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Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin…

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

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2381448,487 (3.88)5



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A gorgeous and powerful book. I plan to attempt to talk my teen book club into reading this and, fortunately, I don't think I will have to try very hard. Young people today are much more open and accepting and willing to put themselves out there than my generation. One of my book club members is trans* and I know another young man who is going through much of what the main character did in the book. I thought this book was important enough that I bought a copy for him. Maybe he can talk his parents into reading it. Maybe that will help. Maybe not but regardless, this book has a powerful message that needs to be heard. ( )
  J_Colson | Nov 30, 2017 |
Booklist, November 15, 2012
  K.thoma | Jun 27, 2017 |
Probably not the best book that could be written about a teen trans man, but the only one I've read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The parents' reaction didn't feel quite authentic to me, and the scary part seemed (though not impossible) a little over-the-top, and there were some trivial inconsistencies that distracted me (was the shirt from Target Stones or Ramones? Is Pete one or two years behind Gabe?), and the book covered a *lot* ground in its effort to be a complete primer for the reader with questions.

Otoh, I appreciated that Gabe was more interesting than just another adorable queer teen, and that he doesn't get a clean, all threads tied up, HEA ending. I appreciated that there was just a little sex & alcohol... the seniors in high school aren't naive, but aren't already recovering addicts, either.

Read with access to tunes if you can - the soundtrack is important.
(Otoh, I didn't listen, but then, I already knew much of the music.)

Highly recommended if you're a parent, teacher, or are interested in 'queer' teens - but not if you're not because I don't think it quite transcends to the universal. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
This is the story of Gabe/Liz, a teen born a girl but who feels most comfortable as a boy. Gabe has known this since being a small child from wanting to line up with the boys in school, etc. His best friend Paige does her best to be supportive and understanding, even while coping with her changing feelings for Gabe. His family loves him, does not always understand, but really tries to make Gabe happy. His neighbor John, a music collector and former DJ, gets Gabe involved in the music scene and a gig as a DJ each week where he soon has a following. The Ugly Children Brigade start performing stunts based on his weekly show that capture the essence of the week’s theme. They memorialize them in photos on Facebook. However, all is not perfect and a few bullies take matters into their own hands, creating the crisis in the book. This is a wonderful story of a transsexual teen finding his way. ( )
  Susan.Macura | Nov 26, 2015 |
Gabe is a boy who was born into a girl's body. His family isn't accepting of this fact - the only few people who are include his neighbor, John, who is just as obsessed with music as Gabe is; and Gabe's best friend, Paige. Everyone else seems intent on calling Gabe by his given name, Elizabeth, and treating him like this is just a weird phase. But Gabe lands a gig hosting a radio show on the local public radio station, and this lets him be who he really is - letting his "B side" of Gabe play over the radio waves.

Arrgh, I wanted to like this book so much, and I just couldn't. I was super-excited to read a book with a trans* character as the main character, and even more so that Gabe is FtM. Coupled with the overwhelmingly amazing reviews that this book has received, and I was so incredibly sure that I would love this book.

I did not.

I don't have a problem with the writing, although the chapter titles got annoying fast. The book was rather readable, although to me, it never lost the feel of an "issue book." Gabe never felt like a real character to me.

It also didn't help that I really hated seeing the book through Gabe's eyes. Ugh. I just intensely disliked Gabe as a person. Gabe viewed the teenaged girls in his life as objects of his lust without fail - he was always checking out various girls and commenting about their bodies (even his best friend, Paige). Can I say how much I hate that? Because I so do. I can understand that Gabe is trying to establish some sort of genuine masculine framework here, and maybe that was how he thought women should be treated, but no. Just.freaking.no. Dislike.

Also, the whole "Ugly Children Brigade." Haha. Seriously? Gabe himself says repeatedly that his show sucks - in fact, that is how he answers the phone most of the time while hosting the show. And yet his show, which plays at midnight on the public radio channel, seems to have garnered him a cult following. Ummm...why? None of his "speeches" or rants were particularly inspiring to me, and even as someone who had been a queer youth at one point, I could not see myself doing anything except rolling my eyes and flipping the channel if I had happened upon this radio station. And that was back in the nineties - do kids even listen to the radio anymore? My niece, who is eight, thinks that the "radio" is the same thing as Sirius XM.

And for supposedly knowing so freaking much about music, Gabe seemed to rely completely on John, his neighbor and mentor of sorts, to select nearly all of it for him. John entered Gabe into a contest where the contestants had to pick five summer songs, and John picked them all for Gabe. And John kept suggesting and burning songs for Gabe's radio show. Gabe didn't seem to even know about the music he supposedly loved to host a radio show once a week, much less pursue a career in this field.

I'm bummed that I didn't like the book, but I'm still glad that it is out there. We need more diverse books out there, and I think that trans* characters, when they exist, are regulated into stereotypes or near invisibility. It sucked like hell to feel all alone when I was a teenager, and even though today's teens have more ways to explore and connect with others like them (the internet, for example), I think it is still vital to represent all different types of people in literature, especially books geared toward the young. I'd love to read more books with trans* characters in them. ( )
  schatzi | Feb 20, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0738732516, Paperback)

"This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. I’m Gabe. Welcome to my show."

My birth name is Elizabeth, but I’m a guy. Gabe. My parents think I’ve gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know I’m right. I’ve been a boy my whole life.

When you think about it, I’m like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side—not heard as often, but just as good.

It’s time to let my B side play.

“Every so often a book comes along that is so sharp, so moving, so real, and so good, you want to press it into everyone’s hands and say, Read this! READ THIS!”—Courtney Summers, author of Cracked Up to Be and This is Not a Test

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:47 -0400)

"Gabe has always identified as a boy, but he was born with a girl's body. With his new public access radio show gaining in popularity, Gabe struggles with romance, friendships, and parents--all while trying to come out as transgendered. An audition for a station in Minneapolis looks like his ticket to a better life in the big city. But his entire future is threatened when several violent guys find out Gabe, the popular DJ, is also Elizabeth from school"--… (more)

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