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My Brother's Name Is Jessica


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Product Description

Sam Waver's life has always been pretty quiet. A bit of a loner, he struggles to make friends, and his busy parents often make him feel invisible. Luckily for Sam, his older brother, Jason, has always been there for him. Sam idolises Jason, who seems to have life sorted - he's kind, popular, amazing at football, and girls are falling over themselves to date him.

But then one evening Jason calls his family together to tell them that he's been struggling with a secret for a long time. A secret which quickly threatens to tear them all apart. His parents don't want to know and Sam simply doesn't understand.

Because what do you do when your brother says he's not your brother at all? That he thinks he's actually . . . your sister?

Author: John Boyne

Paperback, 240 Pages, Published  18 May 2020

Originally published April 2019

Recommended and reviewed by Graeme:

"Irish writer John Boyne is well-known to gay readers, especially after the enormous success of his two recent novels The Heart’s Invisible Furies and A Ladder to the Sky. But he is equally well-known as a writer of young adult fiction and probably his best-known book is the WWII/Holocaust story The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. This book is a return to young adult fiction and as the title makes clear it is about a young teenage boy’s journey towards acceptance of his sister Jessica, who transitions from male to female. Sam Waver is 13-years-old and a bit of a loner. He’s dyslexic and so struggles with reading but also with making friends. His mother is a very high profile politician and the heir apparent to becoming the new Prime Minister of Britain. His father works as her Private Secretary, so they are both extremely focused on their all-important work. Home life isn’t always the top priority and when it is, the fact that the family is in the public eye is always a consideration. But even if his parents were somewhat absent or preoccupied -  Sam and his older brother Jason experienced a long succession of au pairs - Sam could always rely on Jason.  Four years older, and someone who seems to have everything sorted. Jason is popular with his peers and especially with girls, and even has an opportunity to become a professional footballer. So when Jason announces to Sam and his parents that ‘I don’t think I’m your brother. I think I’m actually your sister’, they all struggle to process, let alone understand, this startling news. Talking about the book, Boyne says that he ‘became interested in exploring how a child would deal with complicated issues of gender and sexuality, not when it’s a struggle that he’s facing, but when the struggle belongs to someone he loves.’ And it is a very clever way of narrating the storyline as it draws the reader in. Many of Boyne’s readers may have scant knowledge of trans identity and so as Sam learns, so does the reader. Like John Boyne’s other recent books, this novel is an absolute page-turner - extremely readable, very moving, and serves up some serious issues with plenty of humour and heart."  

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