Act Cool

Tobly McSmith. Quill Tree, $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-303856-1
When transgender, implied-white actor August Greene, 16, who is struggling with suicidal ideation, learns that his evangelical Christian parents are considering sending him to conversion therapy, he flees his conservative hometown of West Grove, Pa., for New York City to live with his gay aunt Lil and audition for the rigorous, prestigious School of Performing Arts. Once he is accepted, his parents allow him to stay on one condition: that he not “change into a boy.” August agrees, but continues to present as male without his parents’ knowledge, forming meaningful friendships with an inclusive—if sometimes under-rendered—cast, and landing a coveted female role in SPA’s fall musical. He also begins to realize that he’s been using acting to avoid dealing with his trauma. Unfortunately, August’s motivations are often muddled, and clumsy prose, particularly dialogue, keep this sophomore effort from reaching its full potential. Still, McSmith’s (Stay Gold) approach to gender and dysphoria is compassionate, and the musical’s cast dynamics are well sketched; theater fans especially will find the discussion of representation on the stage compelling. Ages 14–up. Agent: Tina Dubois, ICM Partners. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 08/23/2021
Release date: 09/07/2021
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-06-303859-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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