Review: Lily and Dunkin

Lily and Dunkin
Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This middle grade novel is about Lilly, a trans girl who is still attending 8th grade as a boy, while trying to figure out how best to express to the world that she’s a girl, and Dunkin, a boy with bipolar disorder who just moved to the neighborhood with his mom after something mysterious occurred with his father. The story is told in alternating POVs.

I really wanted to finish this book and give it 5 stars, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. And it’s really bothering me. In fact, for the past 30 minutes, my mind has been whirling, and I have been interrogating myself, much like this:

Was this a good book: YES

Was it well-written: YES

Did it address important topics: YES

Do I appreciate the diversity: YES

Were the characters interesting: YES

Does the world need more books like this: DOUBLE YES

So I’d recommend this to everyone:
*lectures self*
*reviews previous questions*
*hesitates and lectures self some more*

What? WHY NOT?
*shrugs and cowers*

Is it the (probably unintentional) gender stereotyping: Maybe

Was that hard to swallow: Yeah, sometimes.

Did it bother me how some of the plot points and subplots seemed unnecessary and distracted from the story more than they added to it: Kinda. . . sorta. . . yes, okay.

What about the friendship between the two main characters: It didn’t feel as authentic as I wanted it to.

Whoa! That was quick. Who are you to judge their friendship: Well, I’m nobody….except the reader. So I kind of showed up to judge, in a non-judgey sort of way. . . right?

How about that ending: Acceptable but lacked a certain resolution and stirred up more cans of worms

Um, is that even an appropriate use of an idiom: *rolls eyes*

But really, are any of these issues solid reasons not to love and promote the book: Probably not. . . but maybe? I don’t know! Stop pressuring me!

Okay, fine. Calm down. What’s the real problem here? Are you just hating on middle grade, because you prefer YA: No, that’s not it. I like how middle grade it is.

Are you letting stupid little things take away from your complete enjoyment of this story: Potentially

Are there better stories out there on being transgender and on bipolar disorder: Yes, but maybe not for this age level . . .?!?!?

So should an almost great story be labeled as satisfactory, considering that’s better than no story at all: I want to say yes, because it seems like any representation should be better than no representation. But my heart keeps thudding, may-be-not. May-be-not. May-be-not. . . Po-ten-tially? Per-haps? Pro-ba-bly?

Then what in the world is your problem: I DON’T KNOW.
*holds book at arms length*
*reconsiders for far too long*
*shakes head*
*sighs again*

*Whispers into the void:*
Unmet potential leaves me twitchy.

Conclusion: Any book that leaves me with this much internal struggle is probably worth reading and discussing.

Pages: 352

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