Every so often a book comes along that offers absolute clarity about something you did not necessarily expect to find before opening the cover to discover the wonders within its pages. Looking over the cover and reading the quotes on the back led me to believe that I would learn about kids struggling to be recognized and accepted by society. Sure, the book definitely taught me a great deal about these teens, but the real story of this book is — Courage.
I have been in a war-zone. I have been shot at, had people try to blow me up, shot at other human beings and tried to blow them up but I was awed by the courage of each of the six teens focused on for this book. Every day these teens have a struggle that most of us cannot comprehend. They struggle with identity not in the personality sense but in the sexual sense. In the gender sense. There struggles are not clear cut. It isn’t about liking boys or girls or both. It is about a sense of ones mental self not being reflected in the mirror. Having the courage to face that realization and to take the steps to come to terms with and to change ones physical self to reflect ones mental self while society does little but mock those with the shear determination to be whole, like Caitlyn Jenner, or to refuse to accept those that do not identify with a gender like Nat.
I cannot imagine how hard teenage life must be for these kids. Sure they have guts but I know the ugliness of human nature. There is an evil that shows itself when mankind cannot come to terms with ideas counter to its belief system. Bullying is just as bad is it was when I was in school but now-a-days kids can reach whole new levels of bullying via the internet. I have the utmost respect for these six teens for sharing their stories with the world.
In thinking of teaching this book, I would hope that it may inspire some of my students to have the courage to express themselves. This is not an easy task anywhere, but it seems even more daunting in a small community. My students could learn a great deal from these teens from life skills to articulation. They could also learn a great deal about life by studying the author Susan Kuklin.