July 2, 2018
Hey there and welcome to my stop on the My Crunchy Life Blog Tour organized by YA Bound Book Tours. I have a review and giveaway for you today, and if you'd like to follow along with the tour, a link to the schedule can be found at the bottom of this post.
Title: My Crunchy Life
Author: Mia Kerick
Publication date: June 26th 2018
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Genre: YA Contemporary - LGBTQ
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Genre: YA Contemporary - LGBTQ
Source: Copy for an honest review
John Lennon fought for world peace, but sixteen-year-old hippie hopeful Kale Oswald’s only made it as far as tie-dying his T-shirts with organic grape juice. Now he’s ready to cement his new hippie identity by joining a local human rights organization, but he doesn’t fit in as well as he’d hoped.
After landing himself in the hospital by washing down a Ziploc bag of pills with a bottle of Gatorade, Julian Mendez came clean to his mother: he is a girl stuck in a boy’s body. Puberty blockers have stopped the maturing of the body he feels has betrayed him. They’re also supposed to give him time to be sure he wants to make a more permanent decision, but he’s already Julia in his heart. What he’s not sure he’s ready to face is the post-transition name-calling and bathroom wars awaiting him at school.
When Kale and Julian come face-to-face at the human rights organization, attraction, teenage awkwardness, and reluctant empathy collide. They are forced to examine who they are and who they want to become. But until Kale can come to terms with his confusion about his own sexuality and Julian can be honest with Kale, they cannot move forward in friendship, or anything more.
My Crunchy Life is the third book I've read by Mia Kerick, and she's quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite authors. She does an amazing job with creating authentic characters you can root for.
The story centers around Kale and Julian and is told in first-person, alternating between the two. Kale is trying out different identities while figuring out who he is and what he should do. He's gone through a few phases -- preppy, goth, and now hippie. It took me a while to realize he desperately wants to fit himself into one particular category, whatever that may be, and he was going to have to learn the hard way that isn't meant to be.
Julian, on the other hand, knows who he wants to be -- he was born a girl trapped in a boy's body. (I'll refer to the character as Julian and use the pronoun "he" because that's how he was referred to for the majority of the book.) He didn't feel comfortable telling his mother the way he felt, but after a suicide attempt, she finds out and is incredibly supportive of him.
I'm sure it didn't happen overnight, but the sacrifices she makes with working long hours to afford the counseling sessions and upcoming medical bills for Julian's transition to Julia made me love her so much. There were a few sweet scenes with Julian and his mother that brought me to tears because the unconditional love she has for her child is amazing. That's how a parent should be.
Kale is self-absorbed, which is easy to be when you aren't sure who you are or what you should be doing, so I can't totally fault him for that. At the same time, it's difficult not to blame him for being so crappy to his cousin, Hughie, who is living with him and his parents. Hughie's mom is irresponsible and doesn't keep him safe, and it takes Kale SO LONG to realize just how bad his cousin wants stability and love. I still rooted for Kale and liked him because he grew as a character over the course of the story.
Kale has a great dad, but a not-so-great mom. I tried not to judge her because she was obviously having a hard time adjusting after losing her job, but I wish Kale's dad had stepped in and told her she can't just give up on her responsibilities, especially being there for Kale and Hughie, who was in desperate need of a positive female role model since his mom wasn't taking care of him either.
Julian seemed more mature than most teens his age. I can't imagine how much courage it would take to transition from one gender to another, especially as a junior in high school where bullying is rampant. He's already bullied considerably before anyone knows he's transgender, yet he's still committed to transitioning. I rooted for him to become Julia all the way!
As a quick side note, I was happy to see counseling portrayed in a realistic manner. I can't tell you how many YA books present counselors as inept or a negative part of a character's life. In real life I know not every counselor is a good one, but unless it's a plot point, counseling shouldn't be shown as a bad thing.
My Crunchy Life explores the chaos of adolescence, the possibility that a person can be attracted to another person regardless of gender, bullying, parental issues, and transitioning from one gender to another. I know this was a long review, but I wanted to give as much love to this book as I got from it. The title and cover don't adequately convey what's inside this book -- you get much more than what meets the eye. Kerick does her research and does it well, which shines through her writing. I wasn't prepared for how much I'd end up loving Kale and Julian/Julia's stories.
I've previously reviewed two of Mia Kerick's books here on the blog -- Clean and Love Spell. Click on the links to read my reviews.
About the Author
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.
Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
Contact Mia at firstname.lastname@example.org.