cover image Lily and Dunkin

Lily and Dunkin

Donna Gephart. Delacorte, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-553-53674-4

With humor and great sensitivity, Gephart (Death by Toilet Paper) juxtaposes the efforts of two eighth-graders—one struggling with gender dysphoria, one with mental illness—to establish new identities for themselves. Determined, gentle, and self-aware Tim was “born with boy parts” but identifies as a girl, preferring the name Lily; already “out” to her family and best friend Dare, Lily is both excited and terrified about reactions to a more public transformation. Meanwhile, mercurial newcomer Norbert hates his name—but loves the nickname Lily gives him, Dunkin, which alludes to his favorite haunt—and keeps deep secrets, even from himself. Their friendship develops slowly as Dunkin, desperate for acceptance, gets swept up by an intolerant basketball-playing crowd. Gephart sympathetically contrasts the physical awkwardness, uncertainty, and longings of these two outsiders during a few tightly-plotted months, building to a crescendo of revelation. Strong, supportive women accept these teens as they are, while their fathers struggle mightily. Despite an overly tidy resolution to Dunkin’s story and Lily being a bit too perfect, it’s a valuable portrait of two teenagers whose journeys are just beginning. Ages 10–up. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (May)