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A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity It's the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug's best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cute A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity It's the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug's best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn't particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there's something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug's eerie old house in rural Vermont...and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they're trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light--Bug is transgender.


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A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity It's the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug's best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cute A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity It's the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug's best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn't particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there's something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug's eerie old house in rural Vermont...and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they're trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light--Bug is transgender.

30 review for Too Bright to See

  1. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A great book can inspire a great review but it’s not a one-to-one correlation. Just because I’ve read an amazing book for kids, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be able to string words together that make that fact tangible to anyone else. Many is the time that I’ve sat down to write a really ripping review only to find my fingertips failing over and over again to convey what it was about the book that was so very great. Authors, I have found, are still very kind when this happens. Your review A great book can inspire a great review but it’s not a one-to-one correlation. Just because I’ve read an amazing book for kids, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be able to string words together that make that fact tangible to anyone else. Many is the time that I’ve sat down to write a really ripping review only to find my fingertips failing over and over again to convey what it was about the book that was so very great. Authors, I have found, are still very kind when this happens. Your review might be a mighty font of mediocre and still they’ll tell you that it made them feel good. But other reviewers and members of the general public? They know. They know and you have to walk off realizing that you just completely failed to help place that book in the firmament of great children’s literature where it so richly deserves to be. Well not today, suckers! Today we are going to drill down and get right smack dab into the middle of why Kyle Lukoff’s Too Bright to See is as groundbreaking as it is. Because this isn’t just your average ghost story. When we talk about wanting to see a diverse range of books for kids, this is precisely what we should be thinking of. And yes, there will be oodles of spoilers. Best know that right now. Uncle Roderick is dead to begin with. There is no doubt whatever, about that. Bug and Bug’s mom, who lived with him for many years, are distraught but getting by. Of course, for Bug, things are never actually normal. Their house is haunted (always has been) but that’s par for the course. What's strange is that middle school is looming and Bug’s best friend Moira is determined to get them ready. That means makeovers, nail polish, shopping for clothes, the works! Bug’s not sure what to think about all this, even before the ghosts start acting increasingly strange. First there’s a broken bottle of nail polish. Then the destruction to a bedroom. As things escalate, Bug begins to suspect that this is the work of a brand new ghost. A familiar ghost. A ghost with a very specific message, but only if Bug’s ready to hear it. Once I was on a plane flipping channels and I came across a ghost-related docu-series that appeared to have been strapped for cash in the course of filming. The television show was recounting a typical low-key haunting. Nothing like spooky noises or faces reflected in glass or anything like that. It was just that a woman had taken off her shoes by the front door, walked to the couch, and taken a nap. When she woke up the shoes were neatly tucked under the couch where she slept. Reader, I found this unspeakably terrifying. You can try to pull out all the usual horror techniques, but that simple act of something in your home not being quite right . . . that’s my nightmare. It is for that reason, then, that I highly enjoyed the scares Kyle puts in this book. There’s a kind of poltergeistish sequence that will probably get more attention from the kids, but for me the freakiest moment in the whole darn book is when Bug wakes up and sees everything in the bedroom has been thrown into chaos. Silently. While Bug slept. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to crawl under the covers of MY bed right now, never to return. I’ll spare you a description of the moment when Bug wakes up and opens a sock drawer. Yet horror for horror’s sake rings hollow. You could get a ripping good yarn out of it, but horror is often most interesting when it gloms onto an aspect of society that someone, somewhere finds horrifying. The film Get Out is both a classic body snatcher storyline and a comment on race. Likewise, Too Bright to See takes little moments and makes them both scary and smart. The best of these is what Bug sees when looking in a mirror. Sometimes, we hear, the face in the mirror isn’t Bug’s. It does everything Bug does, perfectly, but it’s not BUG’s face. “It looks like someone’s idea of what I look like, without me behind it.” There are other examples of this, like the dream where Bug feels compelled to keep putting dresses on, even though they’re painful, and cannot seem to stop. Some kids will read, or even reread, this book and see what Lukoff's doing with these moments. And when they do they'll have this fantastic lightbulb moment. The kind of thing an author lives for. There’s a moment at the end of the book where Kyle does something in his Author’s Note that I’ve never really seen before. He admits that if you tell other people precisely what this book is about you “might feel like taking away your friend’s chance to fully experience the story.” There’s an element of surprise about this book and Kyle addresses that. How does one discuss this book with other people, if you want to retain that element of surprise? He might as well be talking to reviewers too. You already read my warning up top that there would be spoilers in this review, so here’s the facts of the matter (which you may already know anyway): This is a trans narrative for kids, couched in language that could make sense to everybody. For example, at one point in the book Bug discovers information about transgender people under Uncle Roderick’s bed. “A lot of the trans people telling their stories talked more about a general feeling of not-rightness. Like people looking at you through a frosted glass window, guessing at what they were seeing.” And Bug, in the course of things, is discovering that he is trans. As this book becomes more and more famous (and it will) we’re going to have people approach it with assumptions of their own. And for them, reading this book will be about hearing about Bug’s journey. Bug, who doesn’t just feel like other people are looking at him through frosted glass. He’s seeing himself that way too, for quite some time. What Lukoff does so well here is zero in on the changing self as self. This is perfectly stated when Bug critiques the “be yourself” advice that kids get. What “self” exactly? Books for kids do this all the time. “But those books never tell you how to figure out what your self is. They assume that you know already, and are pretending to be someone else for a while to fit in.” The book is so good at making Bug’s understanding of self as vague as it feels at that age. There’s a desperate honesty to it. Really, I kept thinking about how well Too Bright to See would pair with Pity Party by Kathleen Lane. Because that’s 2021 in a nutshell: The Year of Global/Bodily/Interior Uncertainty. Both books zero in beautifully on the dichotomy between what kids feel like and what they present. There’s a moment when Bug remembers being around a new kid named Griffin, trying to act “normal”. “Being around Griffin, just for a few minutes, felt like I was practicing how to be a better version of myself. It needs work, but maybe if I practice often enough it will start to feel natural. Maybe it will stop being something I have to practice, and something I’ll just be. Maybe that’s what growing up is like. Practice makes a person.” Don’t ask us, kid. There's a whole slew of adults out there wondering that very same thing. It doesn’t hurt any that the writing’s great. One such moment is when Bug is thinking about the different knots of kids in the cafeteria of the new middle school. “And I imagine myself floating past all of them, always on the outside, no one noticing me, because there’s nothing to notice. Like their groups form a complex molecule, a perfect organism, impenetrable and complete…” Or how about the time when Bug is wearing a dress borrowed from Moira: “It looks good, and makes my stomach hurt … More like I’ve swallowed my bike chain. Greasy and cold, rising up into the back of my throat, making me shudder.” Okay, I’ll stop myself now. But seriously, this is good stuff. Kyle’s a former school librarian so you know he’s read a LOT of middle grade novels over the years. That can actually be a bit of a problem for a writer. I can’t speak for him, but I know that when I write I can sometimes have a hard time separating out different plotlines that I’ve already seen in books for children from the ones I myself want to write. The trick is to incorporate what you know. Take this book. At one point Bug has been given a surprise birthday party by Moira with a bunch of strange girls. It reads, “If this scene happened in a book, the older girls would be a little mean to me. Not outright bullying, but subtly making sure I know that I’m not one of them.” Oh god, it’s not just librarians like us that are tired of that trope. Kids are tired of it too. They are so familiar with the seemingly obligatory passive aggressive bullying scene that I can almost hear them all release a breath they didn’t know they were holding when Kyle wrote this. The girls who are hanging out with Bug? Nice people! Nice decent people. Did you know that they made nice decent people anymore? You wouldn’t if you read the bulk of MG novels out there. This book’s a breath of fresh air. Now I’ll admit that it can be dangerous for an author to admit to the tropes of middle grade literature. Why? Well, why do you think they get used all the time? Easy drama. Take away that drama and what do you have? But the thing about this book is that there is plenty of drama. It just happens to be internal. And if the dang book ends with an understanding principal, nice kids, and a school that has five single-stall restrooms evenly spaced throughout the building, let it! You really can’t critique a book for giving its hero a supportive environment at the end. Anyone who says this ending is “unrealistic” will, in part, be saying that if a trans character doesn’t suffer at the hands of society then something is wrong. And that, my friends, is just stupid. I’m an adult who reads books for children. Many, many books for children. Normally this isn’t a problem but on occasion I have to grab my own kids and use them to figure out if an author is doing something obvious or hidden. At one point in the book, Bug starts receiving messages from Uncle Roderick. The Ouija Board’s words give Bug a hard time, trying to figure them out. Looking at them, I thought it would be incredibly obvious to kids, but I wasn’t sure. So I grabbed the nearest 9-year-old and read the passage to her. To my infinite relief she was not seeing what I was. Not even slightly. It was both a relief and a reminder that when we critique books written for an audience to which we do not belong, we need to be careful about our assumptions. Eleven years ago, trans author Jenny Boylan wrote the middle grade fantasy novel Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror. And at the time we simply didn’t have any middle grade trans narratives, and that book seemed to be edging (slowly) in that direction. But compare that book then to this book now. Back then everything had to be couched in these metaphors so thick you could hardly see through them. Kyle Lukoff? His books are transparent. You see what he’s saying as he’s saying it, even if what he’s saying is couched in mystery at the story’s start. There’s not a wisp of obfuscation about the enterprise. Fans of ghost stories may find themselves disappointed that this book ends in self-discovery rather than a rip-roaring showdown with a furious phantom. They’ll get over it. The publisher sold this book to me as Doll Bones with a trans narrative and maybe that’s the best description you should hope for. Smart. Original. Necessary. Thank god we have this book now. For ages 9-12.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anniek

    This was such a beautiful reading experience. I was expecting more of a creepy type of ghost story but instead it was more about grief after the main character's uncle passes away. This was masterfully combined with the main character working out he's transgender - both storylines are woven together perfectly. It was so refreshing and comforting to read a trans coming out story that just completely lacked transphobia and was so incredibly supportive. This was such a beautiful reading experience. I was expecting more of a creepy type of ghost story but instead it was more about grief after the main character's uncle passes away. This was masterfully combined with the main character working out he's transgender - both storylines are woven together perfectly. It was so refreshing and comforting to read a trans coming out story that just completely lacked transphobia and was so incredibly supportive.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hal Schrieve

    I got a free ARC of this book via NetGalley. I don't know how to begin here, except to say that as I write I'm still happy-ugly-crying from reading the majority of this book all in one go over the course of one evening. I do think that grown-up trans people might have this response a lot more than the kids who this book is intended for. Fair warning for all grown-up trans people. Uncle Roderick just died, and Bug is about to start middle school. Bug, always a bookish, slightly weird, slightly lone I got a free ARC of this book via NetGalley. I don't know how to begin here, except to say that as I write I'm still happy-ugly-crying from reading the majority of this book all in one go over the course of one evening. I do think that grown-up trans people might have this response a lot more than the kids who this book is intended for. Fair warning for all grown-up trans people. Uncle Roderick just died, and Bug is about to start middle school. Bug, always a bookish, slightly weird, slightly lonesome child, loved Uncle Roderick, a gay man and drag queen who acted as an additional parent; now, in the wake of his passing, Bug is faced with the absence not only of Roderick, but of a childhood hiding in the ambiguity of vague tomboyishness. Bug's best friend Moira (formerly known by the tomboyish moniker Mo) feels she and Bug need to be made-over before the start of middle school in fall, and brings makeup and nail polish around constantly to try to fix the issues she sees with both of their vibes. Bug hates this, and also has no other friends. There is something had has never really clicked between Bug and other people. Bug narrates the details of life in the third person: "she went wading in the creek, catching minnows," "she climbed a tree," and imagines constantly that the events of Dickensenian fantasy books are what's happening instead of real life. Sometimes Bug looks in the mirror and Bug's face isn't Bug's face. But that's just how mirrors are, right? Then there's the ghosts. Bug's house is old (it's in Vermont) and it's always had ghosts. Bug feels them in cold spots, in vague hands snatching, and in dreams that once terrified baby Bug, sending baby Bug spinning down the hall into Uncle Roderick's arms. But now there's something else happening. Strange violent pranks seem to be targeting Bug, destroying small things around the house and hurting Moira. Bug knows Uncle Roderick wouldn't want to hurt anyone, but his presence also seems to definitely linger-- strange things point to his spirit still being present, sending Bug down a rabbit hole of combing through Roderick's things and researching ghosts desperately at the library. Bug realizes that if Roderick is still around, he must be trying to tell Bug something. But what? And why did Roderick have all those materials about accepting trans youth in his closet? A note appears, in Roderick's hand, in chicken scratch, but the words aren't words. Bug can't read it. There are more trans kid books now than there used to be, and I appreciate the slow fattening of the meat on the bone, so to speak, but this is the first book I've found that captures and appreciates the haunting hollowness of adolescent dysphoria. I loved ghost books as a kid, and I think the unearthly feeling I had in my own body was part of why. Lukoff's real/unreal magic that is viscerally true to Bug but invisible to others works perfectly and is both chilling and undeniable. There is a beautiful scene where Bug stands in a creek and hears a strange chorus of ghost voices who shout out to him, filling his head with noise, but indecipherable--the chorus thins out until Bug hears a voice that is unmistakably Roderick, shouting, then talking, then whispering comfortingly-- but whose words are not comprehensible. Lukoff pairs the pain of living with a sensation of alienation and distraction one can't identify with one of the other major negative emotions I experience as a queer person: grief for the people who came before you who cannot speak to you in the ways you need, because they're gone. The loss of our queer parents, our caregivers, generations of people we might have been or loved or been loved by, is overwhelming, but it's something that kids feel too. In Lukoff's vision, our loved ones also love us, and they sometimes scream to us when we need to hear truth about the world we live in now. And we can love them, and they know. Bug ends up okay in this; Bug experiences no bullying or cruelty, though there is grief and alienation and misunderstanding and financial precarity. This is as upbeat a book as any you will find, but it's also engaged deeply with the realities of living, and it is an honest and absolutely necessary thing to provide our children with. (And for me and other grown-ups, our baby selves, hidden in us).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    At the end of the story the author requests when you tell someone what this book is about you say, "It's about a kid being haunted by the ghost of their dead uncle into figuring out something important!" It is a slightly scary story, and also a sad story but with a mostly happy ending, and figuring out how to make friends, finding out who you are and letting go of someone you love. Now I am going to tell you my thoughts on this and it is a spoiler if you haven't read the story or don't know what At the end of the story the author requests when you tell someone what this book is about you say, "It's about a kid being haunted by the ghost of their dead uncle into figuring out something important!" It is a slightly scary story, and also a sad story but with a mostly happy ending, and figuring out how to make friends, finding out who you are and letting go of someone you love. Now I am going to tell you my thoughts on this and it is a spoiler if you haven't read the story or don't know what it is about. It is really about figuring out who you are and figuring out how to make friends while starting middle school. In addition this is about Bug who was born a she but figures out he is a him. It is about transgender. It is the story of Bug who goes through this life process. He comes out to his best friend and mom about being a boy. I feel like some kids will be able to relate to the process of figuring yourself out and adapting to new changes, others will not because of the matter of transgender. I felt like it was too easy for him to be accepted by everyone, classmates, mom and school administration. I don't have kids in school anymore so maybe the kids are more adapting and accepting to all the differences. All in all I think it was a very well written story.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jenna (Falling Letters)

    Review originally published 5 May 2021 at Falling Letters. I received a free copy for review via Netgalley. Kyle Lukoff, well known for his picture books about trans kids (including the Stonewall Book Award winning When Aiden Became a Brother ), makes the jump to middle grade with Too Bright to See. He nails the landing of that jump with this story about Bug, a kid working through grief, friendship pains, and gender identity. Trying to picture myself as a teenage girl is like staring at the su Review originally published 5 May 2021 at Falling Letters. I received a free copy for review via Netgalley. Kyle Lukoff, well known for his picture books about trans kids (including the Stonewall Book Award winning When Aiden Became a Brother ), makes the jump to middle grade with Too Bright to See. He nails the landing of that jump with this story about Bug, a kid working through grief, friendship pains, and gender identity. Trying to picture myself as a teenage girl is like staring at the sun, too bright to see, and it hurts. (35%) Too Bright to See starts off pretty dreary. Bug’s uncle, who shone brightly in Bug’s life, has just died young. (First line: “It’s strange living in our old house, now that Uncle Roderick is dead.”) Bug’s relationship with his bff seems to be on the rocks once again. Bug’s unhappiness seems to go deeper than these obvious challenges in his life, but even Bug isn’t totally sure why that is. As the story progresses, we see a kid trying to convince himself he’s a cis girl, a kid who knows what transgender means yet also thinks that it can’t apply to him, a kid whose mixed up jumbled feelings will make you want to give him a big hug. Too Bright to See offers another key narrative to the small canon of middle grade trans coming out stories, a narrative that shows realizing one’s gender identity can be a bumpy, unclear road. For a book coming in under 200 pages, it takes you on an emotional journey: starting as a sad summer story, becoming more heartfelt and heartbreaking as Bug struggles, ending with happy tears and strengthened relationships. A lot of the trans people telling their stories talked more about a general feeling of not-rightness. Like people looking at you through a frosted glass window, guessing at what they were seeing. But that just sounds normal to me. (73%)To be clear, Too Bright to See is not primarily a ghost story. The mostly gentle hauntings function as a guide to help Bug understand his feelings. The ghost’s identity isn’t much of a mystery. (view spoiler)[Roderick might have been able to help Bug figure things out. He does the best he can as a ghost. (hide spoiler)] I do recall a couple of scenes with heightened tension – one where Bug’s home alone and one where Moira’s injured. Originally, I was excited to read this book because I thought it would be a spooky read. Turns out its strengths lie elsewhere. I want to add some quick notes about Moira, Bug’s best friend since they were little. The two clashed when they were young but eventually settled into a comfortable enough friendship. That friendship has become rocky again as Moira pushes forward into femininity and middle school. I appreciated Moira’s depiction as more than ‘bff turned mean girl’ that used to be common in middle grade. Especially after Bug comes out to Moira, she makes some astute observations about why their friendship had been fracturing. As I finished this book, I wondered how I would refer to Bug when booktalking. Lukoff anticipated this thought. He addresses it in an author’s note immediately after the end of the story. I’ve used he/him throughout this review because my audience here is all adults. Lukoff suggests using they/them quickly when talking to someone who hasn’t read the story yet. He notes, “But I also trust you to describe it to someone who hasn’t read it yet, in whatever way feels right to you, so long as you hold the truth of who Bug is in your heart.” The Bottom Line 💭: A slim volume with plenty to offer, Too Bright to See tells a moving story of one kid’s journey to coming out to himself and his community, with a little bit of ghostly assistance! I hope Lukoff receives opportunities to continue publishing middle grade in the future.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Reign_ 1982

    The point of this book was great. But I just feel like it was unnecessarily long. Bug comes out towards the end being transgender. But with all the hints and clues. The reveal should've came out earlier in this book. Great reveal because everyone accepted Bug decision. Even the classmates. But Geesh. I think it would've been more interesting if the reveal had more information for others to understand a little better. Especially younger children. Moira was my favorite character in this book. The point of this book was great. But I just feel like it was unnecessarily long. Bug comes out towards the end being transgender. But with all the hints and clues. The reveal should've came out earlier in this book. Great reveal because everyone accepted Bug decision. Even the classmates. But Geesh. I think it would've been more interesting if the reveal had more information for others to understand a little better. Especially younger children. Moira was my favorite character in this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    kglibrarian (Karin Greenberg)

    This is a heartwarming story about a soon-to-be middle grader who is on a search for identity. Bug's uncle, who had lived with Bug her entire life, has recently died. She is trying to put on a tough face for her single mom, who is grieving and struggling to keep her greeting card business afloat. As Bug spends the summer exploring her old Vermont house for ghosts and pushing herself to hang out with her longtime friend, Moira, she is increasingly uneasy about herself. She knows who she is suppos This is a heartwarming story about a soon-to-be middle grader who is on a search for identity. Bug's uncle, who had lived with Bug her entire life, has recently died. She is trying to put on a tough face for her single mom, who is grieving and struggling to keep her greeting card business afloat. As Bug spends the summer exploring her old Vermont house for ghosts and pushing herself to hang out with her longtime friend, Moira, she is increasingly uneasy about herself. She knows who she is supposed to be, but also has strong feelings that contradict the expectations related to her clothing, appearance, and hobbies. As she continues to reflect on her relationship with her late uncle, she begins to realize that there is something important he is trying to tell her. When she finally figures it out, her entire world is opened up. Lukoff's message is one that is sure to resonate with people of all ages and identities. There are not many coming-of-age stories about trans middle schoolers and this one addresses the issues perfectly, blending the common experience of childhood insecurity with the unique problems that arise when a child identifies with a gender different from the one given at birth. It is a perfect book to help educate young people and create empathy for all people and experiences.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Louise Tripp

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. See that? Started and finished the same day, from yours truly - a self-proclaimed slow reader. But here’s the thing: this book had so many things I love. Haunted houses, unlikely friends, and a pitch perfect queer coming-of-age story. Even better, it has beautiful writing and a complex plot with a refreshingly happy ending. Like, really happy - from all sides. No vicious bullies, no rejecting parental figures, no protagonist hating themselves - just some internal confusion (wrapped in a cool gho See that? Started and finished the same day, from yours truly - a self-proclaimed slow reader. But here’s the thing: this book had so many things I love. Haunted houses, unlikely friends, and a pitch perfect queer coming-of-age story. Even better, it has beautiful writing and a complex plot with a refreshingly happy ending. Like, really happy - from all sides. No vicious bullies, no rejecting parental figures, no protagonist hating themselves - just some internal confusion (wrapped in a cool ghost story), a lightbulb moment and then, support! I cried happy tears!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Shepard (Between-the-Shelves)

    4.5/5 stars This may be a short book, but it packs a punch for sure. Bug is the sweetest main character, trying to solve the mystery behind Uncle Roderick staying behind as a ghost. Not only is this a book about ghosts, it is also a book about grief, about finding your identity, and of course, about the transition to middle school. All of the characters in this were great, and the character arcs were well done. This will be a great book to put in any middle grade readers' hands. 4.5/5 stars This may be a short book, but it packs a punch for sure. Bug is the sweetest main character, trying to solve the mystery behind Uncle Roderick staying behind as a ghost. Not only is this a book about ghosts, it is also a book about grief, about finding your identity, and of course, about the transition to middle school. All of the characters in this were great, and the character arcs were well done. This will be a great book to put in any middle grade readers' hands.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Stoddard

    A fast-paced story about gathering all the clues to discover who we are and how we fit.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karly-Lynne (storybookcook)

    I devoured this beautiful, eerie coming-of-age ghost story that follows a young transboy named Bug over the course of a summer as he navigates grief, changing relationships and his own gender identity. There are moments in the story that are quite spooky and I love how Lukoff uses horror elements to express Bug’s dysphoria. I also really appreciated the book’s nuanced discussion of gender. The book affirms Bug’s gender while challenging gender stereotypes explaining, for example, that not all wo I devoured this beautiful, eerie coming-of-age ghost story that follows a young transboy named Bug over the course of a summer as he navigates grief, changing relationships and his own gender identity. There are moments in the story that are quite spooky and I love how Lukoff uses horror elements to express Bug’s dysphoria. I also really appreciated the book’s nuanced discussion of gender. The book affirms Bug’s gender while challenging gender stereotypes explaining, for example, that not all women like make-up while some men do (like Uncle Roderick who performed as a drag queen). It is not Bug’s interests or clothes that make him a boy but rather it is how he feels, showing that gender identity and expression are not the same thing. I highly recommend this book!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    I wanted to LOVE this book. I'd read several reviews about it, and my favorite librarian Betsy Bird gave it a glowing write-up recently, and of course I want to support fellow librarian Kyle Lukoff on his MG book. But I didn't LOVE it. I liked it fine. I liked the way Kyle wove together the ghost story and Bug's story, and the lovely way Bug figured out things about who they were. But the writing was clunky to me. I didn't come upon any sentences that wowed me, sentences that made me highlight th I wanted to LOVE this book. I'd read several reviews about it, and my favorite librarian Betsy Bird gave it a glowing write-up recently, and of course I want to support fellow librarian Kyle Lukoff on his MG book. But I didn't LOVE it. I liked it fine. I liked the way Kyle wove together the ghost story and Bug's story, and the lovely way Bug figured out things about who they were. But the writing was clunky to me. I didn't come upon any sentences that wowed me, sentences that made me highlight them in my Kindle so I could go back and reread them. And that made me sad, really. I did highlight a couple of paragraphs where the sentences just didn't flow at all, but because I was reading an e-arc, they won't appear here. I just wanted to fall in love with the writing, and I didn't.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Bug has always lived with their mom and uncle in an old, haunted house in the woods, but it feels more haunted than ever when Uncle Rodrick dies. It feels like he is trying to tell Bug something, but what? Middle school starts in a couple of months, and Bug's friend Moira is all too eager to jump into the "girl" world of makeup and boys, but Bug isn't so good at acting like a girl, wondering if their friendship can still last. Too Bright to See is such a heartwarming and bittersweet novel, both Bug has always lived with their mom and uncle in an old, haunted house in the woods, but it feels more haunted than ever when Uncle Rodrick dies. It feels like he is trying to tell Bug something, but what? Middle school starts in a couple of months, and Bug's friend Moira is all too eager to jump into the "girl" world of makeup and boys, but Bug isn't so good at acting like a girl, wondering if their friendship can still last. Too Bright to See is such a heartwarming and bittersweet novel, both lyrical and to the point. Lukoff captures grief and pre-teen growing pains in such a realistic but ultimately healing way. I needed this book as a kid, and even reading it now as an adult has moved and mended me during my time with it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kiley Young

    Bug’s house in rural Vermont has always been haunted: there are cold spots, inexplicable chills, and sometimes when Bug looks in the mirror, there’s something about the face looking back that just seems...off. When Uncle Roderick dies, the paranormal activity increases, and the hauntings seem to be targeting Bug specifically. To make everything worse, Bug’s best friend Moirah has made it her mission to help both of them reinvent themselves before middle school. For Moirah, this means embracing a Bug’s house in rural Vermont has always been haunted: there are cold spots, inexplicable chills, and sometimes when Bug looks in the mirror, there’s something about the face looking back that just seems...off. When Uncle Roderick dies, the paranormal activity increases, and the hauntings seem to be targeting Bug specifically. To make everything worse, Bug’s best friend Moirah has made it her mission to help both of them reinvent themselves before middle school. For Moirah, this means embracing all things girly, and sleepovers with her devolve into makeovers and talking about boys. Being girly feels like so much effort to Bug, and Bug feels like Moirah is slipping away. To say I loved this book would be an understatement. Parents of middle grade readers, parents in general, educators, and humans (so basically, everyone I know) should pick this one up. There are middle grade novels that are clearly written just for a middle grade audience, and then there are middle grade novels with universal appeal. This is definitely one of the latter, and I think this book will resonate with readers of any age who have ever felt other, whether they share experiences with Bug or not. As an adult reader, I got a kick out of references to things from my childhood, like American Girl dolls, The Babysitter’s Club, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Too Bright to See is a phenomenal exploration of grief, loss, growing up, friendship, (view spoiler)[gender identity, and gender expression. (hide spoiler)] Bug’s experience with (view spoiler)[gender dysphoria (hide spoiler)] is subtle, heart wrenching, and plays with the idea of the things that haunt us internally vs. the supernatural things that haunt us. (view spoiler)[Often, the narratives that we’re presented about transgender characters are about characters who have always intrinsically known their true gender identity. Bug doesn’t know that he’s transgender until he knows, and that realization makes all of the other pieces fall into place. I am thrilled to see this book continuing a trend that I’m beginning to see in Middle Grade fiction. While there is conflict in the book, ZERO PERCENT of it is about Bug’s coming out as transgender. Bug’s Uncle is encouraging (from beyond the grave). Bug’s mother is joyful and a fantastic advocate with the school. The school is supportive and already has protocols in place to support and protect Bug. Bug’s friends don’t question it. There is no bullying. This is what we need to model for our young people. I’ll link to #ownvoices reviews of this one as they pop up. Representation: Transgender protagonist, gay side character(s), positive depiction of drag culture Content warnings: Death of a parent, death of a quasi-parental figure, gender dysphoria, subtle pressure related to gender role conformity (hide spoiler)] Big thanks to Edelweiss and Dial Books for providing me with an advance copy for review. All opinions are my own. Too Bright to See is available to pre-order now, and available in stores tomorrow, 4/20/21.

  16. 4 out of 5

    michelle

    * Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Young Readers for a digital review copy of this book. All opinions are my own. This book feels like two separate books merged together, one that moved me deeply and one that left me feeling a bit meh. That said, the part that moved me overshadows anything else. It is the summer before middle school, and 12 year old "Bug" has just lost her uncle, who played a very big part in her life and lived with her and her mother. The first half of the book focuses on how * Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Young Readers for a digital review copy of this book. All opinions are my own. This book feels like two separate books merged together, one that moved me deeply and one that left me feeling a bit meh. That said, the part that moved me overshadows anything else. It is the summer before middle school, and 12 year old "Bug" has just lost her uncle, who played a very big part in her life and lived with her and her mother. The first half of the book focuses on how Bug struggles with Roderick's death especially in a house that is "haunted", doesn't want to learn to wear makeup and consider which boys are the cutest in school, but also doesn't want to lose her best friend. Bug's uncle seems to be trying to tell her something and Bug has to step outside of her normal comfort zone to figure it out. I'm not spoiling anything, as this is in the summary of the book, but the second half of the book deals with Bug's realization that they are transgendered. This is the part of the book that moved me deeply and that is told so amazingly well. The kids that need this book will easily make it through the first half to get to the pages where Bug learns to listen to that inner voice and to look in the mirror and see themselves as they truly are. Bug is so lucky to be a part of a family that loves no matter what and part of a community that is open-minded. But Too Bright To See isn't just for the kid questioning their identity. It is for anyone who might have a friend who is questioning their identity, which means everyone. Bug has to discover that all of those times feeling not quite comfortable in their own skin were because they were trying to be something they were not. I can't begin to say I comprehend what someone who is transgendered goes through, but Kyle Lukoff really does a great job trying to put it into words that many can understand. An important book because you never know who needs it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Casey Jo

    This book is AMAZING.  The tag line? YES! All of this "be yourself"ness is great, but like, who *is* that? I connect with this book so deeply. Ghost stories aren't usually my thing, but that's because the ghosts are so often meant to be scary, or some sort of penance. Or if they're good ghosts, they represent some afterlife that I'm supposed to feel comforted by. This is just an "OK, in this world, there are ghosts." No different from "this world has magic" or aliens or whatever. I love it. Some t This book is AMAZING.  The tag line? YES! All of this "be yourself"ness is great, but like, who *is* that? I connect with this book so deeply. Ghost stories aren't usually my thing, but that's because the ghosts are so often meant to be scary, or some sort of penance. Or if they're good ghosts, they represent some afterlife that I'm supposed to feel comforted by. This is just an "OK, in this world, there are ghosts." No different from "this world has magic" or aliens or whatever. I love it. Some things I love: (view spoiler)[p. 5: NAILS my response to my reaction when my grandfather died: "There's sadness, but it's whirling around outside of me. Like a hurricane of grief, and I'm the dry, unmoving eye." p. 62: Trying to picture myself as a teenage girl is like staring at the sun, too bright to see, and it hurts".  No, what hurts is how good of a writer Lukoff is. p. 117: "But those books never tell you how to figure out what your self is. They assume that you know already, and are pretending to be someone else for a while to fit in." This book is fucking me up in the best of ways. Lukoff really raised the bar for MG trans rep. p. 136: "But trans people are their genders. I just ... want. Something. Which is different." This line is subtle genius for trans kids to encounter. p. 154: If you're going to have a hurricane on stage in Act I, it needs to go off in Act II.p. 172: Five single-stall restrooms evenly spaced throughout the building. I would 100% make out with this detail. p. 177: "I haven't really imagined myself from the outside since coming out as trans." Get out of my head, Lukoff! I used to refer to myself in the third person in high school. I stopped doing it in college once I started questioning my pronouns. Author's Note: LOVE!!! I can completely hear you reading it. (hide spoiler)]

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Freedman

    Bug is having a rough summer. Her beloved uncle just died, her mom is in trouble financially, she's starting middle school in the fall, and her house is haunted. Middle school is the worst for kids who are different, but perhaps buoyed by Uncle Roderick, Bug seems to have a good sense of self and clarity about who she is and how she wants to be. She's not into the girly stuff her best friend Moira likes. As it turns out, neither is the ghost, or poltergeist, or...Uncle Roderick? Regardless, when Bug is having a rough summer. Her beloved uncle just died, her mom is in trouble financially, she's starting middle school in the fall, and her house is haunted. Middle school is the worst for kids who are different, but perhaps buoyed by Uncle Roderick, Bug seems to have a good sense of self and clarity about who she is and how she wants to be. She's not into the girly stuff her best friend Moira likes. As it turns out, neither is the ghost, or poltergeist, or...Uncle Roderick? Regardless, when (view spoiler)[ Bug finally figures out what the haunting is all about and understands that he's a boy, it's less scary than he expected. Moira is chill about it She rolls her eyes. "I mean, it's not really something I get to be 'okay with' right? It's just, like, who you are." I love this relatable revelation from Bug, once he's onto himself.And all of a sudden I understand why people like shopping. I mean, don't love it. I'd still rather read, or ride my bike. But now that Moira is helping me pick from the boys' section instead of the girls', it's actually fun. (hide spoiler)] Too Bright to See is cool because it's an issue novel hidden inside a mystery. It also has takes that feel entirely appropriate to a kid who likes to read and has a rich inner life. Bug dissociates, narrating life in the third person, until the reveal toward the end. It's a gentle story, despite being about a big topic, or at least a topic that seems big to people born in the 20th century. I hope most Zoomers are as cool as Bug's cohort. Disclosure: I am friendquaintances with the author, who I like and admire perhaps to excess. Thanks: Edelweiss for the ARC

  19. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Eleven-year-old Bug has never felt particularly comfortable in their skin. As the book opens, Bug is dealing with the loss of Uncle Roderick, who was gay and a drag queen when the family lived in Brooklyn. But after the death of Bug's father, the family moved to rural Vermont. Bug has grown accustomed to the spirits that move throughout the house, but after Uncle Roderick's death, it becomes increasingly clear that his spirit or ghost is trying to give a message to Bug. It takes Bug quite some t Eleven-year-old Bug has never felt particularly comfortable in their skin. As the book opens, Bug is dealing with the loss of Uncle Roderick, who was gay and a drag queen when the family lived in Brooklyn. But after the death of Bug's father, the family moved to rural Vermont. Bug has grown accustomed to the spirits that move throughout the house, but after Uncle Roderick's death, it becomes increasingly clear that his spirit or ghost is trying to give a message to Bug. It takes Bug quite some time to figure out what that message is and why Uncle Roderick's ghost wants to be heard. Bug is also dealing with pressure from Moira, a long-time friend, to dress in a more "feminine" style now that the youngsters will be entering middle school and to be receptive to a makeover. But something essential in Bug resists these changes and feels as though they are wrong. Gently, carefully, and with great empathy, this moving story of learning to embrace oneself and what that entails unfolds, and readers will never be the same. It's worth noting that the first book with a trans character that I ever read was Luna by Julie Ann Peters back in 2004. How far we've come since this! While it is true that Bug's classmates, friends and family--especially the classmates--are more supportive than might be expected, this middle grade novel is well worth reading. Mixing the supernatural elements with the reality of Bug's everyday life worked quite well here, and the writing is engaging in every respect. Clearly, the author's fondness for Bug and others like her comes through on the pages of this important book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Aud

    This was such a short book, but it had so much in it. The pacing was perfect, too - it wasn't overfull, the words were chosen with care, and it was so atmospheric. And that atmosphere, for the most part, was melancholy mixed with the occasional shock or creepiness. I never felt afraid for Bug's safety (except the one scene where everything was flying around), but the ghost plot, especially the mirrors, really did it for me in a way that middle grade horror sometimes misses. This didn't feel like This was such a short book, but it had so much in it. The pacing was perfect, too - it wasn't overfull, the words were chosen with care, and it was so atmospheric. And that atmosphere, for the most part, was melancholy mixed with the occasional shock or creepiness. I never felt afraid for Bug's safety (except the one scene where everything was flying around), but the ghost plot, especially the mirrors, really did it for me in a way that middle grade horror sometimes misses. This didn't feel like a rehashing of an already-done story. This felt new, and very well done. The story focuses on Bug, but the characters around Bug are clearly doing their own things and going through their own lives, which I always appreciate. It makes the world feel more full and, to me, more authentic. I liked the examination of Bug and Moira's friendship, how those paths don't always run smooth, how sometimes we have to make an active choice about whether we're friends with people or not, and that being a good friend isn't always easy but is generally worth it in the end. As for endings, I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't. I'll just say that I loved it. I loved everything about it. I even love that I believe it, I really do think it's possible, depending on where someone lives, for things to shake out like that, and I think kids deserve to see endings like that in their books. It's early in the year for me to be saying this, because I haven't read THAT many of this year's releases yet, but I would like this book to win something come award season.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jenni Frencham

    Bug's family lives in a haunted house, or at least Bug and Uncle Roderick think so. Sadly, Uncle Roderick dies, leaving Bug and Mom alone in the haunted house. While Bug's friend Moira is convinced they need to reinvent themselves before starting middle school, Bug is distracted by haunted happenings that are becoming more frequent and more pointed. Is Uncle Roderick sending Bug a message? This book is beautiful and haunting. At points I was legitimately startled by the spooky happenings; at othe Bug's family lives in a haunted house, or at least Bug and Uncle Roderick think so. Sadly, Uncle Roderick dies, leaving Bug and Mom alone in the haunted house. While Bug's friend Moira is convinced they need to reinvent themselves before starting middle school, Bug is distracted by haunted happenings that are becoming more frequent and more pointed. Is Uncle Roderick sending Bug a message? This book is beautiful and haunting. At points I was legitimately startled by the spooky happenings; at other points I cried happy tears for Bug. I was so glad for the way Bug's friends accepted, respected, and celebrated Bug and Bug's evolving gender identity. I want Bug's mom to adopt me and my trans spouse, who was told "Even boys can wear makeup and flashy clothing" when he came out (no, I still don't know what my mother in law meant by that). As a former seventh grade teacher, I appreciated that Bug and Moira both are trying to figure out who they are, and I loved how they supported each other even though they don't necessarily have a ton in common. Bug's coming out experience is fantastic and positive, and although I am sure there are plenty of places where Bug's coming out would have happened much differently, it's absolutely okay to portray it positively because everyone deserves a happy ending. Recommended for: middle grade and tween readers; this is a great "I'm nervous to be starting middle school" book; also great for readers who enjoy realistic stories with supernatural elements or books that are just a little bit spooky

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ryan // Vale

    I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. "The weeks stretch out in front of me, slow and hot, the finish line shimmering like a mirage. I don't know who I'll be when I cross over." This heart-breaking and beautiful middle grade novel follows 11 year old Bug as they prepare to start middle school, grieve for their beloved uncle, and try to figure out who they are. This story explores grief in a heartfelt and honest way. Specifically the grief for a death that was not sudden b I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. "The weeks stretch out in front of me, slow and hot, the finish line shimmering like a mirage. I don't know who I'll be when I cross over." This heart-breaking and beautiful middle grade novel follows 11 year old Bug as they prepare to start middle school, grieve for their beloved uncle, and try to figure out who they are. This story explores grief in a heartfelt and honest way. Specifically the grief for a death that was not sudden but expected and no less heart-breaking for it. It begins shortly after the death of Bug's uncle who was a parental figure in their life. We see how Bug deals with, and doesn't deal with their grief, throughout the beginning of the book. It discusses feeling like you don't fit in and aren't able to be a proper "girl" in a way that seems to come easily to most of your peers - a feeling that was very familiar to me as a transgender man. It also features a trans character who didn't always know which is a common narrative that doesn't apply to many of us. Bug doesn't always know but when they figure out who they are everything else makes sense in hindsight. Overall I felt this was an honest and heartful look at both grief and transgender identity that felt true to life and was beautifully written. I'd highly recommend it to children and adults alike. Content warnings: grief, death, terminal illness, mentions of bullying, unintentional misgendering

  23. 4 out of 5

    Read in the

    This fast middle grade read will be a breakthrough novel. I haven't read anything that's so necessary for kids and adults in this country right now. The story of Bug and his slow journey into self-awareness and acceptance is a must add to classroom libraries. It is challenging to provide a review without giving away the beautiful story and journey, which the reader really must experience for themselves. The angst and discomfort Bug feels in his own body at the beginning is tangible. You will feel This fast middle grade read will be a breakthrough novel. I haven't read anything that's so necessary for kids and adults in this country right now. The story of Bug and his slow journey into self-awareness and acceptance is a must add to classroom libraries. It is challenging to provide a review without giving away the beautiful story and journey, which the reader really must experience for themselves. The angst and discomfort Bug feels in his own body at the beginning is tangible. You will feel uncomfortable in your own skin purely by reading his inner thoughts. You can see his destination before he can, and will be cheering and pushing him into the right direction. The death of beloved Uncle Roderick at the beginning of the book provides a secondary character that we don't actually get to meet. Roddy has been a father figure to Bug his whole life. This continues after his death as the ghost and haunting of his uncle helps Bug to his ultimate realization. I'll admit that, although an interesting way to help a character along, the ghosts and hauntings were not my cup of tea. I feel that this story would have been interesting, emotional and moving without the distraction of a paranormal element. It may be beneficial to getting middle grade readers to pick up this book and delve into it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Loved this! The complicated relationship Bug has with Moira is fantastic, especially since it would have been so easy to let it fall into a well-worn path of "well, we're getting older and growing apart" type of relationship drama that is so common for middle school protagonists (and with good reason, since it's common at that age.) I thought it was great that Moira was so accepting of Bug, but then moments after that they got into an argument that was a long time coming. People are complicated. Loved this! The complicated relationship Bug has with Moira is fantastic, especially since it would have been so easy to let it fall into a well-worn path of "well, we're getting older and growing apart" type of relationship drama that is so common for middle school protagonists (and with good reason, since it's common at that age.) I thought it was great that Moira was so accepting of Bug, but then moments after that they got into an argument that was a long time coming. People are complicated. I also thought the author did an excellent job showing how anxious Bug was about coming out, even when he had every reason to think it wouldn't be a problem, and the way the author used the pamphlets and stories to recognize that not everyone gets the full acceptance from family and friends - while at the same time giving Bug full and unconditional acceptance. The book also fills a much needed gap in middle grade transgender stories (and twenty years ago who would have thought that there'd be enough such books to even consider such a thing!) of a story in which the protagonist starts the book not fully aware of his needs or wants, just feeling itchy and wrong all the time.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alexa Hamilton

    It's a ghost story, or at least, it's a story full of ghosts. And also death and grieving and figuring out friendships as you get to middle school. Bug is missing her Uncle Roderick who died after an illness. He lived with her and her mother in the middle of nowhere Vermont. Bug doesn't have a lot of friends, and as anticipated, Bug's friend Mo has decided to go by Moira and start using make up and nail polish. That friendship doesn't go exactly the way you would think. Bug gets a chance to make It's a ghost story, or at least, it's a story full of ghosts. And also death and grieving and figuring out friendships as you get to middle school. Bug is missing her Uncle Roderick who died after an illness. He lived with her and her mother in the middle of nowhere Vermont. Bug doesn't have a lot of friends, and as anticipated, Bug's friend Mo has decided to go by Moira and start using make up and nail polish. That friendship doesn't go exactly the way you would think. Bug gets a chance to make a new friend at the library, bonding over ghosts and ghost books which is perfect. I loved how we got to hear about Bug's feelings as they are discovered and as Bug tries to come to grips with them. The ending didn't entirely surprise me, it gave the whole book a feeling of magical realism featuring ghosts.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Too Bright to See is a welcome addition to the slowly-growing world of MG books about transgender kids. This #ownvoices story feels so authentic and well-written--some kids are really going to see themselves here. At times I found myself a bit distracted by all the comma splices; not sure if those were intentional or typos that slipped through. Still, my strongest feeling when I recall this book is all the love that so clearly went into it. I loved the author's note Lukoff included that discusse Too Bright to See is a welcome addition to the slowly-growing world of MG books about transgender kids. This #ownvoices story feels so authentic and well-written--some kids are really going to see themselves here. At times I found myself a bit distracted by all the comma splices; not sure if those were intentional or typos that slipped through. Still, my strongest feeling when I recall this book is all the love that so clearly went into it. I loved the author's note Lukoff included that discusses what pronouns to use to refer to MC Bug when discussing the book with people who haven't read it yet, with his ultimate conclusion being that he trusts young readers to make a considerate decision! And this is a little thing, but the author bio concludes with, "He... hopes you're having a nice day." So sweet! Anyway, highly recommended!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Animated bookstagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CPrBrugDs... This beguiling story reinforces why I’m so completely enamored with middle grade literature. It’s hard to express my admiration for Kyle Lukoff’s affecting coming of age gem, TOO BRIGHT TO SEE, without giving anything away—it was an experience to put it simply. I encountered chills, tears, and a warmth in my heart and soul reading Bug’s words. All six starred (absolutely glowing) reviews got it right—this masterpiece is hauntingly bea Animated bookstagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CPrBrugDs... This beguiling story reinforces why I’m so completely enamored with middle grade literature. It’s hard to express my admiration for Kyle Lukoff’s affecting coming of age gem, TOO BRIGHT TO SEE, without giving anything away—it was an experience to put it simply. I encountered chills, tears, and a warmth in my heart and soul reading Bug’s words. All six starred (absolutely glowing) reviews got it right—this masterpiece is hauntingly beautiful. The ghost story within served so many purposes in Bug’s summer before middle school of experiment, exploration, and realizations. I adored each character in the 186 curious and captivating pages including the old, haunted Vermont house. I’m so glad to have met the thoughtful, endearing, and utterly unforgettable Bug in TOO BRIGHT TO SEE.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karen Arendt

    I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book. At first I thought it was a slightly scary ghost story. After all, some of those ghost activities had me worried for Bug! Then I thought it was more about Uncle Roderick being. Drag queen. Wrong again. This is the story of Bug’s uncle dying and still needing to tell Bug something-hence the haunting. But it is also about being true to yourself and finding, making, and keeping friends. And, yes, it’s a ghost story too. I very much enjoyed Bug’s t I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book. At first I thought it was a slightly scary ghost story. After all, some of those ghost activities had me worried for Bug! Then I thought it was more about Uncle Roderick being. Drag queen. Wrong again. This is the story of Bug’s uncle dying and still needing to tell Bug something-hence the haunting. But it is also about being true to yourself and finding, making, and keeping friends. And, yes, it’s a ghost story too. I very much enjoyed Bug’s thought process as she figures out what she finally needs to understand. The story is appropriate, honest and innocent. I will be adding this to the school library. Thank you, Kyle for a very important story. .

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    I really like this book. I think it will open minds and hearts in powerful ways. Figuring out who we are can be tough, especially kids going into middle school, but for 11 year old Bug it is even more so. Bug's Uncle Roderick just died. Bug and their mom have lived with Uncle Roderick since Bug's dad died right after birth. Bug's best friend Moira wants them to prepare for middle school with make up, cool clothes, and boy talk, but that doesn't interest Bug. Oh, and Bug's house is haunted. Bug s I really like this book. I think it will open minds and hearts in powerful ways. Figuring out who we are can be tough, especially kids going into middle school, but for 11 year old Bug it is even more so. Bug's Uncle Roderick just died. Bug and their mom have lived with Uncle Roderick since Bug's dad died right after birth. Bug's best friend Moira wants them to prepare for middle school with make up, cool clothes, and boy talk, but that doesn't interest Bug. Oh, and Bug's house is haunted. Bug sees someone else in the mirror, is getting messages from Uncle Roderick?, and struggles to decipher what the message means. It all culminates with a profound realization that will change Bug's life forever-and hopefully for the better.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Janice Liu

    "A lot of books have a moral, some lesson about how you have to stay true to who you are. But those books never tell you how to figure out what your self is. They assume that you know already, and are pretending to be someone else for a while to fit in." This was lovely, a perfect middle-grade queer story. It's positive, without bullying or harassment, but not too sugary-sweet - there are quite a few sad bits that deal with grief. I love that Bug has a positive queer adult role model, something a "A lot of books have a moral, some lesson about how you have to stay true to who you are. But those books never tell you how to figure out what your self is. They assume that you know already, and are pretending to be someone else for a while to fit in." This was lovely, a perfect middle-grade queer story. It's positive, without bullying or harassment, but not too sugary-sweet - there are quite a few sad bits that deal with grief. I love that Bug has a positive queer adult role model, something a lot of kids my age didn't have. This felt like a real family, and I imagine it's true to the experiences of many queer kids today.

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