I didn’t love it; I didn’t hate it. Liv was born a girl but is a boy inside. Unfortunately, Liv’s new school requires girls to wear a uniform skirt, something Liv simply cannot tolerate. Determined to change the school’s outdated policy, Liv starts the Pants Project, a campaign to allow pants for all students that may lead to Liv’s coming out as a boy, officially.
AUTHOR: Cat Clarke
PUBLISHER: SourceBooks Jabberwocky
PUBLICATION DATE: March 1, 2017
GENRE: realistic fiction, GLBT
SETTING: present-day, England?–not sure exactly where
GIVE IT TO: MS
SUMMARY: Liv was born a girl but is a boy inside. Unfortunately, Liv’s new school requires girls to wear a uniform skirt, something Liv simply cannot tolerate. Determined to change the school’s outdated policy, Liv starts the Pants Project, a campaign to allow pants for all students that may lead to Liv’s coming out as a boy, officially.
REVIEW: Before I moved overseas, I would never have believed that in 2016, a school would not allow girls to wear pants. But like Liv’s school in the book, my school also requires female students to wear skirts only. It’s not a China thing–Chinese students wear street clothes or tracksuits to school–it’s an expensive British private school thing. Our mother school in London has the same uniform requirements as my school. I personally love skirts and dresses, but I’m glad I can wear pants if I desire. I can’t imagine being forced to wear a skirt all the time.
For me, The Pants Project is a very needed story, but in all honesty, it’s a little lackluster. I liked Liv and especially her two moms, but they didn’t really sparkle as characters as in other similar books I’ve read. Liv’s new friend Jacob is equally dull, even though I was thankful to him for being so cool when Liv tells him he is transgender.
Nevertheless, I do think the book delivers an important message about gender roles and what we consider “normal” in society. Liv’s classmate Jane is a horrible bully to Liv and to countless other meek students at their school, yet the school administration seems to ignore this entirely. Better to focus on what girls wear to school than on one or two girls who terrorize everyone. And the principal saying that he has “bigger issues” at the school than to allow girls to wear pants just sounds like a complete cop-out. Sadly though, after many years as a librarian and a middle school teacher, the principal’s response to Liv’s request to change a long-standing rule is completely realistic.
On a side-note, I read recently that Native American cultures such as Navajo and Crow recognized up to five genders, rather than just two. The “berdache” or “nádleehí”–names for androgenous people–were revered as teachers or religious leaders who embodied two spirits, male and female. I’m not here to engage in a debate about gender identity, but I do think this view does sound kinder and gentler than our current societal stance on it. Read the comments on any Yahoo article referencing a transgender teen and tell me we don’t still have an incredibly long way to go.
THEMES: gender identity, bullying, protesting, friendship
THE BOTTOM LINE: I’m neutral on this purchase. Transgender narrators aren’t so common, but this book was just okay for me. I’m hoping to see some stronger choices for transgender narrators coming up in the next few months.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I don’t have it, and I don’t mind buying it. It’s okay, but for me, not a first purchase.
- Overall: 3/5
- Creativity: 3/5
- Characters: 3/5
- Engrossing: 2/5
- Writing: 3/5
- Appeal to teens: 4/5
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 4/5
- Language: none
- Sexuality: none
- Violence: bullying
- Drugs/Alcohol: none