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Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
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Lily and Dunkin

by Donna Gephart

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2871362,219 (4.24)4
"Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you're in the eighth-grade. Norbert Dorfman, nicknamed Dunkin Dorfman, is bipolar and has just moved from the New Jersey town he's called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change"--… (more)

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I found this a little clunky and problem novel-y in places. There aren't that many middle grade-appropriate books about trans kids yet, but they are all starting to sound the same. Each kid speaks about their gender in the same way ("I always knew I was really a girl/boy on the inside"), and they're all about white kids in generic suburbs with fairly generic interests. My genderqueer students don't necessarily speak about gender in that sort of binary -- gender, to much of "Generation Z" (ugh, really, demographers?), has quickly become a fluid spectrum. I'd like to see that more subtlely addressed in a book.

I found Dunkin's story much more compelling than Lily's. His struggles with mental illness felt more specific and touching, and I don't think I've ever read a book about a middle schooler with bipolar disorder. We definitely need more stories that explore that internal landscape. In the author's note, Gephart writes that Dunkin's story came from her personal experiences, whereas Lily's she had to research as an outsider. Not that authors always have to "write what they know," of course, but in this case I think the discrepancy shows.

Note: if you're booktalking this, I think p. 94 would make a fun read-aloud. ( )
  SamMusher | Sep 7, 2019 |
I really enjoyed the alternating narrations from Lily and Dunkin. Dunkin is in a new town and he misses and worries about his dad. Lily is wanting to be who she is, but her fears keep her going to school as Tim. When she is presenting herself as Tim, she meets Dunkin and they start a friendship during the last week before school starts. Then Dunkin starts school and for the first time in his life the popular kids want to be his friend. This means he can't talk to Tim. Tim gets made fun of by the popular kids. But Dunkin soon determines that to stay popular and play basketball he must stop taking all of his medicines because they are just slowing him down. Not taking his meds for bipolar disorder is very dangerous, but he thinks he can handle it.

I liked and cared about the characters. The struggles the kids faced were very real and I thought Dunkin's dilema with wanting to be poplar and wanting to do the right thing were things that people could relate to. A book that will help people have a better understanding of what other people are going through. ( )
  Robinsonstef | Jul 10, 2019 |
Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you're in the eighth-grade. Norbert Dorfman, nicknamed Dunkin Dorfman, is bipolar and has just moved from the New Jersey town he's called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change
  dneirick | May 8, 2019 |
DNF ~70% (in the middle of Lily's version of Halloween). I hated almost everyone in this book: Dunkin is a complete POS (and no, I'm not talking about his decision to go off his meds; rather, he thinks he can snub Lily in school - hang with her tormentors, even - yet be friends with her on the d/l? Fuck you, dude!), while Dare is self-righteous and judgemental in her own way. I never understood why Lily and Dunkin were drawn to each other (Lily especially, given how terribly Dunkin treats her). Also, it's been a long time since I was an eighth grader, but the language seemed laughably juvenile. Assasaurus and moo jokes? Pretty sure kids have a much more colorful vocab - and more refined sense of humor - than that. Oh, and the audiobook narrators seriously rubbed me the wrong way. ( )
  smiteme | Aug 16, 2018 |
I loved the beautiful spirit of this book.
  chronic | Mar 21, 2018 |
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Lily Jo is not my name. Yet.
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