Welcome to St. Hell: My Trans Teen Misadventure

Lewis Hancox. Graphix, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-338-82443-8

A recollection of Hancox’s adolescence narrated by his adult self, this graphic novel memoir is an intimate exploration of his misadventures as a white closeted trans man in early 2000s England. Hancox, who inserts himself as a character guiding readers through his past, introduces his 11-year-old self, who’s “trying to be a normal girl.” When presented with the option of pants or a skirt for his uniform upon beginning high school, past-Lewis chooses the skirt to circumvent potential bullying but, as fellow classmates and narrator Hancox insists, he “was a boy in a skirt.” Though past-Lewis knows he’s a boy, any attempt on the narrator’s part to provide comfort or advice is rebuffed. Cartoonist Hancox’s classic b&w comic strip style provides levity to the narrative’s sometimes heavy material, such as teenage Lewis’s nervous habit of pulling out his hair, his disordered eating, and his parents’ divorce. Hancox’s depiction of his parents’ reactions to his transition is honest and empathic, highlighting the importance of familial support to his evolution toward adulthood. Earnest, sincere, and at times heart-wrenching, Hancox’s account of a youth spent knowing who he was but unable to express it is affecting. Ages 14–up. (June)
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