Zenobia July is dealing with a lot of new – new home, new school, new family, new friends, new gender presentation. She’s overwhelmed and feeling out of control until a hacker starts posting bigoted memes on the school website. With her computer skills, she knows she can catch them, but how can she balance that with everything else?
Zenobia July is a really wonderful story of starting anew. As Zen navigates her new life, aspects of the old keep popping up. The vast difference between her old life and how she is living now cause her to seek out familiarity, though it may be to her detriment. She always pushes on despite her fears. As she makes friends, confronts bullies, and battles with herself, Zenobia learns to reconcile her past and move forward. The relationship between Zenobia and the people around her is vital to this progression. The friends she makes are especially important to her ability to move on. The other kids may call them weird, but maybe being weird is better than having to stay hidden.
What I loved most about this book is how it didn’t shy away from the aspects of the trans experience that are often considered too “adult” for children. From dysphoria to fear of using public restrooms to the relationship between the Christian religion and trans people, Zenobia July covers material that I haven’t seen much of in children’s books. Both the plot and the book itself show that transness cannot be considered an “adult” topic. The negative attitudes of adults towards it only make it more difficult for both transgender and cisgender children to understand and accept. Even within the story, adults largely influence the way the children view trans people. It’s books like these that can help both children and adults understand the trans experience and, hopefully, make the world a safer place for our trans siblings.
Yours in love and literature, Page.
Content warning(s): homophobia, transphobia, religious homophobia and transphobia, outing, islamophobia, mentions of antisemitism and racism, gender dysphoria, bullying, intentional misgendering, parental neglect
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