Always the Almost

Wednesday Bks. Feb. 2023. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250835208.
Gr 8 Up–A coming-of-age story of lost love, new love, self-love, and pianos. Sixteen-year-old Miles has recently transitioned to his true boy gender. His mom and best friends (and couple) Rachel and Paige welcomed him with open arms to the LGBTQIA+ world, but his ex-boyfriend Shane hasn’t, nor has his dad. Miles is in the early stages of figuring out life as a man, but he’s sure of one thing: he’s gay and still in love with Shane. Nothing seems to come easy, and he always feels like an almost: almost good enough, almost man enough, almost winner at the Tri-State Piano Competition. When new West Coast boy Eric arrives to their small Wisconsin town, Miles starts to see things differently. Being close to what he wants but never quite making it is wearing him down, and now he’s going for number one: date Eric, forget about Shane, and beat his piano archnemesis Cameron. Can a new name, a new boyfriend, and a new piano teacher get him out of second place? This story portrays the early stages of transition, and it’s refreshing to see a character go through so much unknown while surrounded by support. It’s not all peachy, but the character is mainly unscathed throughout the book, and the only troubles are the ones he brings on himself. It’s a joy to see the love of music Miles has, and one feels his passion in every passage he’s playing piano.
VERDICT A beautiful story of love, identity, discovery, and redemption. Recommended for all high school libraries, especially for those serving readers looking for authentic trans voices.

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