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384 pages, Hardcover
First published May 2, 2017
Monday morning was the worst possible time to have an existential crisis, I decided on a Monday morning, while having an existential crisis.
I laughed, desperately tried to keep the sound deep, and it came out as a strangled sort of hurr-harr, horf! noise. The sort of laugh a cartoon dog would have.
"Um," he said. "Are you okay?"
"Yep absolutely. Yes. Just something. Caught in my throat."
A slight pressure worried at the back of my head, and the blindfold fell from my eyes. I blinked rapidly, praying my eyebrows hadn't smudged. Thank God I'd used enough setting spray to freeze a ferret in place.
There was something deeply screwed up about that attitude. There is no world where “you’re wrong” is an acceptable answer to “this hurts.”
With so many queer kids at Kensington, people sometimes got weirdly comfortable, like they had a free pass to say anything they wanted about sexuality. I guess it was tempting to stick a rainbow-colored “Ally” pin on your backpack and call it a day, as if that were the endpoint, not the starting line.
“Honestly, the only thing more sobering that being poor was dealing with it.”
“I guess it was tempting to stick a rainbow-colored ‘Ally’ pin on your backpack and cal it a day, as if that were the endpoint, not the starting line.”
“Monday Morning was the worst possible time to have an existential crisis, I decided on a Monday morning, while having an existential crisis.”
“Femininity had always felt inaccessible to me—my best attempt at it had always been putting on makeup and pretending to be more patient and graceful than I actually was, mostly for my mom's sake. Sometimes in middle school, feeling awkward had become my default. Because I wasn't patient. I wasn't graceful. I was prematurely tall, I wasn't skinny, I wasn't pretty, and I didn't care about any of it as much as I was supposed to. Square peg, meet round hole.”
“Kensington, probably because it was an arts school, was such an overwhelmingly liberal place when it came to social issues—I couldn't imagine what it would be like to have that sort of opinion around campus. Or anywhere, really. It was a strange thing to have an opinion on somebody else's existence.”
“There is no world where 'you're wrong' is an acceptable answer to 'this hurts.'”
“It was downright depressing, the lengths it took to feel special when you wrote yourself out on paper. All As? Who cared? That was the standard here. Some shows, some activities? Big deal. How were you changing the world?
Sometimes, when I wasn't too busy, I wondered why we had to change the world so early.”
It stunned me how awkward a bunch of well-meaning people could be. There was something exceptionally clumsy about a bunch of cis kids trying to act nonchalant about her transition, rotating between aggressive supportiveness, curiosity, and intense silence around the topic for fear of saying the wrong thing. Trying to normalize—but not to ignore. Trying to be chill—but not distant. Things had grown steadily less weird as we come to the collective realisation that this was not, shockingly, even sort of about us.
[…] I hadn't given it serious thought, how my act contrasted with the way some trans kids lived their lives. I was on a website that trans people used for their day-to-day. I felt like I was poaching, fishing earnest resources out of this site and turning them into ruses to trick the Sharps. [...]
I thought of Nihal’s contemplative air and Isaac’s carelessness. I thought of Erik’s peacocking, showing off every talent he had, and Marcus’s desperation to please, and I tried to make sense of the possibility that any of these normal, decent-seeming people could secretly hate an entire subset of the Kensington population. It didn't compute to me. And it struck me, all of a sudden, how incredibly lucky I was not to have to worry about those opinions when I walked out into the world every morning.
I, Jordan Sun, was pulling off the most outlandish acting performance in Kensington history […] I wasn't just pulling it off, either, I was enjoying it, maybe too much. I liked the invisibility of being a boy, inhabiting a bigger and broader space. I was feeling less apologetic about it by the day.I also love the fact that Redgate made these guys very different and distinct, and with a minimum of two layers of privilege over Jordan, but doesn't make them just a mass of privileged, arrogant God's-gift-on-legs. Some very crappy behaviour happens, but you want only good for the Sharps, individually and as a group, and that works so well for this story.
. I hadn't had an answer then. I didn't have one now. I just didn't know. I'd never been sure if I was attracted to girls, or whether it was a too-strong awareness of how attractive I thought girls might be to other people. Three or four times, I'd had what I chalked up as weirdly intense friend-crushes; I'd meet a girl, get flustered, get fascinated, and for months, I'd want only to be around her.
Where was the line, though? Did I want to be around her, did I want to be her, or did I want to be with her?
Super lesbian, said some of the Kensington kids, knowingly, which was funny, since Carrie was married to the guy who worked every other weekend. Not that they actually cared enough to find out. With so many queer kids at Kensington, people sometimes got weirdly comfortable, like they had a free pass to say anything they wanted about sexuality. I guess it was tempting to stick a rainbow-colored “Ally” pin on your backpack and call it a day, as if that were the endpoint, not the starting line.