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Remixed Classics #5

Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix

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Stonewall Honor recipient and two-time National Book Award Longlist selectee Anna-Marie McLemore weaves an intoxicating tale of glamor and heartbreak in Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix, part of the Remixed Classics series.

New York City, 1922.
Nicolás Caraveo, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Minnesota, has no interest in the city’s glamor. Going to New York is all about establishing himself as a young professional, which could set up his future—and his life as a man—and benefit his family.

Nick rents a small house in West Egg from his 18-year-old cousin, Daisy Fabrega, who lives in fashionable East Egg near her wealthy fiancé, Tom—and Nick is shocked to find that his cousin now goes by Daisy Fay, has erased all signs of her Latina heritage, and now passes seamlessly as white.

Nick’s neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious young man named Jay Gatsby, whose castle-like mansion is the stage for parties so extravagant that they both dazzle and terrify Nick. At one of these parties, Nick learns that the spectacle is all for the benefit of impressing a girl from Jay’s past—Daisy. And he learns something else: Jay is also transgender.

As Nick is pulled deeper into the glittery culture of decadence, he spends more time with Jay, aiming to help his new friend reconnect with his lost love. But Nick's feelings grow more complicated when he finds himself falling hard for Jay's openness, idealism, and unfounded faith in the American Dream.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published September 6, 2022

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About the author

Anna-Marie McLemore

29 books3,062 followers
Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and taught by their family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. They are the author of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, a finalist for the 2016 William C. Morris Debut Award; 2017 Stonewall Honor Book WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature; WILD BEAUTY, a Kirkus Best Book of 2017; and BLANCA & ROJA, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. DARK AND DEEPEST RED, a reimagining of The Red Shoes based on true medieval events, is forthcoming in January 2020.

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5 stars
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565 (37%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 538 reviews
Profile Image for Aiden Thomas.
Author 9 books6,401 followers
June 14, 2022
Tenderly written and achingly romantic, Anna-Marie McLemore has crafted a romance for the ages. Their Latinx lens provides more nuance and depth to the classic story. With a breath of fresh life, SELF-MADE BOYS shows us how queer love has flourished in quiet corners across history.

ETA: WE HAVE A BOOK COVER AND IT'S FREAKING STUNNING AND PERFECT IM SCREAMING
Profile Image for emma.
1,782 reviews42.7k followers
October 22, 2022
one of my favorite books...retold as one of my favorite genres...

this was made for me, obviously.

...OR NOT.

dun dun dun!

whether you like it or not, gatsby (and my original 10-page-long now-deleted-by-the-capitalist-overlords-at-goodreads review of it) are wildly thematically rich.

it's one of the most precise and thoughtful books of all time - that's why it makes such a great high school required read. every light color and word choice can be analyzed. every character is complex and ultimately unredeemable. money and greed and the downfall they cause are crucial.

this book is gatsby without any of that.

in other words, gatsby without anything that makes it good.

the bones of this story weren't built to hold up everything anna-marie mclemore wants it to. to make gatsby and nick and jordan and daisy redeemed characters who care about things makes every theme in the book fall flat. to make a gatsby retelling a story of finding yourself and where you belong just doesn't work.

also...lol @ nick predicting the great depression. ridiculous.

similarly the ending feels silly, if nice.

generally this book nails the language and vibe, and it has a lot of non-gatsby things going for it, and it's often fun.

overall it's a technically skilled retelling, but in the end without its core themes it's as shallow and lovely as one of gatsby's parties.

bottom line: bummer!
Profile Image for Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books).
424 reviews237 followers
September 30, 2022
The Great Gatsby meets A Lady for a Duke. Okay, I hear you think. What does a YA retelling of Gatsby have to do with Alexis Hall’s book?

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. That’s what I wrote multiple times in my review of A Lady for a Duke. And it’s also what that story has in common with Self-Made Boys. Love for a classical romance. Love for queer people. Love that just splashes off the pages.

When I start reading a story and immediately root for the main character, I know it’s good. When I start reading and don’t want to stop, I know it’s excellent. When I start reading and am flabbergasted by the descriptive writing, I know it’s stunning.

I didn’t know what to expect from a Great Gatsby’s remix, but the moment Nick started telling his story, warmth ran through my chest. The tenderness of Nick’s and Jay’s relationship let my heart grow bigger, filling it with love. I could gush over them for hours. Whenever I looked at the flowers in my garden, smiles immediately danced on my face. All those roses, and hyacinths, and daffodils in this book added so much to the romantic atmosphere.

Self-Made Boys embodies an enormous beauty and acceptance, and felt like a warm blanket, hugging and keeping me safe. I believe this book belongs in English classrooms, next to its original. It tackles so many great topics. Just that title alone, Self-Made Boys. Two boys who created themselves and so much more.

I have a confession to make. This is the first book by Anne-Marie McLemore that I’ve ever read. But I’m definitely going to read the other ones because their writing is mesmerizing!

I received an ARC from MacMillan Children’s Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Jonathan.
636 reviews3,080 followers
January 7, 2023
welcome to 202-Queer 🌈✨, the year where i only read queer books and finally find happiness in literature again 🌈✨


fun fact about myself: The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite classics

other fun fact: if you couldn't guess, i'm really fucking queer


this book was everything i wanted it to be. is it the perfect Gatsby retelling and keeping with all the themes from the original book? probably not.

did Jay take Nick to a gay club in this one? yes.

did it make my little gay trans heart really happy? also yes


what literature truly needs is more t4t retellings. thank you to the author for writing this one for me specifically, i really appreciate it


"Gatsby and I may have been nothing to men like Tom Buchanan, but men like that did not know we were as divine as the heavens. We were boys who had created ourselves. We had formed our own bodies, our own lives, from the ribs of the girls we were once assumed to be."
Profile Image for Noah.
143 reviews22 followers
September 30, 2022
I was tempted to just have this review be a series of exclamation points, but I’ll say a little something. I remember my first introduction into queer theory was my high school language arts teacher when he said that Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby was probably gay and even maybe in love with Jay Gatsby. Okay wait, this isn’t a Finding Forrester type heart-warming story, my teacher said this in a “haha gay people” kind of way, as if the possibility of a gay man was a punchline to some bad joke. But the idea of reading classics through a different lens, a different perspective that I could more closely relate to stuck with me.

Honestly, I was a little worried to start this book simply because of the heavier emphasis on romance the story would take. My interpretation of the original Great Gatsby is that despite all the flash and excess of the new decade, connecting with people is becoming impossible. In the original novel, Jay Gatsby’s extravagant and twisted romantic gestures in the form of lavish parties fail to succeed because he isn’t actually interested in Daisy, but a dream he created of her in his mind. The original novel has a rather cynical take on romance as a whole. This book however retools these characters and gives them new layers in order to make a love story feel earned.

If the original Gatsby was about superficiality, then this book is about identity and finding a home in other like-minded people. Very different, but beautiful and important all the same. Thankfully, it’s still stylish and exuberant, but with a tenderness that makes this one of my absolute favorites. I loved this story, and it was silly of me to think I didn’t need it.
Profile Image for theresa.
276 reviews4,267 followers
Want to read
January 30, 2021
please inject this incredibly queer gatsby retelling into my brain IMMEDIATELY

featuring:
- transgender Jay Gatsby
- Nick Carraway in love w/ him like we all knew he was
- Latina lesbian (secretly very angry) socialite Daisy

[x]

I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter
Profile Image for ash ✩‧₊˚.
264 reviews607 followers
August 23, 2022
*3.5 stars*
asdhlhx rtc!

————————————
edit: ahh got an arc!! sometimes i love netgalley <3

OMG THE COVER! THE SETTING! THE REP!
Profile Image for Eva B..
1,086 reviews304 followers
January 1, 2023
Starting 2023 off RIGHT!
I deliberately saved this as my first read of the year since I rang in 2020 by reading The Great Gatsby and thought maybe reading this would result in a year that is not awful. I hope it works, but even if it doesn't, it was an amazing experience. As always, Anna-Marie McLemore's writing is gorgeous and their depiction of the queer experience is tender and full of heart. I have to say my favorite character was Daisy, who captivated me whenever she was on-page. An incredible book that was a joy to read.
Profile Image for Megan Rose.
169 reviews13 followers
August 24, 2022
Everyone needs to read this right now 😭

As soon as I saw the cover for Self-Made Boys, I knew I had to read it. Then, when I heard it was a queer Great Gatsby reimagining, I was so excited! Before I get into the review though, in full transparency, I've never actually read the Great Gatsby. I've definitely heard a lot about it, but since it wasn't required reading for me in high school, I never got around to picking it up. So, for all of you wondering if you need to read the Great Gatsby before this one, I'm happy to report that you don't! I had zero issues following along.

I did, however, go to SparkNotes about halfway through just to compare the two out of curiosity, and I was so impressed with how Anna-Marie McLemore was able to faithfully retell the tale, while also adding their own unique twists and spins to it. The Great Gatsby was clearly the source material, but Self-Made Boys can 100% stand on its own.

If you're wondering whether or not I liked it...I LOVED IT. I've been in a bit of a reading slump lately, but once I started this one, I physically could not stop except to eat and sleep. I read it in two sittings and completely devoured it.

It was so refreshing and just so wonderful to see a historical novel (and a retelling of a classic at that), redone with a queer lens. I've read a few queer historical fiction books, but they usually don't end happily because of the time they're set in. This book did take a couple of liberties, as the author explains in their author note, just so that the characters could fully be who they are, and I loved that. I want to see more of this!!

The cast of characters were incredibly compelling and interesting. I especially loved following Nick's journey. He was so loveably oblivious about everyday life, while simultaneously an absolute genius in other aspects. Though to be fair, I can't say I'd have reacted any differently than he did if I'd been in his shoes. I don't pick up context well and everyone thought they weren't being subtle, but they definitely were!

As for the other characters, at first glance, Jay was an enigma, one Nick desperately wanted to solve. His development was subtle but loud, which I think is a great way to describe Jay. On the outside, he appears so mysterious and confident in his life and parties, but on the inside, he's just like the rest of us, looking for someone he can be himself around and confide in.

Daisy was particularly interesting because this story would not exist without her, and she added so much to the plot, but I also wanted to strangle her at times! She's definitely one of those characters you love to hate. She does do a lot of growing throughout the story though, and I thought it was great to see that journey.

Finally, I loved Jordan's character, and I adored the twist revealed at the end (which I won't get into because of spoilers, but I squealed!! I also called it, which always makes me even more excited). Her friendship with Nick was my favorite of the book. I also loved her attitude!

As for Nick and Jay’s relationship, it can best be described as a slow burn, and I really do love a good slow burn. The two immediately connected, but their bond gradually grew and developed as the book went on. All of their moments together were so sweet and filled with chemistry. From the very first moment they met, I was rooting for them and their relationship. It also made me so happy to see two trans boys finding each in this particular time period. I’ve seen queer relationships in historical fiction before, but I believe this is my first time reading about trans characters in a historical setting. Seeing this perspective is so important. I hope schools will one day require this one after completing their study of the Great Gatsby. So much can be learned from Self-Made Boys, and wow, did it pull on my heartstrings.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the writing style! It was so lyrical, each sentence flowing effortlessly from one to the other. Sometimes writing like this can border on purple prose (which I cannot stand), but this was the perfect mix of expressive writing without going overboard.

There is honestly so much I could still say about this book. I will be so surprised if this doesn’t make it into my top ten favorite reads by the end of the year. It was such a beautiful, heartbreaking, yet uplifting story of diverse characters trying to find their place in the world, while also fitting into what society demands. I cannot recommend Self-Made Boys enough, and I hope you all read it!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Lance.
448 reviews137 followers
September 11, 2022
4.5 stars. Self-Made Boys succeeds as a remix of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic tale: not only does it capture the same longing present in the original text, but makes it even more compelling when told through a QPOC lens.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,892 reviews3,110 followers
August 4, 2022
This wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I ended up liking it. Given McLemore's dreamy writing style, I was expecting something that mirrored the tone and vibe of The Great Gatsby, just making the queer themes more overt and adding trans characters. Instead, Self-Made Boys reads rather like Great Gatsby fanfic, but not necessarily in a bad way.

The prose and vibe feel more straightforward than what we usually see from McLemore. It takes the plot beats from the film (this does feel more aligned with the 2013 adaptation than it does with the original text) and turns it into a queer love story that avoids the "bury your gays" trope and explores intentional white passing as well as the realities of living with a marginalized identity in the 1920's, both as a Latinx person and as a queer person.

The original was quite queer in its undertones but this is much more overt. To the point that some readers might find it abrasive. But if you go into this expecting more Gatsby fanfic and less Gatsby retelling, I think you'll have a better time with it. In this version, Jay Gatsby and Nick (Nicolás Caraveo) literalize the ideal of a "self-made man" as trans teenagers. Daisy is Nick's cousin and is passing as a white woman, engaged to a wealthy and bigoted man. The choices are really interesting and while I wasn't totally sold from the start (partly because it wasn't what I expected), I ended up really liking what McLemore did with the story and appreciated their author's note as well. The audio narration is good and has that kind of 20's vibe to it. I received an advance audio review copy via NetGalley, all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Alex Lakej.
179 reviews11 followers
July 16, 2022
I genuinely have no words to express how much I love this book. I’m so grateful to have been provided an arc of it because now I can scream my love of it from the rooftops.

As a Great Gatsby enthusiast, a firm believer in the fact that Nick and Gatsby were very much in love, a writer, and a trans masc person, I’ve always wanted to write a queer retelling of this story, but now all of my whims (and more) have been satisfied by this book. It was literally like it was taken from my brain and put into a book. I love everything about it and all I want is to permanently etch it on the back of my eyelids.

When I first heard this was gonna be a t4t retelling of one of my favorite classics, I was over the moon and I’m so glad it exceeded my expectations in the way it did. The references to the source material, the changes in character, the development of the story line, they were all amazing and lovely and just the best things ever.

And at the risk of spoiling everything in this book because all I want to do ir infodump about it now, I’ll leave you with this: if you like The Great Gatsby as much as I do, especially if you’re queer, trans, or latine, and ever wonder what if would be like if the story was as queer as humanly possible, please pick up this book when it comes out in September. You won’t regret it.

(oh also they turned Meyer Wolfsheim into the coolest lesbian ever and if that doesn’t get you to read it idk what will)
Profile Image for alannafish.
178 reviews
September 18, 2022
This book has:
- trans main character
- Latino love interest
- lesbian Latina side character
- mlm couple
This book sounds perfect 😭😭

——

THE COVER OMG I CAN’T WAIT SNDJDUSUDB

——

”Back home, such men referred to neighbors whose families had come from Guatemala and Peru as Mexicans without ever bothering to check.”

I would’ve loved to include a happier quote to start off this review, but I was so immersed in this book that I didn’t bookmark much else.

I’ll keep this short so you can read this book for yourself. Self-Made Boys follows Nicolás Caraveo, a trans teen who moves to New York to establish himself as a professional. He meets with his cousin, Daisy, a Latina passing as white, and of course, Jay Gatsby. At a party Jay Gatsby throws, Nick learns that Jay is trans like him. The two become closer, and Nick‘s feelings for Jay become intense and complicated.

I would really, really, love to give more details, but this is one of those books you need to experience for yourself with little information. Given that this is a retelling, those that have read The Great Gatsby already know a lot about the plot and characters.

I would truly recommend this book to anyone. With its connection to history and modern spin, there’s something to like, no matter who you are. So with that, I leave you with one last quote.

”I think we just recognize each other.” He fastened the buttons on the gleaming brown shirt. “Boys like us always know one another about a thousand years before anyone else knows us, don’t we?”
Profile Image for Colby.
102 reviews37 followers
August 5, 2022
Not only is Self-Made Boys the first Anna-Marie McLemore book I've read, it's tied as my favorite retelling of The Great Gatsby. It's unapologetically trans, wonderfully Latinx, and as gorgeously written as its cover is illustrated. Throughout the book, McLemore's characters wrestle with the perceptions of their race, sexuality, and status in New York high society, shining a light on the diverse and marginalized people who went unmentioned in Fitzgerald's classic story. Self-Made Boys shows that queer people and people of color are just as worthy of success and love as their straight, white counterparts and, between this and Nghi Vo's The Chosen and the Beautiful, it couldn't be a better time for queer Great Gatsby retellings. Self-Made Boys will rank up there with the best of them, with an author’s note from McLemore that is one of the most beautiful and affirming I’ve ever read.

Please read this book, and if you're into audio, Avi Roque and Kyla Garcia do an excellent job narrating McLemore's mesmerizing prose.

Thank to NetGalley and Macmillan for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Andy.
2,354 reviews176 followers
October 3, 2022
Thank you to Pride Book Tours and Fierce Reads for my copy in exchange for an honest review and promotion. All opinions are my own.

This was amazing. If you haven’t heard of the Remixed Classics series, listen up! This series takes classics and updates them with diverse characters and authors. You’ll see elements from the stories you love as well as new twists.

The remixed classics feature: A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee, So Many Beginnings by Bethany C. Morrow, Travelers Along the Way by Amina Mae Safi, What Souls Are Made of by Tasha Suri, Self-Made Boys by Anna-Marie McLemore, My Dear Henry by Kalynn Bayron (Out March 2023), and Teach the Torches to Burn by Caleb Roehrig (Out August 2023). I’ve read 4/5 of the remixes that are out and Self-Made Boys and So Many Beginnings are currently tied for my favorite of the series. I’ve enjoyed every installment but these two made me feel feelings 🥺🥺

In this remix, Nick is a Mexican-American trans boy who is trying to repay his family for everything they’ve done for him. When he gets the chance to come to New York and see his beloved cousin, he jumps at it. But Daisy has changed since she’s been gone, all ties to her Latina heritage have been pushed down so Daisy can pass as white. Then Nick meets Gatsby, a rich boy who throws lavish parties and hides from them. Nick can’t help but be swept away by the lives Daisy and Gatsby live.

If I could I would review this book with a string of crying emojis because that’s exactly how I feel after reading this. The Great Gatsby was one of the books I actually enjoyed reading in high school because the characters were so fascinating (minus Tom he’s just an asshole in both books). And this remix takes the characters to a new level. I loved the discussions of identity and seeing how queer culture was still alive and well. I hated the ending of the original, but the ending of this one was PERFECTION. I kind of want a sequel/companion to see what Daisy gets up to next. All in all, I cannot recommend this one enough!!

Rep: Mexican-American gay-questioning trans male MC, biracial Mexican-American lesbian cis female side character, white gay trans male side character, Jewish lesbian cis female side character, biracial Latina sapphic cis female side character, various BIPOC and queer side characters.

CWs: Racism, xenophobia, colorism, transphobia/transmisia, queerphobia/queermisia, sexism and references to soldiers' experiences during and after WWI.
Profile Image for Starr ❇✌❇.
1,106 reviews108 followers
September 4, 2022
I received an ARC from Edelweiss
TW: colorism, historical racism & transphobia, historical sexism, mentions of PTSD
4.5

Nick has come to stay with his cousin Daisy in West Egg, a glamorous place he's free to be himself without any who knew him in the past- only to discover that Daisy is not herself at all. Brought in by a White-passing Daisy to play the role of not cousin, but former maid's son, Nick has found himself a pawn in a place that's prepared to hate him, even without his secret revealed. It's only with the elusive and apparently love lorned Jay Gatsby, revealed to be just the sort of boy Nick himself is, that he feels safe and comfortable. Maybe that's why he pledges himself to the plot of winning Daisy away from her awful Tom, even if Nick wishes himself in Gatsby's arms instead.

I found myself screaming many times throughout this book, because it felt so true. McLemore has a glorious way of writing that I always forget just how deeply I love and how easily I can sink into, but I couldn't have guessed just how accurate they could emulate the story and the writing of a classic. These characters feel so organic, like they were scooped gently off the page of the original book and told to live freely, shape themselves how they see themselves instead of the rigid way of the age. This book is so queer, and so classic, and I wanted to badly to quote it all throughout reading it because it was beautiful and it was real and it was Gatsby.

My main criticism I find myself with when I read works retelling or adapting older stories, is that the author doesn't seem to have really done any analysis. Of course you can write whatever you want and for whatever reason, but I think the best reason to delve into an established work and refit it as your own, is to say something, and a lack of true analysis makes things hollow. I feel so strongly that McLemore knew their take away and exactly what they wanted to say and wanted us to feel reading this book, and it made it even more solid than it would have been with excellent writing aside. That's truly the biggest compliment I can give.

For the reason previously stated, while I was willing to be charmed by the romance between Nick and Gatsby, a romance many if not all queer American high schoolers have already hesitantly or victoriously put their finger on during their own initial read, I was also uncertain how well the romance would actually work- I didn't want characters or arcs based off of the assumptions of having already read the source material. And I had nothing to worry about, because Nick and Gatsby are such a tender, fragile, well written pair here it almost hurt. Nick of the original story always felt a bit more narrator than character to me, but he breathes life and casts a shadow over the page itself here, you are so vividly with him and feeling his heart.

The only thing keeping this from being a complete win for me is personal preference.
I like my stories messier, and I especially think Gatsby, as a generally messy and bittersweet story itself, deserves frayed ends and crossed wires. So the neatness of this book, particularly the ending, just struck me as a bit false.
And while I adored Nick's affections towards Gatsby and their dynamic together, I would have loved to see them as a romantic pair for more than the handful of pages we're given. I felt a bit unsatisfied that I couldn't see how things actually played out with them.

This is an incredibly written queer, Latine story in itself, but also an alarming accurate, carefully done, engaging reimagining of The Great Gatsby.
Profile Image for atlas ♡.
104 reviews108 followers
October 11, 2022
It took me a while to get invested but once I did I finished it super quickly! The relationship was so sweet and tender and I was rooting for them the whole way. Their relationship was described in such a beautiful way I couldn't not love them. Even the use of visual imagery was gorgeous. The Trans and queer rep felt so natural and made me feel so at ease.

The cast was a huge highlight. This mostly queer group was super fun and I liked how each character was well rounded. Nick was a great main character and made it enjoyable to follow his journey. Jay was also very likable. Daisy wasn't as likeable but still added much to the plot. She was a very complex character and I had mixed feeling throughout reading. Jordan was the best! Her friendship with Nick was the cutest.

I'm not often a fan of historical fiction but this was done so well. This story made the setting easy to grasp and made the representation feel authentic to this Era. I definitely want to see more of these types of queer retellings. This is my first book in the Remixing Classics series so I'll definitely have to check out some others.

Overall, I would definitely recommend for anyone who wants a fresh queer take on the Great Gatsby.
Profile Image for Nora.
328 reviews9 followers
October 19, 2022
AAAAAAAA YOU GAVE ME NICK AND GATSBY AND FOR THAT I'M FOREVER THANKFUL
5 STARS.
Also yes lesbian daisy say aye
Profile Image for Trin.
1,720 reviews544 followers
January 10, 2023
Much in the same way I shouldn't have tried drinking the pitcher of iced tea I'd left in the fridge since before Christmas, but I did, I should not have read this book.

I'm all about transformative works; The Great Gatsby, however, is my favorite novel. F. Scott Fitzgerald left enormous shoes to fill, stylistically, and I wouldn't envy anyone the task, but I've enjoyed books by McLemore before, and I do love the idea of a trans, queer, race-bent Gatsby. So I decided to give this a chance.

The opening didn't seem bad! I wish McLemore hadn't aged everyone down to teenagers, but I imagine that was imposed by the publisher and by this being a YA series. (Though why teenagers can read the OG versions of these classics, most of which are about adults, but need the remixes to be about teens is beyond me.) Daisy and Tom are a couple but not married and they don't have a child, so adultery and bad parenting are two sins immediately off the table. Treading into watered-down territory, but okay, fine. I still liked young trans man Nick and his cousin Daisy, who's been fully supportive of his being a boy but disavows him as her relative so she can continue to pass for white. There's some good compensatory tension there! As there is with everything imbued in the double meaning of this novel's title.

But then it got real dumb.

Did The Great Gatsby, one of the most perfect and precise novels ever written, ever need a plot about a missing pearl necklace, or about Nick's work on the stock market, or about -- for fuck's sake -- Daisy and Gatsby planning Daisy a debutante ball? Why were words wasted on all of that, yet Daisy and Jordan were left to

Nick and Gatsby's relationship is also, I'd argue, more nuanced and charged and more freaking romantic in the original than in this book. Fitzgerald didn't even do it on purpose, but because his characters are, even(/especially) when mysterious, so much more complex and complicated, shading naturally fills in around them. Every single character in this book is hideously defanged. Except for Tom, now a CW show villain, everyone secretly has good intentions and is good at heart. And oh boy, when I got to the sequence where McLemore remixes Myrtle Wilson's death and the events that follow, I almost screamed and threw my iPad across the room. They've made this brutal, harrowing climax into such a pathetic nothingburger -- a joke. There's no tension, no emotion, no meaning. McLemore has rendered The Great Gatsby, a book so laden with symbolism it's foisted upon a million ungrateful high school freshman to unpack, meaningless.

This version doesn't have anything to say about America. It doesn't even have anything interesting to say about queer people in the 1920s -- about which a wealth of interesting things could be said! They're all super nice and without significant flaws, though, and if they can trick one guy like he's a bully from a 1980s movie, then everything will be peachy. SNORE.

Uncoupled from Gatsby, there's material here to make a decent queer historical, as these are essentially OCs anyway. But the association only reduces the impact of McLemore's few good ideas. I feel like the best transformative works have something to say about the original text, but aside from the usual vague Daisy apologia -- and one really good idea about Gatsby's backstory that the author later unfortunately undercut -- we're off in what's essentially coffee shop AU territory. I have never been a fan of coffee shop AUs and I don't like this one. Instead of feeling big, bold, brave, queer, it feels cowardly. If the characters are only the most pure and good versions of themselves, who've never done anything worse than pour a bad latte -- well, what's the point? What are you learning and experiencing by reading about them? Don't queer folks deserve a chance to be beautiful jazz age monsters too?

The tea had big blooms of mold in it, by the way. I had to spit it out.
Profile Image for Dilly.
69 reviews143 followers
October 7, 2022
8/2/22: I genuinely don’t have enough words to explain my feelings and my love for this book but it’s a top 5 of the year for sure bc wow.

10/6/22: t4t books are really doing the most this year but this one just edges out the competition.

Anne-Marie McLemore is an expert in weaving stories full of double meanings and affection and love. Every work of theirs I’ve read has a certain glimmer that just makes each book so special. Out of every book of theirs I’ve read, however, this one is by far my favorite. There was a certainty to each and every moment shared between Nicólas and Gatsby, almost a finality as if you didn’t know which moment shared would be the last. The connection between them was instantaneous and the way it was written made me feel as though I was right there, watching Gatsby help Nicólas inside.

The words A-MM uses to describe queerness throughout the book is just so special to me. The word “lacers” instead of “binder” and how the word “gay” is used both for happiness, but also, as it turns out, for queerness. Those are the two things that made me happiest and stuck with me the most, but there are countless others. Anne-Marie McLemore wove history with queer history and created this beautiful book that will forever stick with me.

Each moment I read between these two made me more and more eager to see more of them, together. And each time I thought it was going to happen, but it didn’t, made me more anxious because, again, there was this dreadful feeling that something was about to happen. And that is another thing that A-MM is extremely good at. They interlace drama and mystery and love all throughout their books. It feels like the climax could be at any moment. Beyond that, however, this is, hands down, the BEST Great Gatsby retelling I have ever read.

This year alone, I’ve read three but this tops the charts on all of them. Jay was just the sweetest person, I knew he was someone I could be comfortable with from the get-go. Nicólas sort of reminded me of who I am (Idk if it’s the fact that we’re both trans and brown?) and I instantly felt connected to him because of it. Daisy gave me weird vibes at the beginning, I will admit. As we got to know her, however, things changed. (ALSO when Daisy did the THING, I was OVERJOYED because THAT is the fantastic ending we needed!)

Back to Joe and Gatsby, the love that slowly builds between Nick and Gatsby is just so precious to me. They get to know each other slowly and fall together so perfectly. THIS is how the original story should’ve been written. THIS is what Jay and Gatsby deserved and I’ll forever be grateful to A-MM for writing it.

Profile Image for Masha (onceandfuturebooknerd).
186 reviews19 followers
August 6, 2022
*cue screaming*

Okay, OKAY, I think it's very obvious from my initial reaction that I LOVED this book. So, so, soooo much! So much so that I don't really know how to write this review and make it make sense, but let's start.

Self-Made Boys is The Great Gatsby reimagining of the 21st century - it's the book The Great Gatsby probably could've been were it written today (one can hope). We all know the opulent Jazz Age story about a mysterious Gatsby throwing dazzling parties, his later companion, the timid and kinda-a-wallflower, Nick, the every-"man's"-dream, Daisy and her ethereal beauty, and all the other players in this shining but deadly game of wealth and dreams. Some people love it, some hate it - I personally was always intrigued by it. And then we got this contemporary version (in the date it was released, not the setting since the setting stays the same) of Gatsby by the amazing Anna-Marie McLemore. AND it was EVERYTHING I could've wished for and more. McLemore stayed true to the heart of the story that is The Great Gatsby while infusing it with new mysteries, even more heart, and diversity. It was everything I wanted The Great Gatsby to be (the first one being that hello, NIck is IN LOVE with Jay and that can be spotted from a mile away even in the OG story). Okay, let's really start this review now.

In Self-Made Boys we follow Nicolás Caraveo, a 17yo trans boy who is determined to succeed in NYC and provide for his family - with the help of his cousin Daisy who rents him a house and who lives close by with her rich fiancé, Tom. While things are far from perfect (for example Daisy is pretending to not be Nicolá's cousin so she can continue to pass as white and therefore "desirable", Tom is cheating on Daisy), Nicolás gets caught in the glitter of 20s in NYC when he falls in with his neighbour, the mysterious thrower of lavish parties, Jay Gatsby. Jay's motives are known from the get-go - get Daisy to notice him and fulfill his life-long dream of getting a girl like her and settling down with her. But as Nicolás and Jay grow closer, we learn that there is more to Gatsby's dreams that one can see and that he might be more similar to our protagonist than we initially thought.

As I said before, I LOVED this remixed version of The Great Gatsby SO MUCH! It retained the most basic elements of the original story so it's very obvious where the inspiration came from but then it also veered off course and gave us this original story of two mixed-raced cousins, determined to make it in NYC in the 1920s, when racist slurs where flung at every corner and when being queer had to be a deeply hidden secret or you were faced with violent repercussions. Despite this unwelcoming reality of the 1920s, Macklemore spun a story of Latinx and queer joy, celebrating every aspect of their characters - from their race to their sexuality and gender identity. Because even if the past was far from rosy for so many marginalized groups, the truth is that they ALWAYS existed, that they persevered, and most of all, that they ALWAYS thrived despite the challenges they faced on a daily basis. Self-Made Boys gave me hope, made me feel warm inside, and also showed that POC queer people always existed and deserve to be celebrated and remembered, even if history so often tries to erase them.

I got a bit off course here but I really, really loved this story okay, so it's easy to get carried away. Knowing the story of The Great Gatsby, I thought I knew where this was going and I was scared (we know how very dark The Great Gatsby gets in the end). But GOSH was I wrong! Self-Made Boys served realness while also infusing it with light and hope and I should've known that - despite some tears that I shed because hello, this was a gorgeous story and I cry easily - the final chapters would be just as glorious as the first ones, sticking to the original story while adding new twists (that had me gasping out loud) and new dreams.

Self-Made Boys is a glorious celebration ot The Great Gatsby and queer POC (Latinx trans and gay MC, Latinx SCs, lesbian SCs, gay SCs, trans SCs). Like Anna-Marie McLemore said themselves in the author's note, Nick was always in love with Jay (FIGHT ME on this) - and add to that the authors own experiences as a trans Latinx person making their way in the world that is so often still unwelcoming and learning when to draw the line at fitting in at all costs, and you get a gorgeous, contemporary remix of one of the most beloved classics. Relevant, joyful, and heart-wrenching.

Also, the audiobook narration? PERFECTION! I already know I'll listen to this one again and again.

I highly recommend this beautiful story to anyone who loves The Great Gatsby, who wants to read a diverse and utterly amazing historical fiction novel, to anyone who wants to read a book celebrating queer and POC joy and who loves all-queer casts of characters.

This book was the most glorious surprise of 2022 and I am so glad I got to read it before its official release. The biggest thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for providing the wonderful audiobook of Self-Made Boys.
Profile Image for Kristin Sledge.
322 reviews25 followers
August 15, 2022
Wowzer! What a great remix! 5 stars! Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an AudioARC in exchange for an honest review.

Self Made Boys is, as the title suggests, a remix of The Great Gatsby. Many pieces are tweaked and lead to new outcomes of plot lines, but this story is all the richer for it. Young Nicolas, a trans Latino boy, sets out for New York in hopes of making a name for himself and supporting his family. His cousin, Daisy, and neighbor, Jay Gatsby, help Nick navigate the social scene and help him adapt to life in New York. Of course, hijinx ensue, and not all of our characters may come out alive...

Wow....just.....wow! This story is PHENOMENALLY told by the narrator, Avi Roque. Their voice acting for all the characters is so beautifully done, especially with Daisy and how she speaks as a high class woman. I was blown away and sucked in from the start, and Avi was an exquisite choice for narration. I have listened to other audiobooks that Avi has read, but something about this story....they really sold it to me and I was happy to gobble it up. The characters have so many layers that you just continue to fall for them throughout the book, and by the end are sad to part ways with them.

Five beaming stars for Self Made Boys. Recommended for readers 12+. You'll love this story if you enjoy the classics, love a good mystery, and love stories of self worth and finding yourself. I absolutely adored this story, it's one that shouldn't be missed!
Profile Image for Madigan Likes to Read.
747 reviews60 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
January 31, 2023
DNF. No rating.

I value the trans representation here. And I value the treatment of racism and colorism. It felt like these elements were handled well, with respect and honesty.

Unfortunately though, I found this book unreadable due to the stilted, awkward, and inane dialogue. The audiobook narrator, meanwhile, likely unintentionally, emphasized the clunky nature of the dialogue by reading the book less like a novel and more like a screenplay, and in a kind of monotone.

The writing here reads as very rudimentary, not something I'd expect from an established author. It's a pass for me.
Profile Image for ellis ♫.
54 reviews17 followers
September 8, 2022
As someone who read the Great Gatsby in tenth grade, loved it, and refused to think anything other than the fact that Nick and Gatsby were definitely in love, this book is all I've ever wanted in the form of a hardcover book.

If you've by any chance come in meter proximity of me, you will have known that I have been waiting for this book to come out since March, and had refused to shut up about it for the next six months after my initial discovery of the book (see my spiral into madness after the review).

September came, I ordered it, I got it, and after my hour-long panic of being too afraid to read it in case I didn't like something that I had anticipated for half a year, I finally read it.

And I mean, I don't know what to say other than it's pretty fucking good.

The book has all the familiarity of the Great Gatsby, yet still maintained its own sense of style and purpose. The introduction of plotlines originally not present in the book (such as the mystery of the pearl necklace) blends wonderfully into the original story, and the creative spin put on both the story and certain characters were fantastic to read.

And even though I came for the relationship between Jay and Nick, I slowly found myself getting more and more engrossed with the relationship between Daisy and Nick. Especially with the character of Daisy.

The Daisy Fay who accepted her cousin in a time that no one else would. The Daisy Fay who knew she had to abandon her heritage and her natural skin in order to thrive in a world dominated by the white upper class. The Daisy Fay whose real name was Daisy Fabrega.

And Nick is still the same protagonist we had in the original classic- he's honest, tolerant, and inclined to reserve judgment- but now he is accompanied by a certain level of depth. He's a person of colour. A brown boy.

Although I am not part of the Latinx community, I am still a person of colour, and that helped me understand him as a character so much more thoroughly.

I understood his reaction toward Daisy when she appeared white. I understood his anger and the continuous pushing back of it for the comfort of people who saw him at a party and automatically thought of him as a waiter. I understood what he felt when met with Tom's "You're one of the good ones".

Gone was the man who's tolerant as this was the way he was raised up to be. This Nick is tolerant because he has to be.

Story and characterisation aside- McLemore's writing was great. The writing style was fairly simplistic, yet kept me engaged for hours to the point where I genuinely did not notice the passage of time. The intertwining of letters between chapters brought not only excess context to the story, but also characterisation for the characters. A glimpse into private words that they thought no one else would lay their eyes upon.

HOWEVER, I do have to say that the book was slightly lacklustre.

I know it seems kind of dumb to put this right under a whole five hundred words of me praising the book, but despite it being a great story, it was kindofsortofmaybejustalittlebitunderwhelming.

As I've stated before, I read this for the relationship between Nick and Jay, and while I did get more attached to Daisy and Nick instead, I wish we got more than just a handful of the two as a romantic pairing- especially as they are literally smack dab in the middle of the front cover.

Don't get me wrong, it was still a lovely retelling with its own changes and twists, but I just wish there was more. Everything seemed a little surface level, and it kind of just felt like there was a hole in the book.

But it was still great, and to be honest if I really wanted a relationship-centric story about Nick and Jay I probably should've just gone on ao3.

In conclusion- Wonderful retelling that added its own plotlines and characterisations successfully to a classic. Read this if you read the Great Gatsby in tenth grade and thought Nick and Gatsby were gay as fuck.


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"We were boys who had created ourselves.

We had formed our own bodies, our own lives, from the ribs of the girls were were once assumed to be."



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below is my aforementioned spiral into madness in the six month period before the release of this book :)


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QUEER RETELLING OF THE GREAT GATSBY??? WITH TRANS GATSBY AND NICK????? AND LATINA DAISY????? oh my actual god shove this book into my brain immedaitely pls

May 18th update - it's been two months since I commented my text scramble, and every day that passes without me reading this book pains me to my very core... SEPTEMBER PLEASE COME QUICKER I AM BEGGING YOU

June 13th update - HOLY SHIT THE COVER IS SO BEAUTIFUL AAAAAAAAA I CANT WAIT

July 12th update - watch me invent a time machine for the sole purpose of travelling to september to read this book

August 14th update - ONE MORE MONTH!!! TWENTY TWO MORE DAYS!!!

August 31st update - SIX MORE DAYS!!!!

September 4th update - TWO MORE DAYS!!!!! I have this book pre-ordered on Amazon with publishing day delivery. IF ANYONE IS GONNA GET THEIR HANDS ON THIS BOOK ITS ME

SEPTEMBER 6th update - MY BOOK IS FINALLY HERE AFTER SIX MONTHS OF WAITING
Profile Image for Phoenix (Books with Wings).
362 reviews86 followers
December 17, 2022
I thought this was a really fun twist on The Great Gatsby! There were a lot of the same elements that you can find in the actual book, but it also felt new and unique!

UPDATE: Look at the coverrrrrrrr

This sounds so good!!!
I read The Great Gatsby just a few weeks ago for school and while I didn't enjoy it a lot, we've been looking into a lot of symbolism and deeper meanings and stuff and honestly, I feel like it's a very interesting book. I'm actually enjoying learning about it.
ANYWAYS about THIS book - this just sounds like everything TGG SHOULD be! (by which I mean actually queer instead of just inferred queerness). I cannot WAIT to read how this book goes.
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,652 reviews614 followers
November 5, 2022
Let me preface this by saying an Anna-Marie McLemore book could never be bad. Their writing is always, always so good. Regardless though, this book didn't work for me like I was hoping it would and it didn't live up to my (admittedly high) expectations. I kind of missed the magic, both literally and figuratively, in McLemore's writing. I am familiar with the original story and I loved the changes that were made, but I wasn't emotionally pulled into the story and I didn't feel like I really got to know the characters and care about them. I just felt largely uninterested by the plot. I'm a big fan of McLemore as an author in general, but this wasn't my favourite book by them.
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