A Boy Named Queen - Sara Cassidy
Evelyn is an only child with a strict routine and an even stricter mother. And yet in her quiet way she notices things. She takes particular notice of this boy named Queen. The way the bullies don’t seem to faze him. The way he seems to live by his own rules. When it turns out that they take the same route home from school, Evelyn and Queen become friends, almost against Evelyn’s better judgment.
When she receives a last-minute invitation to his birthday party, she knows she must somehow persuade her mother to let her go, even if it means ignoring the No Gifts request and shopping for what her mother considers to be an appropriate gift, appropriately wrapped with “boy” wrapping paper. Her visit to Queen’s house opens Evelyn’s eyes to a whole new world. And when it comes time for her to take something to school for Hype and Share, Evelyn suddenly looks at her chosen offering — her mother’s antique cream jug — and sees new and marvelous possibilities.
This is a tiny book with a lot of heart. Cassidy has written in under 100 pages what some novels are unable to do in 300. A Boy Named Queen is a story of gender, a story of expression, and a story of nonconformity on a number of levels. Though it is a powerful book, even in its brevity, I wish it had been longer, and that readers would have more of an opportunity to get to know Queen and his family.
That being said, I really do love this book, and Queen and Evelyn make a fantastic pair in their new and emerging friendship. Even when Evelyn's mother tries to get a gender-conforming gift for Queen's birthday party, Queen defies masculine stereotypes. I've heard people refer to Queen as a gay boy, or even a trans boy, but there is nothing in the book to infer such identities. His nonconformity is a matter of expression of himself, not a matter of conforming to a gay stereotype or a stereotype of femininity. And that is what makes this book so remarkable.
(NOTE: This book comes out August 9, 2016)