The Pants Project by Cat Clarke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
***I received a free e-ARC from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review***
THE PANTS PROJECT follows Liv, a transgender boy, as he navigates his first year of middle school and tackles his school's outdated gendered dress code.
I was initially hesitant about reading requesting this book because I couldn't find any information about the author and whether or not THE PANTS PROJECT was an #ownvoice book. Generally, I do not read books with trans characters that are not written by trans authors because cis people tend to make a mess and mockery of the trans experience. I did, however, end up requesting this book. There were a few lines that felt off to me (comparing being trans to being a transformer) but since that's outside of my experience, I can't speak on whether that language is problematic or not. While I am nonbinary, I have not had the same experience as Liv and so my review will not be focusing on the trans aspect until I hear from trans reviewers and what their thoughts on the language and terminology in the book is.
I did enjoy this book. The plot was solid and I enjoyed reading about Liv tackling a resistant intuition and forcing them to reevaluate their gendered dress code (pants for "boys", skirts for "girls"). I thought the reactions of everyone in the story was very true to real life. The characters themselves were wonderfully fleshed out, everyone had a distinct voice in the story, even the minor characters.
My favorite part of the book is that while Liv forgives his former best friend, he doesn't feel the need to accept her back as a friend. I think that's important thing for young readers to understand. Too many times we have books where the best friend betrays the MC in a terrible way but by the end of the book, they are best friends again. It's definitely important to remind young children (and even adults!) that we don't have to allow people back into our lives just because they are "sorry" that they treated us poorly.
A few things that I didn't like in this book: I wish the author would have explained more about Jacob's condition. This is a middle grade book and I'm guessing a lot of middle grade aged kids probably wouldn't really understand what hypermobility is. That was the second thing I didn't like about this book- sometimes it felt like the author forgot they were writing a middle grade book. The kids in the book are 11/12 years olds but sometimes it felt like the author was writing them as 16/17 year olds.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a good 'sticking it to the man' story.
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