OMG when I was sitting in the Convention Center in Denver and they flashed the cover on the screen and called out Melanie’s name…I almost fell out of my chair! Mainly, not due to my lack of balance, but to the secret I was bursting at the seams to tell, shout, scream…that we picked this beautifully illustrated graphic middle school LGBTQ novel as a hit, too! and that we knew it was going to get recognition with ALA Annual Awards, too.
When Melanie Gillman wrote this novel, it wasn’t just to express the gender bindery our youth are aware of and identify with in their younger years, but the pigeon holes our society tries to force us to conform to in general. For the girls were on a hike that occurred historically by women in the 19th Century whose husbands refused to support their need to simply take a break from the drudgery of work, family, and household duties. When they were not allowed to go with permission, they took off anyhow, because they needed the break. So the hike in a sense was symbolic of this freedom of expression, and the scenery was breathtaking. Being this was a girl’s story, there were some real girl situations where Charlie could have been a little better prepared, and we’ve all been there.
One writer on Goodreads was so ticked off at the storyline till she was speechless as to what urked her about the story. It had nothing to do with the gender identity, though. She didn’t like the challenges and questioning about faith. She didn’t like the fact that the main character, who was a black tween, was chunky with thick legs (it was her second graphic novel displaying black girls in this manner), and she didn’t like the ending. Well, perhaps her attitude got in the way of the fact that there’s a sequel, and that’s why the storyline didn’t go to complete resolution, umKay? and there’s a lot of young girls out there with chunky thick legs! They’re white, black and brown…and it’s about time someone starts to portray that body type as normal and acceptable, so these young girls can develop a healthy sense of self without having others demonize their body image. The world is made up of multiple body structures and the text our youth read should embrace this…and that above all else is what makes this graphic novel relative.