Lily and Dunkin

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by Donna Gephart
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Lily only fits in with her best friend, Dare, and her mom and sister. Her dad doesn’t understand her need to wear dresses and nail polish and go by a girl’s name, he insists on calling her Timothy, the name he gave Lily when she was born. He thinks the best way to protect her is to make her go through life as a boy, even though it feels so wrong. When Lily meets Dunkin, she immediately understands his need for a new name. He wants to shed “Norbert Dorfman”for obvious reasons but also unobvious ones: he and his mother moved to Florida to escape their past and start over. What exactly that past entails is best revealed through the book, but Dunkin takes medication to handle his bipolar disorder, which his father also had. Trying to fit in, Dunkin joins the basketball team even though he’s terrible, just because the bullies play and Dunkin is very tall so they assume he’s great. His grandmother, Bubbie Bernice, whips him into shape so he’s not a total disaster, but when he stops taking his medication so that he’ll have more energy, he spirals out of control. Added on top of this is the story of a tree near the library so special to Lily that she names it Bob (after her supportive grandfather) and spends the night in it to prevent it from being cut down.

I’m pushing this book on friends because I have a lot of questions, especially about Lily and Dunkin’s relationship, so I won’t overanalyze just yet. But on the whole I liked it a lot, and I’m glad to see more and more books about transgender kids, especially that don’t focus on their sexuality. Lily is desperate to start hormone treatments to prevent her from growing facial hair and to grow breasts at this pivotal point in her life. Her bravery in wearing a dress to the dance and going as a mermaid for Halloween, not to mention sitting in the tree all night, are impressive.

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