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Happy Families

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  433 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Teenage twins Ysabel and Justin Nicholas are lucky. Ysabel's jewelry designs have already caught the eyes of the art world and Justin's intelligence and drive are sure to gain him entrance into the most prestigious of colleges. They even like their parents. But their father has a secretone that threatens to destroy the twins' happy family and life as they know it.

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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  433 ratings  ·  90 reviews

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Oct 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017
This book was awful. Maybe if you were the child of a trans parent, you'd enjoy it. But as a trans person reading this, it was horribly offensive. I would never recommend this book to anyone. I'm pretty disgusted that this gets included in every "diverse" book listing I've ever seen. Yes, it includes a trans woman as the main character. And yet she is never addressed with her proper pronouns or name or anything. Skips right past "microaggressions" into "aggressive" territory. To redeem itself, ...more
Ysabel and Justin are twins, and they've had really happy and comfortable lives. That is until their father broke the news that he's really a transsexual, and now things have spun out of control.

Davis's story was really promising, and the premise was interesting, but I found the execution wasn't as engaging or as strong as it could have been. I think using dual narrators hurt the story; I never got to actually know either Ysabel nor Justin, and I never got to know their father or mother. There
Ms. Yingling
Jan 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ysabel and Justin both have their own interests, but enjoy hanging out with their supportive family. The book starts with them all at one of Ysabels art shows, but the next chapter is set much later. The twins father has moved out, their mother is stressed, and they dont want anyone to know what has happened. However, their mother feels they must deal with it, and sends them to stay with their father for spring break so that they can be with him... and come to terms with the fact that there ...more
Richie Partington
Mar 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Richies Picks: HAPPY FAMILIES by Tanita S. Davis, Knopf, May 2012, 288p., ISBN: 978-0-375-86966-2

We can work it out.
We can work it out.
-- Lennon/McCartney

Ysabel stares fixedly at the tabletop. My father smiles vaguely at the waitress, leaned away from the table so she can bustle around him, but theres a stiffness to his face. The slope of his shoulders telegraphs hurt, and I look down at my plate, wishing I was hungry, wishing that we were just all here for real, being together like before.
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
I chose this book literally by its cover - didn't even know it was about trans issues (of which I care a little [just a little] bit more above average about] or anything. It was... OK. I felt a little uneasy about the fact that it really seems like the author researched the topic pretty well, but, if I had to guess, has never actually had a personal relationship with any transgender individual. Because of this, there was some unexpected - and possibly outdated? - word usage, strangely clinical ...more
Darlene Stericker
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copy

The story here is of two twins trying to come to accept and come to terms with the fact that their father is a transgendered person.

There is a lot of emotion in this story and it always felt honest and real, never gimmicky or forced or phony. I very rarely cry unless a character dies, but there was a scene or two that had my eyes watering because their pain and confusion was just so intense and just there.

The book is narrated by both twins, Justin and Ysabel. I often like dual narrations
Abby Johnson
Jan 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Twins Ysabel and Justin have a pretty good idea about where their lives are headed. Ysabel is an artist and aiming to show her glasswork in some upcoming shows and ultimately go to art school. Justin is master of the debate team and his five-year plan includes getting in to Stanford. But nothing could prepare them for the curveball their dad throws them: he's a transgender person, enjoys dressing in women's clothing, and he's moving out. When Ysabel and Justin are forced to spend their spring ...more
I was drawn to this book because the subject matter is not something that is commonly written about in African American teen fiction. This issues book was a decent effort and will probably be helpful to other families going through a similar situation. As for me, I could not wait for this book to be over. It's told in alternating chapters in the voice of 16-year-old twins, Justin and Ysabel and shares the aftermath after their lives are turned upside down when they learn their father is ...more
Comes off as bibliotherapy. Still- there are interesting themes here of the role of shame and societal expectations in our behaviors.
Ysabel and Justin go to their small church with their family, they go to Christian High School.
This narrates (mainly) the week they start to come to terms with Christine- their Dad Christopher's alter ego. Christopher has kept his feminine persona separate from the family all along. When Christine is discovered, he retreats and moves away. The kids miss him, are
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I took this book to music camp and, despite my Code Name Verity advertising, this was the book that my room mates decided they liked. So I am very sorry Elizabeth Wein, but musicians prefer crazy families to WW2. I hope you are happy Tanita S. Davis because I failed to make people read my mother's book, although about five people in my room told me they were buying the book/buying it on kindle/etc.

Easy to read, interesting plotline, funny in places :)
Sam Poole
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Short and stripped to the essentials. Excellent book and perspective. Not many books about middle class, religious, trans POC, especially in the YA canon. There is no happy ending or resolutions- just slight promises of returns to a new normalcy and comfort. Ysabel and Justin can be petulant but their imperfections and their fathers insecurities are appealing and realistic. Definitely recommend for a variety of reAsons.
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author of this book is Tanita S. Davis. Some other books by Tanita S. Davis include, Peas and Carrots, Mares War, Summer of Memories, Summer of Friends, and A La Carte. Tanita S Davis was awarded a NAACP image award for Mares War. Happy Families is Tanita's most recent book she has written. Something I have read about her books are that they are known to be warmly drawn and a good conversation starter. Tanita S. Davis's typical style of writing are novels.
The title of this book, Perfect
The issues of transgender people shouldnt be issues. What does it matter to other people if they want to wear combat boots or high heels, lipstick or those smudgy streaks that football players put on their cheeks? (Seriously, what is the deal with that? Is it to reduce glare or keep kicked-up dirt from getting in their eyes or what?)

But the issue goes deeper than a passing whim to don heels and a fabulous wig. It goes to the very heart of identity, the way that other people see us and relate to
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Solid three.

I am curious about the Lgbtq community and would like to learn more about the history and struggle within it, so I try reading queer books.

I like the idea of the perspective, and i liked the reality of it I guess.

I just thought the kids where so whiny and annoying. Like stfu and get over yourselves.

I cannot say it was accurate representation, but I hope it gives voices to some and acknowledges the reality of some people.
Feb 20, 2020 rated it liked it
First, the good. We absolutely NEED books like this and it's the only one I know about from the perspective of a transgender person's children. It did a great job of illustrating some of stigma that transgender folks face as well as emphasizing how transitioning is a process, both physically and emotionally, including self-acceptance. I really liked that the author included relevant terminology and definitions at the back of the book. However, I found myself frustrated with the characters and ...more
Gulshan Naqvee
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Awesome transition story by whole family and many others!
Mary Wyman
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
(Read it years ago)
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
The writing is strong, but overall, the execution is very bland and weak. This book just isn't what it could be.
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Im being VERY generous giving this two stars. ...more
Important subject matter, but I wouldve wanted something more in-depth, more intense conflict or something that made me think a little more. It was a book about a transgender parent told from the perspective of their kids and its exactly what you would expect. ...more
man to women (father of characters)
Apr 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
*ARC from NetGalley*

Happy Families is undoubtedly an 'issue' book. I say this because, at 240 pages in length, there isn't much time for the author to delve into anything besides the issue at hand, and it feels designed to help young adults through a similar experience, rather than to offer a thrilling read. However, the former goal is an admirable one and Happy Families did make me understand the issue of transgender people much better than I did before.

Happy Families is narrated by twins
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Teenage twins Ysabel and Justin are struggling with the revelation that their father has recently come out as a Male to Female transgender person. Their family has been strongly affected by it, their father has moved away and their personal lives are in shambles as they dont really understand what it all means. Now its spring break and the two are expected to spend the week with their father so they can talk, using this short time together to try and figure things out. The three go to therapy ...more
GRPLTeens Grand Rapids Public Library
Appeal Characteristics: transgendered people, family relationships, sibling relationships, high school, society issues, TRANS-youth, adjustments, coping

There were some things I really loved about this book...and some other writing issues that I didn't. The subject aspect and execution was done well and realistically as these twin siblings struggle through their Dad's transition to be from Chris to Christine. I especially liked the father and son struggle that was highlighted and the other issues
Laura Salas
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, loved
OK, I see that the jacket copy and blurbs don't reveal what the family secret is, even though it comes out fairly early in the book and is alluded to in the dedication (or maybe the epigram--don't remember which) and on the cover. But if you don't want to know what the main conflict of this novel is, stop reading here!

Twins Justin and Ysabel are high school seniors with a family-shattering secret. (view spoiler)
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: realistic, glbt
Appeal Characteristics: transgendered people, family relationships, sibling relationships, high school, society issues, TRANS-youth, adjustments, coping

There were some things I really loved about this book...and some other writing issues that I didn't. The subject aspect and execution was done well and realistically as these twin siblings struggle through their Dad's transition to be from Chris to Christine. I especially liked the father and son struggle that was highlighted and the other issues
Brunette Librarian
Told from the viewpoints of two siblings, Ysabel and Justin, Happy Families asks what it truly means to have a happy family. Can things drastically change or is a family a cookie cutter of what we think it is? Ysabel and Justin, twins, see things through very different eyes. They both feel as if they have a good family, Ysabel is artistic and a free spirit while Justin is the golden child, worrying about grades. All that changes the night Justin sees his dad in the audience of his trivia teams ...more
Oct 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, ya, 2012, glbtq

Ysabel and Justin are fairly lucky twins. Ysabel is showing tremendous promise as an artist and Justin has a bright future in one of the countrys best colleges. Their family is close-knit and pretty happy. But then their fathers long-held secret becomes public, and it feels as though their family is being torn apart. Both conflicted, sad, and hurt about their fathers reveal, the twins struggle to come to terms with their new life. A spring break spent with their dad is planned to help them come
Tarah Schaeffer
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Goddess Test is the debut novel for author Aimee Carter. For those who like Greek Mythology and/or a not cheesy love story, you will enjoy this book!

Kates mother has cancer and despite all the doctors best efforts they have run out of options. So, to fulfill he mothers dieing wish the two of them move back to her home town of Eden. Kate almost immediately makes enemies with the schools reigning queen bee Ava and is tricked into going to a late night party. Unfortunately it is not a party
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