Book review: The Other Boy, by M.G. Hennessey

Hennessey Other BoyHennessey, M.G. The Other Boy. HarperCollins. 2016. $16.99. 240p. HC. 9780062427663.

Shane loves baseball, drawing and writing his own graphic novel, and spending time with his best friend, Josh. Shane hasn’t told anyone at his school that he is transgender, but when a classmate finds out Shane’s secret and spreads it to the rest of the school, Shane has to deal with the consequences in his friendships and especially with his crush.

A middle grade novel in the vein of George and Gracefully Grayson, this book features a middle school student who is transgender. Unlike the protagonists of George and Grayson, however, Shane is already out to his family and has begun treatments including visiting a therapist and receiving hormone blockers. He plays on the boys’ baseball team at school and uses the boys’ locker room, just like everyone else on the team. Shane’s best friend, Josh, is amazingly supportive of him throughout the bullying incident(s), walking with him to class like he is a bodyguard and responding to those who are teasing Shane.

While bullying is absolutely a reality in school, particularly for those who are transgender or gender nonconforming, it is handled gently in this story, which makes Shane’s tale a perfect fit for a middle grade audience. Considering the dearth of middle grade stories featuring transgender characters, this book is a must for public library collections. Recommended.

Reviewer: Jenni Frencham
Youth Services Director, Columbus (WI) Public Library

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