I Am Chris

Bold Strokes. Apr. 2021. 240p. pap. $13.95. ISBN 9781635559040.
Gr 8 Up–On his way to becoming a bull-riding champion like his recently deceased father, 17-year-old Chris has a world of grief to manage: a no-good stepmother in a coma, an adored half-sister placed in foster care without him, and his own consignment to a home for delinquent boys—itself a step outside the justice system—overseen by a caretaker in cahoots with a villainous sheriff. On the plus side, Chris makes new friends with another young bull rider and with a girl who is still interested in him when she finds out Chris was identified as female at birth. Kent’s knowledge of rodeo and sensitivity to coming of age while transgender inform this empathetic and tightly plotted Western set in the mid-1990s. While various twists in the story would evoke disbelief if one were reading for probability, the authenticity of emotions and relationships makes this story compelling. Characters are coded as white.
VERDICT All teens will find characters that resonate and a setting that’s unusual in most contemporary fiction.

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