Himes, Elise. The Trans-fer Student. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2014. $9.99. 252p. SC 9781494733445.
Rachael and her family have moved to a new town, and Rachael is now attending a private, all-girls school. Once the rumor begins to circulate that one of the new students is transgender, Rachael knows she has to keep her secret deeply hidden. Rachael is terrified that the witch hunt at her school will end with her burning at the stake.
There have been more young adult books published with transgender characters recently than ever before, but many of the books center around the trans* teen discovering that s/he is trans* or attempting to come out to his/her family. This book takes a different tack, in that Rachael is already out to her family and is attending a new school in stealth mode. Setting aside the idea that her parents would allow her to present as female and attend an all-girls school but would not seek medical advice or put her on hormone blockers or estrogen, the story’s focus on the ridicule and stress of trying to survive high school reads as genuine.
With stock characters that could easily be found in any teen novel or after-school special, this story has a realistic feel, if not a unique one. Readers who enjoy high school drama will find the pace perfect and the personal writing style hints that this book may be at least partially autobiographical. With additional editing and a different title, this book would appeal to many teens who enjoy reading problem novels.
This novel fills a niche that has not yet been filled at a time when diverse books are desperately needed in young adult literature. Recommended for public and school libraries.