Cover of Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews

These reviews have been copied from the New York Public Library’s Website – http://www.nypl.org


Publishers Weekly

PW Reviews 2014 July #3

Born Emerald, Arin remembers trying on his male cousin’s clothes in fourth grade, as well as crafting a “homemade funnel” to urinate standing up. As puberty progresses, Arin wears black sports bras to minimize his chest and feels “betrayed” when his period starts. Arin first thinks he is gay, but things click when he discovers online what it means to be transsexual. Like Katie Hill (whose Rethinking Normal was acquired simultaneously with this book), Arin gets help from an initially reluctant mother, who, scared by his suicide attempt, decides, “I will support you. I can’t lose you.” Around the same time Arin gets a prosthetic penis, starts taking testosterone shots, meets Katie, and realizes, “I’d never felt love this pure or strong before.” Together, they become a media sensation dubbed “America’s First Teen Trans Couple!” Arin is remarkably frank about all aspects of his transition and keeps a casual, conversational tone while discussing everything from surgical options to inner anxieties. This is a brave book that handles complicated and sensitive topics honestly and, at times, with humor. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)

Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

School Library Journal

SLJ Reviews 2014 September

Gr 9 Up—In this memoir, a female-born, transgender teenager describes the challenges presented by his transition. Andrews was always pleased to be called a tomboy as a child; in spite of his body, he felt like a boy, and his mother’s insistence that he wear dresses and take part in pageants was painful. Andrews’s relationship with his first girlfriend, a lesbian, helped him become aware of the fluidity of gender and sexuality and realize that it wasn’t so bad to be different. However, his mother saw his girlfriend as a terrible influence and forbade the boy from seeing her. Andrews struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts: Who was he? Why did he feel so out of place? A YouTube video introduced the teen to the idea of being transgender. With the help of a family therapist specializing in gender dysphoria and an adolescent LGBT support group, Andrews began the journey toward transition and taking on his true identity. Readers will find many useful resources at the end, such as organizations, websites, and YouTube channels. The teen writes frankly and bravely about his transition and romantic relationships. This nonfiction account from an actual transgender teen author—as opposed to a novel, such as Cris Beam’s I Am J (Little, Brown, 2011)—is enlightening. The tone is more journalistic than personal, which may hold some readers at arm’s length, but this is still a solid addition.—Brandy Danner, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

[Page 165]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Reviews 2014 October #1

It was a story the media found irresistible: two transgender teens—Katie Rain Hill, an MTF transgender, and Arin Andrews, an FTM transgender—from small Oklahoma towns met against all odds and fell in love. Excited by the opportunity to raise the visibility of transgender issues, the two felt that their life stories could provide inspiration. As a consequence, they have now written their respective memoirs—or cowritten, since, in their acknowledgments, both thank their cowriters. This is Arin’s story. By the time the media discovered them, their intense love relationship had already become tenuous. Many things contributed to the demise of their affair: Katie’s gender reassignment surgery (paid for by an anonymous donor) and their ages (Katie went off to college, while Arin, two years younger, remained in high school). Katie then began seeing other boys without Arin’s knowledge, and, well, it’s a sad story and one that has, to a certain degree, been massaged. It would be interesting to have more information about the fact-fiction divide. Still, this is an invaluable title that puts empathetic human faces on a condition that otherwise might be presented as coldly clinical. For an expanded exploration of the two teens’ books, including a look at Katie’s memoir, Rethinking Normal, please see Michael Cart’s feature “Transgender Teens and Romance.”

Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews

VOYA Reviews 2014 October

The pictures that open the early chapters show a friendly, pretty girl smiling open-heartedly at the camera. But in easy, conversational style, Andrews recounts his persistent childhood discomfort with girlish pink accessories and his preference for being a tomboy. While his mother pins bows in his hair and enters him in child beauty pageants, Andrews winces at the “painted harlequin” he sees in the mirror. At thirteen, friendship with a fellow dance student who identifies first as bisexual, then as lesbian, leads to neighborhood gossip, and his mother’s fury. His Christian school expels Andrews after he questions its unbending condemnations of homosexuality. He considers suicide. Andrews realistically traces his mother’s journey from fury to reluctant acceptance to full support, finally achieved when a family therapist describes the Native American tradition of “two-spirit” people, incredibly wise healers Transgender “assembly” for Andrews has so far included testosterone treatment and “top surgery.” The book provides practical information on gender transitioning, directing readers to web sources for more details. Emotional “assembly” is rockier. An intense romance with Katie Hill, a fellow Oklahoman transgender teen, attracts international media attention. Two years later, Katie goes off to college and devastates Andrews by cheating on him. Haunted by the 1999 movie Boys Don’t Cry, Andrews promises himself to do everything he can to help transgender teens and to educate others. Teens will feel for him, root for him, and learn a lot about the costs and complexities of gender transition.—Katherine Noone Photos. Biblio. Further Reading. 4Q 4P J S

Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.



One thought on “Some Assembly Required

  1. Pingback: Some Assembly Required | Queer Young Adult Literature

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