It’s not often that we see LGBTQIA+ own voices read in Aussie YA, so I thought it might be a good idea to share what I loved about these two books! One of them is a gender fluid sci-fi read about time travel, and the other is a memoir about Nevo transitioning and discovering their gender. I thoroughly enjoyed both books and I hope you guys can support these #ownvoices reads!Ida by Alison Evans
Published by Echo Publishing on January 1, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Diversity, Own Voices, LGBT, Science Fiction
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Booktopia
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How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?
Ida struggles more than other young people to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths.
One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she’s actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she’s considered.
How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important to her, just as she’s discovering what that is, and she can never find her way back?
Ida by Alison Evans Review
It’s not often that a book features as much diversity as Ida, coupled with an intriguing plot about time travel and parallel universes. Often we pick up books which are set out to be diverse and focused on their identities, but Ida simply featured these gender fluid characters while focusing on the time travel element.
They are gender fluid
With three gender fluid characters, one of which uses the they/them/their pronouns, Ida challenged my thinking as it shared how each character related to the other. Ida is an Asian/German bisexual girl who is used to being marginalised, either on her weight or her heritage. Her partner Daisy, is gender fluid who acts as her rock throughout the book. There are also two other mysterious characters, who are both gender fluid in nature and support each other through their endeavours.
She’s a time traveller
Ida has an interesting ability to shift through parallel universes, making minor changes to her life’s circumstances. She’ll use it to change her shampoo, change what she said during a job interview or to change her cereal in the morning. Because she shifts so frequently and so often, the narrative comes through as quite disjointed, as Ida herself has to figure out where she is and how this world is different. It creates a paradox as she keeps on skipping through time, and it’s quite confusing to follow through.
She’s trying to find her way home
I finished Ida in one sitting, because I was so intrigued with her power and where the story took us, as she tries to find her way back to her timeline. I found the whole concept to be completely haunting and slightly scary at times, but the book seamlessly weaves the monotony of daily life with the gripping realisation that time travelling isn’t all that it seems.
While the book maintained a sense of intrigue and mystery throughout the book, I felt there were a lot of loose ends. The ending didn’t really answer the questions that were built up over the course of the book, such as how Ida got her power and who the secondary characters were and their objectives.
With a strong focus on diverse identities, the strong bond between family and time travel, Ida is a fantastic, diverse #LoveOzYA book about discovering happiness in your life. While the confusing narrative may not be for everyone, I couldn’t put the book down.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thanks to Echo Publishing and Bonnier for sending me a review copy of the book!
Ida is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$19.99.
OZYAY PodcastFinding Nevo by Nevo Zisin
Published by Walker Books on May 1, 2017
Genres: Diversity, LGBT, Own Voices, Non Fiction
Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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Meet Nevo: girl, boy, he, she, him, her, they, them, daughter, son, teacher, student, friend, gay, bi, lesbian, trans, homo, Jew, dyke, masculine, feminine, androgynous, queer. Nevo was not born in the wrong body. Nevo just wants everyone to catch up with all that Nevo is. Personal, political and passionate, Finding Nevo is an autobiography about gender and everything that comes with it.
Finding Nevo by Nevo Zisin Review
Different to anything I’ve ever read before, Finding Nevo is a powerful memoir of change. Nevo has never fit into their own skin, as someone who was born a female, but always embraced their male traits. Although they’re only 20, they’ve been through a lot through their various stages of life. Through discovering an identity as a lesbian and leadership in Jewish community, they find a voice for activism and finally, go through a journey of transitioning into another gender.
I felt dehumanised to have people talking about my gender identity as if I wasn’t present.
As someone who doesn’t conform to society’s “norm” (whatever that is) and who walks to the beat of their own drum, I found Nevo really inspirational. They endure bullying, anxiety and depression, gender dysphoria and many other mental health issues from their life experience of being trans. Despite the host of issues they are going through, they still find the importance in educating others, to help others like them. It’s kind of sad how other people like to comment on the issues about Nevo’s own body, own self and identity. Although Nevo is the one going through all this pain, it’s everyone else they have to worry about. And it’s easy to see just how much it affects Nevo as they carry the load of everyone’s worries on their shoulders – their parents, siblings, teachers, students, partner and the wider community.
Nevo has experienced two genders – male and female, and it was incredibly insightful just how different they were regarded as both genders. From internalised misogyny, to men automatically gaining respect from others, to everyone wanting to comment on your weight or appearance when they were a female, these comments really brought to light the unequal treatment that females do, and still receive in society. I loved the commentary on feminism and the unequal treatment of women in society in the book, and the definition of feminism in it is my favourite ever.
Growing up in a society that teaches women we are only as valuable as our appearance leaves many of us desperately needing validation.
Unlike many other transgender stories we often hear in the media, Nevo’s journey isn’t one of “reaching an ultimate goal” of becoming the gender that they’re most comfortable with. They show that it’s a journey, and just because they’ve transitioned, it doesn’t mean they aren’t still exploring their identity. They discuss gender dysphoria, where “the experience of distress brought about by conflicting emotions about one’s gender and body”, and non-binary, discussing people who don’t fit into either the male or female identity.
Even if you don’t usually read nonfiction, I think Finding Nevo has something to offer for everyone. I learnt a lot from reading it, from Nevo’s really powerful and moving voice. They never seek to preach, or to say what should and shouldn’t be the case. Nevo simply tells everyone how they are feeling at the time of what they are going through, and it’s deep, moving and impactful.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Thanks to Walker Books Australia for sending me this review copy.
This book is available in Australian bookstores for RRP$18.99.
How I’ll make a safer space for transgender people
In Nevo’s book, they ask that we share how we’re going to make this world a safer place for other trans people. This is how I’m going to do it –
- seek to understand and not make assumptions about transgender people
- use the correct pronouns where stated
- boost trans and other LGBTQIA+ voices.
Listen to podcast on ABC Radio where we discussed Finding Nevo and Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies on #OzYAY!