"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

18 July 2016


Spangler, Brie. Beast. Knopf BYR, 2016.

Dylan is a self-proclaimed beast. He's taller than anyone else in school, has enough hair on his body to make a wig for a yak, and could probably snap your neck with his bare hands. But he is tired of people seeing him for his size and ignoring his intelligence. After an accident involving a lost football, a roof, and Dylan's leg, Dylan is sent to a therapy group for those who self-harm. There he meets Jamie, who is the most amazing girl he has ever seen. She loves photography, tells it like she sees it, and has recently started attending a new school because she's trans* and she was being bullied at her old school. Dylan is head over heels in love with Jamie until he finds out that she's trans*. Will his father, dead since Dylan was young, send him a sign so he can know what to do about Jamie?

I'll admit, I started reading this book and then couldn't remember why I wanted to read it, and I almost gave up. Dylan, like many teens, is so stuck on himself and his own little universe that I wanted to scream at him. He was not the sympathetic character I was hoping for. Jamie, on the other hand, has a fully defined personality and seems closer to the average sort of teenager who is still stuck on herself but also realizes there is a world around her filled with other people. I did appreciate that this story is more about Dylan coming to terms with his father's death, with his relationship with Jamie, with the reason he was on the roof to begin with, rather than focusing on Jamie discovering that she is trans* and beginning to transition. The Beauty and the Beast parallels aren't as obvious as they have been in other retellings, so I would likely recommend this book as a read-alike for self-harm rather than a fractured fairy tale.

Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: Jamie and Dylan buy a lot of beer (but end up not drinking it); Jamie and Dylan also make out (but don't have sex); when Dylan first realizes that Jamie is trans*, some of the troglodytes at his school have some very transphobic comments about Jamie
Overall Rating: 3/5 stars

Read-Alikes: If I Was Your Girl, Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity, Winger, Cut

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