Title: Some Girls Bind
Author: Rory James
Genre: LGBTQIA, Teens & YA
Publisher: West 44 Books
Release Date: 1st February 2019
BLURB from Goodreads
Jamie knows that she isn't like other girls. She has a secret. She binds her chest every day to feel more like herself. Jamie questions why she is drawn to this practice and why she is afraid of telling her friends, who have their own secrets. Could she really be genderqueer?
The cover has a young female body with the chest bound to look flat, but at this stage we do not know if this is a girl who wants to look like a boy, or something/someone else.
After watching a TV mini series called Butterfly about a young boy who identified as a girl. The mini series centered on his family and how they coped with the news as well as how the young boy himself felt, what he went through at school and with the "system" he had to work through to be herself.
I then noticed this title whilst browsing online and as the TV show had kind of pulled my interest to a subject I had never really given a great deal of thought to and that led to me wanting to read this book.
So I started reading this book not really knowing what was meant by the "hi-lo" terminology. So perhaps I should explain what is meant by this term first . . .I "googled it" here is the result of that search "A hi-lo book, broadly defined, is a title that offers highly interesting subject matter at a low reading level. A number of publishers have focused on producing these books, though they often take slightly different approaches to creating the products that best fit a particular market."
The central character who is the female binding her chest is Jamie. Jamie is secretly binding her chest since she was 14 years old and is scared to reveal that she is doing so to anyone in her family or friends. Jamie has a great group of friends though all seem to have their own issues and the friend can literally talk about anything and everything except their individual secrets. Levi who is gay and his boyfriend Evan,, neither boy has officially "come out" to his parents. Though they both decide to "come out" to their families during the course of the book. It's such a shame when one families reaction is that they do not want their gay son any where near their daughter! Eric wants to drop out of swimming but has been continuing as he feels that is what expected of him and is the way to get a scholarship to further education. There's also Nora who has to take care of her younger brother and is literally their only "parent" as her father is an alcoholic. Nora and Jamie always rush to the cubicles to get changed in gym class. Jamie is hiding her binding and Nora is trying to keep her bruises secret.
Jamie struggles with who she is, is she still a daughter and a sister? Jamie knows she doesn't want to be a boy so discovers she is "gender queer". Jamie hides
The person Jamie eventually feels she can speak to is her brother Steve. When he visits home for the weekend he notices his little sister seems quieter and as though something is wrong. It doesn't take too long to get her to confide in him. Steve immediately accepts his sisters wishes and offers to order her the correct clothing item to bind herself safely and correctly. Steve explains about a guy he knows who is gay and how hard it was for him to "come out". I guess Steve openly talking about sexuality lays the ground work for Jamie to explain how she feels, which is "gender queer". The book covers how her parents react and then how her close circle of friends accept her and support her when she reveals she is gender queer to them.
I thought the characters of Jamie and Steve were really well written and I loved how Steve reassured his sister that he loved her no matter what and that he would always be there for her. He also starts talking about the subject of gender which helps Jamie join the conversation and reveal how she has been feeling to them.
The book was an easy, fairly quick read and would be great as a conversation starter in schools, teen groups or even in an at home setting. I think it would be interesting if the other teens in the group had their own stories too. Even though Levi & Evan reveal their sexuality in this book, they could have their own book//books, and I think Nora should have her own book too. This style of book can really help teens broach the awkward subject.
My immediate thoughts when I finished the book were that the feel of the book, and it's writing style reminded me a little of Moonrise by Sarah Crossan. The subjects that Some Girls Bind places the spotlight on also struck me as similar
to Clean by Juno Dawson.
To sum up this is a great book about a group of friends who are slowly choosing their future paths as well as coming to terms with their sense of themselves. I think I actually learnt a few things from this book. Myself not being a teenager or younger person hadn't heard the term "gender queer" but I understand a little more of the subjects of LGBTQIA. I would certainly be interested in taking a look at any future books by this author.