bella Books seriously pulled off a coup in publishing it; way to go them. I could be wrong, but I think the only other YA that Bella Books publishes are a couple reprints. Little, Brown should be crying in their Wheaties that they failed to acquire this. I feel ready, willing, and able to read anything else that Rachel Gold ever writes.

PS. This book is totally clean and PG-13. It acknowledges that some teenagers have sex, but the main characters don't. Unlike this review, the book doesn't use the word wiener, or any words of that kind. I think progressive librarians and parents could feel happy about 12-year olds reading this book.
… (mere)
jollyavis | 1 anden anmeldelse | Dec 14, 2021 |


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