Another post in June, another starred review–hopefully, we’re filling up your to-read pile quickly. Today’s starred review is Ariel Schrag’s debut novel Adam, a book which seems pretty much tailor-made for our blog. Schrag is a long-time graphic novelist and comic artist who is already beloved of teens. And her novel is a classic coming-of-age story for the twenty-first century: boy meets girl, girl turns out to be a lesbian, lesbian thinks boy is transgender, lesbian falls for boy, hijinks ensue. Throw in some shameless profanity and a heavy dose of comedy and you have a book that could easily have been marketed directly to teens. Instead, it was published for adults, so we get the honor of featuring it here.
* SCHRAG, Ariel. Adam. 320p. Mariner. June 2014. Tr $13.95. ISBN 9780544142930.
A story set in 2006 against a background of gay-marriage demonstrations and the rise of transgender rights. The opening chapter of Schrag’s debut novel finds Adam climbing a tree leading to Kelsey’s bedroom window in Piedmont, California, hoping to score. He doesn’t, and his shame follows him to the cafeteria the next day where all of his friends are paired up and discussing summer plans. How to be cool and avoid more shame? He decides, too quickly, to visit his older sister, Casey, a lesbian, in New York for the summer, and this geeky awkward straight boy is put into even more geeky awkwardness. “This is my shithole,” Casey welcomes him, “And this is June.” June is wearing a T-shirt that reads: I WON’T GO DOWN IN HISTORY BUT I’LL GO DOWN ON YOUR SISTER. Adam notes to himself, in a wry and sarcastic voice, “Just in case the shaved head and bull nose ring hadn’t tipped me off that she was gay.” Thus begins a summer that will change his life forever: he falls in love with Gillian, a lesbian, and she falls in love with him, believing him to be transgender. This unexpected and entirely original love story is laugh-out-loud hilarious, tender, and insightful—an all-around brilliant romp of a coming-of-age story. Teens will feel they have hit the jackpot when they find it.—Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall, CA