Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart…

How I Heard About It:  Several of my Twitter friends had received ARC's of this novel and were raving about it.  I have had several connections with Donna over the last few years.  My fourth graders even had the honor of Skyping with her about her book Death by Toilet Paper.  After a few online conversations, Donna was gracious enough to send me my own ARC.  I finished the book this morning and I was blown away by the story.  Readers are in for a treat in May when the novel is released.  

What It Is About:  Lily and Dunkin are both about to begin their eighth grade year.  Dunkin has just moved to Florida from New Jersey with his mother.  They are living with his grandmother.  Lily lives with her parents and older sister.  Lily is struggling to find herself because she was born a male and her parents named her Tim.  She has always known she is a girl even though her "outside parts" are male.  Lily has the support of her mother and sister, but her father just can't quite accept that his son wants to be a girl.  Dunkin is struggling to deal with his life while living with bipolar disorder.  When he is on his medication, everything goes well.  When he isn't on the medication, everything in his life "amps" up, he images people and things, and has conversations with people that aren't really there.  Lily and Dunkin have a few run-ins and seem to have a connection, but when school starts and the basketball boys see how tall Dunkin is, they want to recruit him for the team.  Dunkin is torn between the "cool" kids on the team, and Lily who seems to be a true friend.  With both their issues and struggles, they navigate a difficult year in their life and try to find themselves and a friendship that works for both of them.  

What I Thought Of It:  I tweeted that this story was "perfection".  I don't describe many books that way, but it is the case with this story.  There is so much heart in the book and two of the most beautiful characters that I have ever read about.  Donna's writing is thoughtful, meaningful, and touching.  She handles teenage issues of being transgender and bipolar disorder with honestly and care.  The chapters were short and had titles and made for a quick and enjoyable read.  The plot was narrated by both Lily and Dunkin and worked perfectly for the story.  It was an honor and privilege to be able to read this book before its release in May.  Thank you Donna!  

Who Should Read It:  All adult readers that enjoy middle-grade fiction have to experience the story of Lily and Dunkin.  It is a one of a kind story.  Because of the subject matter within the story I think it is best suited for readers in grades six and above.  Middle-school readers will also be drawn into the worlds of these two incredible characters.  Any young reader that may be struggling with being transgender and/or dealing with being bipolar, will find great satisfaction and meaning from the book.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

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