cover image Too Bright to See

Too Bright to See

Kyle Lukoff. Dial, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-5931-1115-4

In this gently paced debut novel by Lukoff (When Aidan Became a Brother), 11-year-old Bug, a transgender boy, is having a difficult summer. His beloved uncle Roderick, a former drag queen who lived with Bug and his single mother for years, has just died after a long illness, and Bug’s remote Vermont house, which has always been haunted, has gained a new ghostly resident—one that seems intent on sending Bug a message. As Bug’s mother struggles to pay bills and hold onto the white family’s home, Bug’s best and only friend, Moira, grows intent on giving Bug a feminine makeover before middle school starts, something that Bug grows increasingly uncomfortable with. As he investigates the ghost, he grows closer to the truth of his own identity. Lukoff makes smart and thought-provoking use of the ghost story framework to reflect narrator Bug’s experiences as a trans boy, using genuinely creepy horror elements to portray dysphoria and societally enforced femininity. Through Bug’s journey to self-realization and self-acceptance, and the wonderfully nuanced understanding of gender he comes to, Lukoff provides a tender rumination on grief, love, and identity. Ages 10–up. [em]Agent: Saba Sulaiman, Talcott Notch Literary. (Apr.) [/em]