I came across Beautiful Music For Ugly Children by Kristin Cronn-Mills while shelving one day and picked it up because I liked the title. After reading the blurb I was even more interested in the story. As someone who reads a lot of paranormal or dystopian fiction, a story about a transgenered person is not something I normally read. As someone who works in a book store and is often asked by teachers and librarians for books on some of the more difficult topics I was intrigued. After reading the book I am happy to say that I can highly recommend this one to everyone interested in a wonderfully written story.
From the titles of the chapters to the conversations between characters there is humour and wit. There is agony and despair as well as sweetness and light. The story is smoothly written immersing you in the story immediately. It’s a straight forward look at many of the issues a transgendered person has to deal with. From telling your friends and family, to how others perceive you, bullying and hate crimes to living life as yourself they tackle it all.
Liz has finally told her family that she is a boy trapped in a girl’s body. They haven’t taken it well. Her neighbor and friend John (who is like a grandfather to her) has made it possible for her to do a radio show on KZUK a local community station. John shares her love of music and they love to debate all things musical. At the beginning of the book Liz has not yet told John About Gabe. The truth about who she is. In doing the radio show, it is important to be true to himself and so he does it as Gabe.
During the very first airing he gets a fan. The one fan soon grows into a following and Liz starts living more and more as Gabe. This is not a road filled with sunshine and roses. He has to deal with bullies, his feelings towards girls and towards his best friend since kindergarten, Paige.
This is a story that makes you think about how we treat each other. A story that made me wonder, what makes us think we have the right to judge others let alone why we think we have any say in their lives. It reminded me of a t-shirt I had in my 20’s that said
“I M I
U R U
Live and let Live”
I wish we could do that more. That we would remember how it felt when we were teased or left out of things or bullied in what ever way. Though it may not have been as difficult it should make us more aware and considerate and less judgmental of others. We al know what it feels like to be an Ugly Child and should do more to make sure everyone can hear Beautiful Music.
I can not wait to tell others, especially teachers and librarians about this wonderful story. No matter your age I encourage you to read this story and maybe start some open discussion with your friends and loved ones.
I give this book 4 out of 5 reads.