John Green and Jenny Han Fans Will Love This Brutally Honest Book About Gender Identity!

Article by Aimee Julia Pua

If you’re a fan of John Green’s bestselling books Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns (and, well, his writing style in general), or any of Jenny Han’s novels, you’re going to want to read this book I’m going to tell you about. Although I personally didn’t enjoy it (yep, not a Green/Han fan here), there were things about it that I know will definitely appeal to lots of readers. Plus, it has some gorgeous themes that people of all ages should be more open-minded about.

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There’s nothing I support more than books that feature real, modern issues that definitely need to be addressed, whether it be on racism, sexism, and all the other –isms (and more, of course) out there. Courtney Stevens’ Dress Codes for Small Towns is one of those books.

It deals with gender identity.

It’s not all about just identifying yourself as male or female. Sometimes, you already know exactly where you stand among the plethora of genders, but you can still be confused about other things. In the novel, the heroine Billie is almost certain about being a tomboy (but definitely a girl, no less), but for some strange reason, she feels the urge to kiss a number of people–some guys, some girls. The book honestly deals with how confusion is okay.

(READ: Breaking Stereotypes with Mx. CHE 2017)

It discusses love – all kinds.

Romantic love, platonic love, familial love, and heck, even love from the community – this book has it all. And, again, the confusion that comes with it. If there’s one thing about the novel that I admired the most, it’s how love was a beautiful mess in this novel.

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It talks about faith.

As a Catholic, it was slightly horrifying for me to read about the heroine’s confusion about the Church, but that’s probably because I go around thinking the things she did. Yes, yes. More confusion. The faith-related confusion was the one I could actually relate to the most. Her moments of I-believe-in-God-but-not-the-Church-or-maybe-I-do were really authentic and gave the book a break from all the love-related drama.


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