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My Brother's Name is Jessica

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3.37  ·  Rating details ·  821 ratings  ·  166 reviews
Sam Waver's life has always been pretty quiet. A bit of a loner, he struggles to make friends, and his busy parents often make him feel invisible.

Luckily for Sam, his older brother, Jason, has always been there for him. Sam idolises Jason, who seems to have life sorted - he's kind, popular, amazing at football, and girls are falling over themselves to date him.

But then one
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 18th 2019 by Puffin
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Ward Maia Hi, I'm a trans and I haven't read this book nor will I be reading it because not only is the title very offensive, but also because someone thought…moreHi, I'm a trans and I haven't read this book nor will I be reading it because not only is the title very offensive, but also because someone thought it was somehow okay to write this in the blurb:

"Because what do you do when your brother says he's not your brother at all? That he thinks he's actually . . . your sister?"

If she's trans, she's his sister, end of discussion. And I know a lot of people are saying "oh, but it's from the little brother's perspective, you can't expect him to know better." Not only is this offensive, but it's also untrue.

I've lost count of how many times my grown-ass family members have said "you're not a guy, you just think you are" while my 9-year-old nephew completely gets me being trans and calls me uncle. The title of this book and the blurb is just another way to erase trans identities by taking the narrative out of our hands and masquerading it as just a sweet, naive boy trying to come to terms with his sister being trans. (less)
Maxine Webb It's easy for those of us who are trans, or are in LGBT+ bubbles to feel this way. But most people I've personally come out to haven't even met anyone…moreIt's easy for those of us who are trans, or are in LGBT+ bubbles to feel this way. But most people I've personally come out to haven't even met anyone who was openly trans before. Some who had even deadnamed them and disrespected them.

Trans people are not only a super-minority, they are also invisible. It's a lot easier for some of us to go through life not educating those around us in favor of just not disclosing.

Boyne DID talk to some trans people to help him write this book. I don't know what got lost in translation, if the help wasn't enough or if he didn't listen, but at least an attempt was made.

You can see from some cis point of views, that the book was well made. So honestly it's just understanding that the trans viewpoint still has a long way to go to be fully understood by cis people.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  821 ratings  ·  166 reviews


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Andrew Joseph White
(Note before we begin: Any comments calling me a bigot or reactionary, claiming cis is a slur, or telling me to write my own books [which I am already doing, thank you very much] will be blocked and deleted. I've already gotten rid of several and frankly I have better things to do.)

Edit: After a discussion, I have removed my rating of this book, leaving only my comment. However, it will remain a one-star in my heart, because I believe harmful books deserve negative reviews, but maybe that’s just
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A
Mar 28, 2019 marked it as abandoned
John Boyne stop misrepresenting marginalized children through the perspectives of children he himself can relate to challenge
Rowan MacBean
Mar 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
Everything about the outside of this book is a huge red flag for trans readers. The title and the blurb scream that this is yet another story that uses our lives and struggles as the backdrop to talk about how ~hard~ it is for the cis people in our lives to deal with us.

I am sick and tired of stories about disabled people that are centered around the ableds around them, stories about POC that are centered around the white people around them, and stories about trans people that are centered arou
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Nadia
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book has been heavily criticised by transgender community for its allegedly insensitive title and there are numerous one star reviews on GR from people who admit to have never even read the book! 

Well, I read it and despite the book being aimed at a younger audience, this is a wonderful and enlightening read with an important timely topic made accessible to a wide range of readers. 

The book includes an Afterword from John Boyne explaining why he decided to write a book with a transgender ch
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Jessica (Spooky KidLit & We Who Walk Here, Walk Alone)
Trans readers and writers shouldn't have to do the work for you - this title and synopsis are obviously violently transphobic in their misgendering and deadnaming of Jessica and their centering of cis characters' feelings - but since trans people are telling you how painful and harmful this book is, please listen to them.
Penni Russon
Apr 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
I'm cis. My son is trans. This review contains spoilers I guess, though its nothing you won't see coming a mile off.

Not only is the title a trash-fire, it's also the line used in the emotional climax of the novel, the moment in which the brother, on behalf of his family, publicly accepts his sister's identity in front of the media (the mother is running for PM, it's at a press conference). So yeah, at no point does the book outgrow its title. There's no self awareness or meta layers here.

There's
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Colleen
Mar 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
I didn't actually read this book, but as the spouse of a trans-person I can say that the title is both ignorant and hurtful. Jessica is the main character's sister.
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
Today this book comes out. I put a blast on Instagram and the blog, but I want to put it out here as well to people I'm friends with and follow.

If I see you reading/reviewing this book on my dashboard, you will be unfollowed. Perhaps you think that you’re just wanting to join in on the book and decide for yourself what you think. Good for you. I still do not want to see people reading, and perhaps defending, a book that has every single trans reviewer saying that it’s blatantly transphobic.

3/31
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⚔ Silvia ⚓
Yikes
☙ percy ❧
Apr 14, 2019 marked it as nein-nein-nein


so writers still aren't over the whole misgendering clickbait titles yet in the year of our lord 2019 i see

anyways if you want a YA book about trans people that is written by an actual trans woman so she acc knows what she's talking about, i highly recommend If I Was Your Girl, an utterly superlative book that made me cry (mostly in a good way) approx 9 squillion times and helps cis people understand the trans experience without all this deadnaming, misgendering garbage fire

seriously, tho - go r
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Sara
Mar 01, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt
I will literally read anything by John Boyne. I don't care if it's a book of blank pages. I'll still spend my time reading it.
Heatherblakely
Apr 01, 2019 marked it as will-not-read
Trans people can tell their own stories and we as cis people need to stop centering ourselves in their narratives. Full stop.
AJ
Apr 14, 2019 marked it as nope
A transphobic book by a transphobic author.
Vita  O'Brien
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2019
I was given a copy of “My Brother’s Name is Jessica” by Penguin Books NZ in exchange for an honest review.

I’d like to start by saying that I’m a cis woman and therefore can only speak on how I found this book from that perspective. I think if you’re curious about this book, it’d be worth your time to read reviews from trans or non-binary readers.

When I heard about My Brother’s Name is Jessica, I thought it could be an interesting take on the coming out genre, offering the perspective of a young
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Skye Kilaen
Mar 31, 2019 marked it as no-thank-you  ·  review of another edition
There are PLENTY of trans folks talking about how bad this whole idea is, please read their concerns before choosing to read/review this book.
Bobo The Bard
Mar 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
Whoo boy. Where do I even begin. Straight off, seeing the title and blurb, I can see issues.

The title deadnames the trans character. What is the problem, you ask? Because it makes it seem like the story is about a boy realizing he is a girl. This perpetuates the usage of incorrect language that does real harm. Would you like it if people called you by the wrong name and gender because "it's catchy?" Cringe. No. That is wrong. Even if no one knows yet because they are not out, trans girls ARE gir
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Tilly Latimer
Apr 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
CW: transphobia

I acquired an advance copy of this book, and I’m here to tell you to pass it by. Before I go further, let’s be clear: I am a straight cis woman. If trans people say that my review is wrong, please listen to them.

There are so many issues with this book, and I’m going to start with the least harmful ones: if you don’t want to run into transphobic content then don’t read past this paragraph (this is a content warning for those who would appreciate it). Firstly, the main character r
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Cam
Apr 10, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
10 things I hate about My Brother's Name is Jessica

1. It constantly deadnames and misgenders the trans character.
2. It views the trans character as a problem that our cis protagonist has to deal with.
3. The only character who outright supports the trans character is pretty much a cartoon character.
4. The sub plot involving the mum's career is seen as having greater importance than the trans character's arc, which is SUPPOSED to be the entire point of the book.
5. We're supposed to feel bad for
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Regsly
Mar 31, 2019 marked it as id-prefer-not-to  ·  review of another edition
The title for this book already sounds and looks like a big red flag: there's the misgendering and the stupid cutesy gender signs, like nope to the title design.

Then let's see: cis man writing about a transgender story narrated by a cisgender character, the brother, and focusing on his feelings, instead of Jessica's.

It has been done before, many times. Not only that, this is exactly the same premise as Luna (2004), except in that story it was the sister's pov. She kept misgendering Luna through
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Mizu
Apr 14, 2019 marked it as not-touching-with-a-ten-foot-pole
Mister 'I support trans rights but reject the word cis'. Yeah, thanks but no thanks.
AJ
Apr 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
So I haven’t actually read this book, but the title is offensive and transphobic, the description is offensive and transphobic, so I’m gonna go out on a limb and say the rest of the book will probably be offensive and transphobic too. Cis people, if you want to be an ally, skip this book and read something written by a trans person.
McCutsinger
Mar 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
Ah, transphobic garbage! Burn it.
Leigh Kramer
Apr 15, 2019 marked it as not-reading-problematic-content
CW: transphobia

After reading John Boyne's transphobic article promoting this forthcoming book, it's apparent how ever much research he did, it wasn't nearly enough. I can only imagine how the trans community feels right now. I'm very disappointed in Boyne. I loved The Heart's Invisible Furies (which is ownvoices for gay rep) but will be adding a caveat about his offensive behavior to my review. And while I was actually planning on reading A Ladder To The Sky during my trip this weekend, I'm not
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Rose
Apr 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
Just say you’re a transphobe and go, Boyne. No one needs another book about cis people “struggling” to deal with having a trans family member. We get it, you think your imagined struggles are more important than those of the person who you’re purposefully misgendering.
Marianne
Apr 02, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Please don't get this book if you think you are trying to be an ally, or trying to develop a diverse collection.

It's focused on Sam, the younger brother and his emotional reactions and difficulties, when his sister Jessica is going through so much stuff. Even at the end, page 230 of 240, he is still calling his sister 'my brother Jason'. Poor Jessica!

But what really got this book 1 star, less if I could was the line:

when I read [articles about transgender people] it seemed like things had wor
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Nitya
Apr 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
Ewwwwww @ the title

Double ewwwww at the cis author. Y’all read books by trans/nonbinary writers and avoid this transphobic mess.
hithereimleah
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I firmly believe that if everyone were to read this book, the world would become a kinder and far more understanding place. Such an honest, heartbreaking, and enlightening story discussing some of the most important issues that are dealt with daily - gender, relationships, family, politics and freedom.
Alana Saunders
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This book annoyed me. People were incredibly prejudiced then suddenly just not? It makes no sense. It wasn’t a terrible book though beyond that
Aimee
Review to come.
Ruth
Nov 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it, found it an easy and enjoyable read, but... and it's a big BUT... I found the way the central character kept saying 'my brother Jason' each time he referred to his brother really *really* annoying. Yes, I get it. It's your brother Jason.

This happened all through the book.

Every single time he referred to him.

I understand why the author may have felt the need to repeat the phrase, but to do it every single time was just irritating. Yes, drive the whole 'my brother' thing home - I get
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5,986 followers
John Boyne (born 30 April 1971 in Dublin) is an Irish novelist.

He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he won the Curtis Brown prize. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by UEA.

John Boyne is the author of ten novels for adults and five for young readers, as well as a collection of short stories.

His novel
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