Beautiful Music For Ugly Children
” “This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. I’m Gabe. Welcome to my show.”
My birth name is Elizabeth, but I’m a guy. Gabe. My parents think I’ve gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know I’m right. I’ve been a boy my whole life.
When you think about it, I’m like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side–not heard as often, but just as good.
It’s time to let my B side play.”
Review and recommendation:
TW: Misgendering, deadnaming, transphobia from minor characters, sexual assault
Now that I’ve got some coffee in me and had a good night’s sleep to think this over, I’m ready to start my review, though… I’m honestly not sure on where to start with this review.
I guess by saying, I’m surpriesd?
I’m surprised that a cis author actually took the time to research before and while writing this novel.
I’m surprised that the only rather negative thing I can say about this is that some of the terms used are now outdated (‘transsexual’ the trans asterisk, etc), but despite the author’s note at the end where she states that she wrote what was used when it was published and that terms may become outdated over time, I still can’t completely rate this a perfect book.
It is a start though. It’s a start of a more positive view on trans men which I’ve not seen in a full length novel before.
This books follows Gabe, a trans man in his last year of high school (well, the last two weeks of HS and then the holidays before college), who absolutely loves music. He has a radio show at midnight which he named ‘Beautiful Music for Ugly Children’.
He’s a trans man I can really look up to, despite being fictional. He’s also very positive representation for us. He wears a binder, a very safe method of binding one’s chest. He’s very sure of himself and doesn’t allow others to make him feel bad for who he is (we could all use his courage). He’s sometimes scared of coming out, which a lot of trans people can relate to. His parents are ‘accepting’ but in the sense of they’re not ready to let go of their ‘daughter’ yet. But by the end there’s a small change which is usually how it goes. He has a hard time with love and relationships, he has some problems with his friendship that gets resolved. He has every day problems he faces.
Yes, he also faces transphobic assholes, but it does show that his friends (and fans) care for him and that you’ll find people who will accept you or be cruel to you and you need to stick with those who care.
There’s also parts where he feels he has to cling to societal norms (being masculine) in order to be seen as male, like one scene where he says he shouldn’t skip happily because it’s “unmanly” (but then does it anyway in another scene because he just doesn’t care, he’s happy and can do what he wants).
Lastly, the ending really made me smile but I won’t spoil anything, I promise!
Though I have heaps of questions about what Gabe will do in the future but seeing as this is a stand-alone I’ll probably never know (but then again, isn’t this what imagination and fan-fiction is for?)
But I honestly wish and hope that a lot more people will read this. As I said before, it’s not perfect representation but it is better than most and a lot closer to being perfect than I thought possible.
So I recommend this to everyone, go read it, go add this to your TBR (to your, probably, towering TBR) and give it a chance.
Rating: 4/5 stars