Stay Gold

HarperTeen. May 2020. 368p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062943170.
Gr 9 Up–New kid Pony sees cheerleader Georgia and experiences an instant connection. Georgia feels the same spark, but they each have their secrets. Pony is transgender and hoping for a fresh start in a school where no one knows his past. Georgia hides behind fanciful stories to mask the pain of her mother leaving and the pressures of maintaining popularity. The struggle to fit in, cruel pranks, toxic masculinity, and parental pressures all play a part in this coming-of-age tale based in an affluent Texas high school. Themes of acceptance and being unapologetically who you are will resonate with readers. Georgia and Pony’s playful personalities, as well as a diverse cast of supporting characters, will keep readers engaged. Multiple aspects of Pony’s transgender experience are portrayed, including body dysphoria, the costs of gender affirming surgery, and both supportive and cruel friends and family. Struggles faced by the transgender community are presented in a realistic way, and inclusivity is praised without being overly preachy. The title is a reference to S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and draws many parallels to the themes of the book.
VERDICT A necessary read that favors compassion and understanding. A first choice for all high school and young adult collections.
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