Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Gender Blender

So, Blake Nelson is one of my favs. He came to do a reading at our high school and he was a great combination of funny, daring and sweet. I have loved many of his books in the past and was very excited to pick up Gender Blender. Cute title, yes?

Tom and Emma were best friends forever. Then as 5th and 6th grade came along, everything changed. Emma is activitied out by her mom and is constantly on the run from piano to gymnastics and back home for school work. Tom has become a bit of a slob, and is definitely not interested in school anymore.

A freak accident on the trampoline after school results in a Freaky Friday style body switch. Emma is wearing Tom's body and vice versa. How will they survive as each other?

Nelson has slyly slipped quite the social commentary into Gender Blender. Tom sees the psychological nastiness girls need to survive, as well as the pressure on them from both sides of the fence regarding relations with boys. Emma notices that nothing is expected of her in school, and that boys have to hold their feelings in and seem to beat each other up as some twisted form of camaraderie.

While terms like "boner" and "perv" along with periods may make some readers uncomfortable, Nelson offers a frank commentary on what it's like to be a middle schooler today.

I can testify to this as I sit in the library in my invisible adultness and hear the conversations of 7th and 8th grade boys every morning! Personally I can think of nothing more horrifying than having to switch bodies with the opposite sex at age 12. While I didn't love this book, I do think it contains some gems that kids will want to think about!

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