Book Review: Tomorrow Will Be Different

Tomorrow Will Be Different by Sarah McBride

Get ready for a tear-jerker. Sarah McBride came out as transgender to her family and the student body at her college right before her final year of school, in 2012. Fearing rejection and worse, she was met with love and acceptance. She then went on to be the first openly transgender intern at the White House and has had a successful career so far as a progressive activist.

Her memoir, which details her experience coming out as well as her romance and marriage with Andy, a transgender man who sadly passed away from cancer just four days after their wedding, shows that society has come pretty far, but also makes clear that’s there’s a long way to go.

McBride describes her experiences working to get equal rights bills passed in Delaware (her home state) and federally. She shines a light on the ignorance that’s prevalent about transgender people, both among people who are staunchly “against” transgender people and those who try to be allies but still end up doing hurtful things. Case in point: one legislator in Delaware, thinking he was helping to improve the equal rights bill, actually nearly added a provision that would have denied trans people their rights even more.

You’d think that the memoir would add on a sad note — after all, in the year and change since the Obama administration ended, there has been some regression when it comes to equality and a definite decline in empathy from the executive branch. But McBride remains hopeful. The equal rights movement and trans equality movement have a ways to go, but she believes that it can’t be stopped.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review*

Book Review: New Boy

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

*I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.*

Imagine Shakespeare’s Othello. Now imagine Shakespeare’s Othello transformed into an 11-year-old boy named Osei, called “O.”

That’s what New Boy, by Tracy Chevalier, asks you to do. She transfers much of the action and plot of the play “Othello” to a Washington, DC elementary school playground in the early 1970s.

Desdemona becomes Dee, Iago becomes Ian, the rest of the cast turn into their six-grade classmates.

In some ways, it works. You could argue that much of the action of the play Othello is driven by childish behavior, so why not have those characters actually be children?

The jealousy that spurs much of Iago’s actions in the original Othello is there in Ian. But instead of feeling jealous for being passed over for a promotion, like Iago in the play, Ian is a calculating bully decides he can’t bear to have O, the new kid in school, become popular. His MO seems to be to put himself first, at the expense of others.

Much of the rest of the plot unfolds like the play it’s based on, with some changes. Ian manages to convince O, who’s just met Dee that day, that she has affection for another boy (in this case, Caspar, the boyfriend of Blanca), setting the wheels of jealousy and tragedy turning.

The strawberry handkerchief becomes a strawberry printed pencil case. (although, cleverly, a handkerchief does make its way into O’s backpack, seemingly just there as an Easter Egg for Shakespeare fans.) The teachers and students at O’s new school seem to fear him slightly and feel anxious around him because he is black and they are white.

I would say that the race issue feels more heightened in New Boy than it does in the play. There are some downright awkward lines commenting on O’s color from the white characters around him. Issues of identity and what it means to black in 1970s America also crop up.

Given that the novel does primarily involve 11-year-olds, the ending isn’t quite so bloody as the original tragedy. But it is still shocking, especially given the current climate of school shootings and violence on school grounds.