It is Pride month, so reviewing this book seems extra appropriate. It is amazing to see how many books feature non-cis characters these days, often not even as a focus, but just there because it is realistic. It is becoming more and more common to be able to read a book and have a character with “they/them” pronouns or to have parents who are LGBTQ. This is the way we normalize non-traditional gender identities, because non-traditional is no longer the be all end all. Anyway, while I didn’t absolutely love all of this book, Kyle Lukoff’s Too Bright to See is one of those books I would love to see lots and lots of kids reading, even if it is just to understand what someone else might be thinking or feeling.
* Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Young Readers for a digital review copy. All opinions are my own.
This book feels like two separate books merged together, one that moved me deeply and one that left me feeling a bit meh. That said, the part that moved me overshadows anything else and makes this a book that deserves to be read widely.
It is the summer before middle school, and 12 year old “Bug” has just lost her uncle, who played a very big part in her life and lived with her and her mother. The first half of the book focuses on how Bug struggles with Roderick’s death especially in a house that is “haunted.” Bug doesn’t want to learn to wear makeup and consider which boys are the cutest in school, but also doesn’t want to lose her best friend. Bug’s uncle seems to be trying to tell her something and Bug has to step outside of her normal comfort zone to figure it out.
I’m not spoiling anything, as this is in the summary of the book, but the second half of the book deals with Bug’s realization that they are transgendered. This is the part of the book that moved me deeply and that is told so amazingly well. The kids that need this book will easily make it through the first half to get to the pages where Bug learns to listen to that inner voice and to look in the mirror and see themselves as they truly are. Bug is so lucky to be a part of a family that loves no matter what and part of a community that is open-minded. But Too Bright To See isn’t just for the kid questioning their identity. It is for anyone who might have a friend who is questioning their identity, which means everyone. Bug has to discover that all of those times feeling not quite comfortable in their own skin were because they were trying to be something they were not.
I can’t begin to say I comprehend what someone who is transgendered goes through, but Kyle Lukoff really does a great job trying to put it into words that many can understand. An important book because you never know who needs it.