cover image Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

Kirstin Cronn-Mills. Flux, $9.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-7387-3251-0

Gabe Williams has a lot going on. He’s about to graduate from high school, he’s just started hosting a radio show, and he’s got a crush on his best friend Paige. Overshadowing it all: everyone knows him as Elizabeth. Cronn-Mills, whose The Sky Always Hears Me and the Hills Don’t Mind featured a teenage girl grappling with her sexuality, has clearly done her research. Gabe’s difficulties—from dealing with freaked-out parents and bigoted classmates to navigating love, sex, and whether to use the men’s or women’s room—are well documented. So much so, in fact, that the book sometimes feels like a PSA exposing the challenges a trans teen faces. Cronn-Mills never minimizes those challenges (Gabe faces some terrifying abuse), avoiding a too-happy ending, but Gabe and Paige’s supportive friendship and Gabe’s love of music shine through. Gabe spins Elvis, Devo, and Prince on the radio, and old media meets new as his fans come together via Facebook. It’s impossible not to root for Gabe as he finds the courage to live the life he wants. Ages 12–up. Agent: Amy Tipton, Signature Literary Agency. (Oct.)