February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker | SLJ Audio Review

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redstarBUNKER, Lisa. Felix Yz. 5 CDs. 6:03 hrs. Listening Library. Jun. 2017. $35. ISBN 9781524775258. digital download.

Gr 5-8 –Felix Yz would be an absolutely normal 13-year-old, if an accident in his father’s lab had not fused him with Zyx, a superintelligent being from the fourth dimension, when he was three years old. This alien causes him to appear disabled; Felix is painfully bent, and he twitches when Zyx gets excited, and sometimes cannot speak, making him an easy target for bullies. But he has the love and support of his family: his bisexual mother, piano-prodigy sister, and gender-fluid grandparent. Now that he is maturing, Felix must be separated from Zyx, or they will both die. The problem is that there is a high probability that one or both could die during the procedure. As Felix counts down the days to the surgery, he journals his daily life, with the help of Zyx’s perfect recall. His entries reveal a caring, introspective, and terrified teen who has a talent for writing and a crush on a biracial boy. Bunker’s multifaceted characters help readers consider gender identity, race, and sexuality pragmatically but thoughtfully, as she introduces gender-neutral pronouns and the concept of Threeness that Felix develops. Michael Crouch performs brilliantly; with true emotion and wit, he creates an instantly likable character in Felix. He, Tara Sands, and Erin Spencer beautifully manage the difficult task of voicing the broad cast of characters, Zyx’s interjections, and sister Bea’s observations. ­VERDICT This charming, engaging, humorous, and heartrending tale of self-awareness and coming of age is enriched by the superb audio presentation.–MaryAnn Karre, Vestal, NY

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

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