"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

01 September 2016

The Inside of Out

Thorne, Jenn Marie. The Inside of Out. Dial, 2016.

Daisy is excited when her friend Hannah comes out. Hannah is her best friend, and Daisy wants to be the best ally anyone has ever had. She's ready to join the campus GSA and take on the world, including abolishing the school's rule about not bringing same-sex dates to dances. Things soon spiral out of control, though, and Daisy has to choose between staying in the spotlight and doing what is right.

Wow, this is an odd book. While I applaud the idea of a character like Daisy who wants to be super supportive of her best friend, I had more than a few problems with this story:

1. The GSA isn't really a GSA. They don't allow non-queer students join their group and they're very adamant about this point. In trying to make this a safe space for queer teens, they failed to make it a safe space for allies.

2. Hannah's relationship with Daisy's enemy. Hannah starts dating a girl who used to be Daisy's best friend but then became a bully and teased her. There's no way that Hannah didn't know about this after being such close friends with Daisy, and if she would definitely have taken this into consideration when choosing whom she'd date.

3. Daisy's personality and privilege. Can we just acknowledge that Daisy is the most self-absorbed, over-enthusiastic, flighty, impulsive, privileged person ever? She jumps into projects only to not ever finish them, decides to do things without thinking about the consequences, and she can get away with this because she's white, cisgender, hetero, and has money. Everything is about Daisy, even getting the school to let kids bring their same-sex dates to dances. I wanted to slap her so many times throughout this book.

4. This last one is the biggest, most important problem I had with this book. Daisy wants to join the GSA, finds out that there's no "S," then promptly declares herself to be "asexual" so she can be a part of the group. While I never would insist that anyone "prove" they have any particular label before embracing it, it's painfully obvious that Daisy grabs the only label she thinks she can appropriate and then insists on being part of the group because of it. This does a disservice to people who are genuinely asexual, as there is no exploration in this book of true asexuality, and it certainly goes deeper than Daisy's flippant "Well, I've never really dated anyone, so yeah, that's me!" mentality.

The purpose of books with LGBTQ+ content is to provide windows and mirrors to readers, and this book only provides a window into the life of a flighty privileged white girl. It has offended members of the LGBTQ+ community, and while I can forgive Daisy's flighty nature and sell it as a book for some readers but not myself, I can't in good conscience ignore the appropriation of an identity for the sake of having that identity. With my library's very small collection space, I will not be adding this particular book. I need that room for better options.

Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: mostly Daisy's appropriation of the label "asexual;" other than that, this book is fairly clean
Overall Rating: 2/5 stars

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