Spotlight on Diverse YA Books-Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

What’s It About: Lily is a girl living in a boy’s body.  Dunkin is a boy with a history of mental illness with a family going through a troubling time.  The two meet and make a connection but they are quickly pulled apart by the politics of middle school.  Separately, they must navigate their changing lives and family issues while trying to find their place in the world.

The Good: Gephardt does a fine job of breaking down the complicated concepts of transgender and mental illness for a young audience.  This is a book you give a tween or young teen who just learning about mental illness or transgender.  It is simplistic and basic and gives just enough information to introduce complicated concepts without overwhelming a young reader.

The Bad: This is a very simplistic take on important and concept issues.  If you are looking for a book that actually delves into the lives of people living with mental illness or who are transgender this is not the book for you.  It just skims the surface of what the characters are experiencing. Also, Gephardt defines her characters by these characteristics which means that lack of depth makes them feel two dimensional.

Bottomline: If you’re looking for a quick read which which touches on real life issues facing today’s teens then this is a great book for you.  However, if you want something that delves into the issues and has complex character then you may need to look farther.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5  

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