I absolutely flew through Sarah Hagger-Holt's latest middle grade novel and I loved every second of it! Proud of Me follows two 'almost twins' Josh and Becky as Josh tries to find the donor whose sperm his two mum used to conceive them and Becky deals with her feelings for a new friend. This book was so beautifully queer and I loved all the representation throughout! The strong messages in this are sure to be a source of strength and comfort for children going through a similar time to the main characters and it's the type of book I wish I had while growing up! Although at the ripe old age of 22 I am far from being the target audience for this book, it was still a blast of a time to read! The only reason I docked a star is because the last 20% or so just felt tacked onto the end so that the book could have a sort of grand finale, but it felt a little estranged from the rest of the plot. Regardless, I can't wait to read more from this author in the future!
Thanks to Netgalley and Usborne for an e-ARC copy in return for an honest review!
I thought this book was absolutely beautiful and very well-written.
It follows the lives and experiences of Becky and Josh, two donor-conceived children who are 'almost-twins' and their mothers, Ima and Mum. Both children are in year eight and are experiencing some typical pre-teenage issues such as, friendship trouble and not knowing who they are.
However, there is something more going on as Becky starts to realise that her feelings for her new best friend Carli, might be something more than friendship. While Josh is desperate to find his actual father. Both of them just want their family to be proud of them, but they struggle to understand themselves and start keeping secrets from each other, and their mothers.
The themes that run throughout the book are belonging, growing up, LGBTQIA+ issues, family troubles, acceptance and the importance of friendship among siblings and friends.
I would use the book with Year Six children due to the mature issues it covers because it is both educational and moving. Everyone will be able to relate to the theme of feeling like you don't understand who you are because Year Six is a time of change and new life experiences.
Reading this book made me reflect on my own experiences at secondary school. The education was far from LGBTQ+ inclusive and overhearing homophobic slurs and jokes was the norm - giving the impression that being gay was not something to be open and proud about. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for students like Becky and Josh, who belonged to an LGBTQ+ family, to experience the same as I did.
Homophobia also seemed to be an issue in Becky and Josh’s school, however, the growing support for the school’s pride group offered a beacon of hope. A clear message I took from the story was that the future of the LGBTQ+ movement largely relies on the support from active LGBTQ+ allies like Ms Bryant and Carli.
I liked how the role of the narrator changed between Becky and Josh. I thought this emphasised the stark differences between their personalities and perspectives as well as highlighting the close bond between them and their shared admiration for their two mums.
This book is full stop amazing. As a daughter of two mums this book captures life perfectly! Usually books take me around 2 weeks to read but not this one. The two days that I was curled up in an armchair just solidly reading for hours on end without moving - captured in Becky and Josh’s life, family and secrets - were just amazing. I would recommend this book to someone who likes family drama, a tiny bit if romance, photography, secrets, and just a ‘book monster’ as we say in our household. I assure you, read this book and you will love it!
This book initially took me a while to get into as I kept putting it down. I’m not always hooked into books that rely on character voice and dialogue, as I find it difficult to visualise, but the more I persisted with it, the more I found myself wrapped up in Becky and Josh’s lives and problems.
Josh and Becky have two mums, and while Becky has never been interested in finding out about their donor dad, Josh desperately wants to know about him, feeling it’s the only way he can understand himself. Diving into online forums, he stumbles across Eli, a teenager who looks so much like Josh he believes they might be brothers. Meanwhile, Becky is planning her mum’s 50th birthday party, helping her friends set up an LGBTQ+ Pride group at school, and experiencing her first crush: unexpectedly, on the new girl, Carli.
This is a simply written but depthful story, full of well-fleshed out characters all navigating their own worries and troubles. All the characters and their complex relationships and fallouts are given so much time and attention, and while there was very little description in this book, it didn’t matter - I had my own images of all the characters and their environments because their personalities were all so distinct and their voices came across so strongly. Even the adults, who are often neglected or become stereotypes in books where the focus is on the children’s relationships, were so wonderfully real and present in the story. I loved how this story explored the generational divide between LGBTQ+ experiences, and the concerns of the mums over Becky’s safety in coming out so young. It was positive but didn’t shy away from real conversations and concerns that parents, even (or especially) gay parents, have.
Josh’s hunt for the donor dad added a background sense of urgency to the story, too, as he delves into online forums, lies about his age, and plans to meet a stranger online. It was well thought-out, highlighting the dangers of the online world realistically, and emphasising the importance of honesty and trust in online safety.
Overall, I ended up enjoying this book a lot more than I expected to with the slow start. It’s moving and warm, honest and positive, but also shows very real family, friendship and relationship struggles, the complexities of LGBTQ+ safety, online safety, how religion is/can be part of LGBTQ+ people’s lives (one of the mums is practicing Jewish and this was another layer I loved about this story), and that religions can also accept and include LGBTQ+ people without bigotry/‘tollerance’. A must-have book for all KS2 & KS3 classrooms/libraries!
Proud of Me is a story which follows donor-conceived, almost twins, Becky and Josh, and their two mums.
Both Becky and Josh are in year 8 and are having trouble with knowing and accepting who they are. Josh is desperate to find out who their donor was and Becky begins to have feelings for the new girl, Carli.
This book is really well-written and engaging and I don’t think I’ve read a book that covers LGBTQ+ in this way before. Becky and Josh are part of the Pride Club at school and this spreads lots of positivity surrounding these groups but also that these groups aren’t just for those who are LGBTQ+ but also supporters and anyone who is still developing a sense of self. I think it would be good to use for a Year 6 class as they begin to change and get ready for secondary school and it would be a nice reminder that it’s okay to not know quite who you are yet, because there’s lots of support along the way. This book also shows the reader how important is it to open up to those who are closest to you, and the damage that keeping secrets may cause. The story is told in a dual narrative, telling the story from both Becky and Josh’s point of view. Telling the story in this way enables the reader to read the same story but with two different view points, being able to understand the thoughts and feelings of the two protagonists.
The main themes of this book, alongside LGBTQ+ are friendship, sense of self / self-acceptance , journeys and family.
This was an emotional read that packed a lot of issues into its relatively few pages! I particularly liked the exploration of generational differences regarding LGBT+ acceptance and the recognition of the nuances of self-acceptance for LGBT+ people (i.e. the possibility of simultaneous pride and internalised shame). The acknowledgement of the legacies of Section 28 were sobering and inevitably relatable for many adult readers.
I think older primary age children would really benefit from reading this (especially in terms of learning about different types of families) but it should be noted that it requires a certain level of understanding in respect to reproduction and LGBT+ identities.
This is middle grade story about brother and sister who have two mums and were born to sperm donors. We see struggles from them as they deal with their identities both in terms of sexuality and ‘identity’ in only knowing half of what makes you you. It’s quite an upbeat tale and perhaps loses realism points in how most of the school are accepting (high school is still full of homophobic assholes sadly) and parents whose religion makes them unaccepting of same sex relationships. Whilst there was some drama in the story, it was still all a bit safe. More like a tale of hope than experience, and the lack of forward resolution left it feeling unfinished to me.
Proud of Me is one of those wonderfully progressive middle grade books that introduces lots of important themes in a gentle way. There are so many aspects to this story, Becky and Josh both dealing with the complexities of everyday life and both facing their own individual dilemmas. Perhaps most interestingly, as its not something I've ever encountered in a middle grade book, was the exploration of how it might feel to have an unknown donor parent.
There is plenty of exploration of issues that face the LGBTQ+ community here, and it's truly a wonderful introduction to younger readers that love is love and society should be inclusive to all. Becky and Josh have two mums, and I liked that the book didn't put rose tinted glasses on their relationship, showing that there are still plenty of narrow minded opinions in society and that not everyone will be as accepting as they should be. Becky's own exploration of her own sexuality was also handled very well, although my heart did ache for her as first love can indeed be so cruel.
Josh's journey was what really stood out to me though. As someone who has gone through fertility treatment myself, it always irritates me how people will toss suggestions around of donation etc as if it's really straightforward and simple. I can definitely think of more than a few adults who could do with reading this book, as just a basic introduction to some of the complexities that can arise. Unfortunately our biology is something that we're seemingly drawn to need to know about, and I could totally understand Josh's desperation.
Friendship, religion, internet safety and the importance of communication, there is just so much more to this book than the journey the two siblings go on to discover themselves. I thought it was a lovely read, although I did want to wrap both of them into a big warm hug throughout. I'd will definitely be recommending this one.
As a fan of Sarah Hagger-Holt's previous book (Nothing Ever Happens Here) I knew I wanted to read Proud of Me as soon as possible. Thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to read an e-arc for review.
I don't know where to start! So many positive things to say about this story and the characters within it.
The story is based around a family with two mums and two kids that were conceived using a sperm donor. The plot revolves around secrets, Josh and Becky having one each and then a family 'secret' ... although the family secret isn't exactly a 'secret', more something that just isn't talked about.
The book moves between Becky and Josh's points of view chapter by chapter, which works so well to show how their lives fit together, it reflects on their similarities and differences, the things they share and the things they don't.
Many elements are addressed in the story, from LGBTQ+ rights, religion, friendships, coming out, relationships, being donor-conceived, internet safety, opposition, and hateful views. But, they are all done so, so well!
Through the ups and downs it all comes together to leave you with a full-heart and a lovely rounded ending (my biggest peeve is a poorly finished or rushed ending).
I look forward to purchasing this book for my school library and recommending it to the students, as I have with 'Nothing Ever Happens Here'.
I hope Sarah Hagger-Holt continues to write more books like these for young people!
Proud of me is about ‘almost’ twins Becky and Josh who are donor twins with two mums. Josh is determined to find out more about his donor dad and Becky is navigating feelings for her best friend.
I think this is such a wonderful book for young reader, it really explores the transition of child to teenager and the change in relationships, between friends, parents and siblings. The writing style is super easy to read and uses correct pronouns for characters throughout the book, I love this in writing as I think it really opens a discussion about the importance of not assuming a characters pronouns.
A really lovely read, I particularly loved Becky’s love interest story, without giving any spoilers, some parts of her story really made me feel for her, seeing how she navigated her feelings really interested me.
This book highlights life as part of the LGBTQ community and importantly doesn’t forget that others are not always accepting. We also touch on internet safety and the importance of communication and trust. It really does cover so much for young readers.
If you want a lovely quick read with masses of plot and feeling you need to pick this one up!
Thank you to NetGalley and Usborne Publisher for an ARC e-copy of this book for review.
Becky and Josh liked to be considered twins. They are after all brother and sister, they were also only born days apart but their each of their mothers carried one of them. People are often confused by their family dynamic but nothing could be simpler in the minds of Becky and Josh. They have too mothers, both of whom used a donor to get pregnant, the same donor. So yes Becky and Josh are biologically brother and sister and were born only days apart. Not so complicated,is it.
So why does Josh feel like something is missing from their family?! Why does he feel the need to find his donor dad? Legally he has to wait until he is 18 to find out who his dad is. He doesn't want to wait, he also doesn't want his family to find out that he want's to know his dad. What lengths will Josh go to in order to find his donor dad?
Becky doesn't care about donor dad, she is happy with how life is, her brother and both mothers. Right now Becky has enough to deal with, she is having feelings for her new friend Carli that she has never felt for anyone before. That is scary enough without worrying about Carli's feelings too.
It seems both have things they are trying to keep secret.
It is obvious from the blurb that this book deals with LGBTQ+ themes, but it also deals with a lot more. In a lot of society's it is still frowned upon for gay couples to adopt, have surrogates or use donors. This book shows how those families can form and love each other just as much as any formed by heterosexual couples. My we remember that most society's do not bat an eye at straight couples who do any of the above to have a child.
The book also explores the effects of such a family. While it would be nice to say there are none, that is not how society acts. It is evident to see the treatment the children receive. In both cases Becky and Josh suffer from discrimination though possibly in different ways.
Proud of me also explores friendships, lies, attractions, latch key kids (children who often have to look after their own needs) the dangers of keeping secrets, and much more.
I loved the book for lots of reasons. Like Josh I didn't know my father (different situation) I understood the need to know what he liked and what he was like, just as Josh does. Though I do not like that Josh lied and traveled to meet a stranger I think Hagger-Holt did a good job of showing young readers why this is so dangerous. I hate when writers use this in a plot but never show the consequences. I felt Josh's desperation to know his dad and I understand why he took such risks.
Becky's story was just as interesting. I also felt personally invested in the out come for her. I never felt that I was bored. I wanted to know what the outcome would be with Carli. Though the mothers opinion surprised me I felt Hagger-Holt had done the right thing my having Becky's mother react the way she did. It is not just straight parents that have negative reactions to such news.
The only flaw I could find with the book is at the end. I feel like Becky would not have gone to dinner with Carli's family given that she knew how they felt. I don't think I would got for dinner where I felt unwanted. In fact I almost waited for Carli to tell Becky her family were sending her to a different school. That might not have happened but Carli did not say she was staying in the school. There seemed to be no clear outcome to the event they had planned to stop Carli's parents.
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Sarah Hagger-Holt is an author that has been on my radar ever since I read her debut Nothing Ever Happens Here last year. I adored that book and I’ve been impatiently waiting for Sarah’s next book ever since. So, you can imagine my excitement when I found out about her second release Proud Of Me. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this incredible sounding read, and I was certainly not disappointed.
Proud Of Me follows almost twins Becky and Josh, who have two mums but the same anonymous donor dad. Josh wants to find out more about his donor dad, and despite not legally being able to until he’s eighteen, he will do anything to find out more even if that means lying to those closest to him. Becky, meanwhile, makes friends with the new girl at school, Carli, and soon realises she can’t stop thinking about her. Could these feelings be a sign of feeling something more than friendship? Both Becky and Josh want to make their parents proud, but at the moment they are struggling to accept themselves for who they are.
Well, this was such a beautiful, poignant read that had me feeling all sorts of emotions. The book itself delves into many issues that are faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and some were ones that I’d never seen written in middle grade or young adult fiction before. One is that of a donor parent. I didn’t know much about the world of donor-conceived children before reading Proud Of Me, but after reading this my mind was opened to how hard it can be for the children. Becky and Josh have two mums and what I loved was that we were shown how tough it can be for both the children and parents and that stigma is still out there and not everyone is as accepting as they could be.
Plot-wise, we see the views of both Becky and Josh as they come to terms with who they are and this is very much character-driven as we delve into the issues they are both facing. Becky is coming to terms with her feelings for friend Carli, and wondering if these feelings are more than friendship, and what she should do about them. Josh on the other hand wants to start finding out who is donor dad is and how he can go about that despite being only thirteen. Both plots are interwoven as we follow the siblings on these journeys that despite being different, are the subject of wanting to discover who they are as well as make their parents proud. These issues are dealt with sensitively and will help younger readers who may be going through the same thing in their lives. Sarah has a way of bringing issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, coming out, family issues and oppression to the forefront in a way that’s both compassionate and engaging for the reader.
Becky and Josh despite being almost twins are very different from each other in several ways. Josh is more determined and outspoken and this is shown in the way that he wants to discover who his dad is. He, in a way, feels disjointed from his family, and being the only male in the house could have contributed to this lost feeling. His character, I feel was taken on the bigger journey and come to the end of the story he’s coming to accept and love himself and his family for who they are. Becky goes on a completely different journey to Josh and is struggling to figure out her sexuality and her feelings for her friend. Her journey is a journey of self-discovery and how she deals with that, and if she wants to tell those closest to her. Both Becky and Josh are characters that some young readers will see themselves in, and this, in turn, may help them realise that they aren’t alone in how they are feeling.
Proud Of Me was an incredible, heartfelt read that I couldn’t put down. This book perfectly ties together the themes of LGBTQ+, family, identity and finding your place in the world. Sarah Hagger-Holt has written another piece of stunning middle grade and I, for one, cannot wait to read what she writes next.
𝑃𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑀𝑒 by Sarah Hagger-Holt is an emotional read from the get go. With subjects such as same-sex parenting to children conceived by fertility treatments, it's a story that will both educates you on a subject matter I've rarely seen in YA novels never mind Middle Grade of which age range, 𝑃𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑀𝑒 is aimed at.
The author tells the story of 'almost-twins' Becky and Josh in such a way that it's not overwhelming for the reader and explanations are done in such a matter of fact manner that to me it felt like there was a reminder that having same-sex parents should be as normal in a conversation as the traditional and single parent households. Time as they say, has most definitely moved on and it shouldn't be for want of another word, a taboo.
I can understand to a degree Josh's desire however to take the person he knows was a donor and turn him into 'Dad' because he feels a disconnect from his Mums. He knows and although he accepts his family setup is very different from his friends or rather, boys in school, and wishes to see if the unknown would help him understand himself. Simple things like his desire to be perfectly organised whilst everyone else is a bit messy..plus, he's the only male in the house and he feels 'lost' among the three women.
My heart was in my mouth when he at thirteen goes on his literal journey of attempted discovery without anyone knowing. The parent in me feeling the flutter of panic if I didn't know where my children were or in the case of Josh's Mums, not knowing he is missing in the first place. That chill in your core is hard to lose even if it is just a fictional character because Sarah Hagger-Holt has written her characters and their world so well that you feel immersed and involved in the story of Becky, Josh their friends and family.
Becky goes on her own journey of discovery that whilst (thankfully) not a literal journey across the country is none the less important. Whilst her brother finds himself compelled to learn where he came from, Becky's journey is one of who just a part of who she is now and maybe in the future will be. It's a journey of self-discovery and of first heartbreak (how I wished I could hug her and say it's honestly not as awful as it feels right now) and learning that is also okay to not be okay and to trust both yourself and those around you.
I absolutely loved 𝑃𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑀𝑒 and look forward to more from this author.
Thank you as always to Netgalley and Usborne Publishing for my advanced copy - go get yourself a copy as soon as possible.
Proud of Me is a heart-warming Middle Grade story about discovering who you are. Becky and Josh are twins - well, not quite. They were born 8 days apart to their two mums and share an anonymous donor father. Josh is desperate to find out more about their father and the idea of more family out there in the world is something he is fixated on. Becky isn't interested in finding out about their father, but she is trying to understand her identity. When she develops feelings for the new girl at school, Becky isn't sure who to turn to. With both of them keeping secrets and struggling to know who they really are, Becky and Josh can only agree on one thing: they both want their parents to be proud of them.
I really enjoyed reading Proud of Me, and Becky's and Josh's stories really tugged at my heart. The book ties together themes of identity, LGBTQ and family in a beautiful and moving story. I think this book would be relatable for young LGBTQ kids or donor-conceived/adopted kids, and does a great job of challenging prejudice and presenting a variety of experiences around identity and family.
Wow, what a ground breaking middle grade novel. I really enjoyed Sarah Hagger-Holt’s “Nothing Ever Happens Here” and I was excited to read this.
A family comprising of two mums and two donor-conceived kids who are now at an age when they are also questioning their feelings and their families. Each chapter is written alternatively form the viewpoints of Becky and Josh who at aged 13 and nearly-twins who used to share everything, suddenly find the need to keep secrets form each other and their mums. ‘
So many themes are covered in the story which centres around the new Pride Group that is formed at school which is a safe LGBTQ+ place but those in the group are not exclusively LGBTQ+ which addresses the inclusive-ness of Pride. A very supportive teacher, Ms Bryant, oversees the group and stands up to narrow minded parent. Everyone needs a Ms Bryant at school.
As Josh tries to find out who he was donor-conceived from, and Becky discovers new feelings, the story unfolds to cover many elements including friendship, religion, LGBTQ+, internet safety, coming out, donor-conceived, love, family, negative views and honesty.
I really enjoyed this split narrative middle grade novel about two siblings with very different secrets. The whole story revolves around secrets, including the parents. Josh is obsessed with finding out who his and his "twin" sister's biological father is, but with the man being a sperm donor and Josh being only 13, he can only do so much. Becky is figuring out she's gay and does something rash with her new friend in school. Now she's alienated herself from her new friend, her best friend and is still keeping the secret she's a lesbian from everyone. Lots of young teen emotions and interesting family dynamics with two moms and what that means for the kids. I got a little annoyed with the hyper focus Josh had on figuring out who his donor dad was but I guess that's pretty accurate to what teens go through.
At no point in this book it really caught me, it was rather boring the entire time. The character developments weren't making sense at some points, in my opinion things ended in a happy ending too easily. After the first big conflict and its kind-of solution it weirdly went on, seemingly trying to stretch the book to 300 pages with another conflict that wasn't as heated and didn't really find an actual solution, leaving me a bit confused on what its purpose was.
But given the book is for an age group younger than me, this was a sweet, easy read (especially good for me as english is not my native) and most of the characters were quite likable. Overal, it's a nice read for, let's say, 12 to 13 year olds. If you're older it's probably quite boring.
I like how different layers of "proud" are portrayed in this book and the way how the story ends circles back presenting, after all, what really matters is that they are "normal family" like everyone else and they still have many challenges ahead.
Readers learnt the story by going between two voices which helps the building of the character arc but I was a bit sceptical about Becky. I wish the part explaining her confusion on her sexual orientation. The descriptions in that part were rather vague for me that I felt like she's just confused between love as a friend and love as a romantic partner (those are things that best friends will do together as well!). There are quite a lot of side characters in the book that I wish to see more but they just appear and go rather quickly.
Proud Of Me is the story of almost-twins, Josh and Becky, who live with their mums. Josh is desperate to find out who the donor was for the mums' pregnancies, even though he is not yet old enough. And Becky is starting to have feelings for the new girl in school, Carli.
Josh and becky share narration of the story and, through their eyes, we see the struggles that they go through both at home and at school.
This is an important book to share with older children to give them an insight into lives of other families and representation of LGBTQ+ issues.
An easy to get through, hopeful tale that packs in a few different scenarios that might be faced by LGBTQ+ families.
Mostly enjoyable - I particularly liked reading something from a donor conceived persons POV - but in spite of the issues it's grappling with it all felt a bit too wholesome and safe. Parental response to Becky's storyline didn't feel realistic for me (although I guess the point is to remind us about internalised homophobia) and some of the kids' dialogue felt a bit passé.
Interested in what 13 year olds make of this read.
I really enjoyed this book and flew through it. It discusses different issues for the 2 main characters who are growing up but also dealing with their own identities. Becky is struggling with her feelings towards new girl Carli and Josh is desperate to know more about his father. Will they both be happy with the answers they find?
I would recommend this book to all! I could not put it down. The themes addressed throughout the story are current and relevant. This is a great story, however, I would suggest that it is more suitable for year 6 as the topics addressed are of a more grown up nature.
Fabulous MG story about finding who you are, and who you need in your life - warm, family orientated and very strong message about being your true self and living in the light, not the shadows. Brilliant.