The Ship We Built
"Sometimes I have trouble filling out tests when the name part feels like a test too. . . . When I write letters, I love that you have to read all of my thoughts and stories before I say any name at all. You have to make it to the very end to know."Rowan has too many secrets to write down in the pages of a diary. And if he did, he wouldn’t want anyone he knows to discover them. He understands who he is and what he likes, but it’s not safe for others to know. Now, the kids at school say he’s too different to spend time with. He’s not the “right kind” of girl, and he’s not the “right kind” of boy. His mom ignores him. And at night, his dad hurts him in ways he’s not ready to talk about yet.But Rowan discovers another way to share his secrets: letters. Letters he attaches to balloons and releases into the universe, hoping someone new will read them and understand. But when he befriends a classmate who knows what it’s like to be lonely and scared, even at home, Rowan realizes that there might already be a person he can trust right by his side.Tender and wise, The Ship We Built is about the bravery it takes to stand up for yourself–even to those you love–and the power of finding someone who treasures you for everything you are.

The Ship We Built Details

TitleThe Ship We Built
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 26th, 2020
PublisherDial Books
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, LGBT, GLBT, Queer, Transgender, Fiction

The Ship We Built Review

  • Colette
    January 1, 1970
    *Thank you Netgalley, Lexie Bean, and to the publisher for an eARC of The Ship We Built! All thoughts and comments are my own.Just.. wow. I finished the book about an hour ago and I'm still trying to process my thoughts on this. Rowan is in 5th grade during the late 90s, navigating their body and what it means to be a boy or girl. Lexie Bean does an amazing job with identifying issues that a young trans kid may experience growing up.This book is SO IMPORTANT. A name is important. It is our main *Thank you Netgalley, Lexie Bean, and to the publisher for an eARC of The Ship We Built! All thoughts and comments are my own.Just.. wow. I finished the book about an hour ago and I'm still trying to process my thoughts on this. Rowan is in 5th grade during the late 90s, navigating their body and what it means to be a boy or girl. Lexie Bean does an amazing job with identifying issues that a young trans kid may experience growing up.This book is SO IMPORTANT. A name is important. It is our main identifier. As someone who has personally struggled with this as well, sometimes we don't know when to use our birth name or a name we choose for ourselves. Throughout the story, Rowan switches between names based on his current mood. This personally really resonated with myself, because my father forced a name on me that was not mine. I periodically had to switch given the situation that I was in. In a growing society where we learn acceptance of each and every human, this book is going to be a stand out. It is currently the only middle grade book that features a trans boy character, and written by a trans author. I hope that this representation finds its way to more audiences. I recommend this book to anyone working with people, kids, and those who may identify with any of the themes presented. I hope to see this book in my kids' library. If you are that ONE person who shows kindness to someone who needs it most.. you could be saving their life. Thank you so much Lexie for writing this book. The world needs this now more than ever. **Trigger warning for light disclosures on sexual abuse, substance abuse, homophobia, and bullying. The author does an excellent job with bringing these issues to light, while providing resources at the conclusion to the book.
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  • ari
    January 1, 1970
    This is an ownvoices review.It's going to be hard for me to articulate exactly the experience of reading The Ship We Built. It was extremely painful, yet healing in ways I didn't expect. The experiences of young trans boy Rowan's are so similar to my own, it felt as though Lexie Bean had seen within me, and seen my still very open and very raw wounds of childhood - from the sexual abuse Rowan cannot yet put into words, to his surety of being a boy and the complications that come with trying to u This is an ownvoices review.It's going to be hard for me to articulate exactly the experience of reading The Ship We Built. It was extremely painful, yet healing in ways I didn't expect. The experiences of young trans boy Rowan's are so similar to my own, it felt as though Lexie Bean had seen within me, and seen my still very open and very raw wounds of childhood - from the sexual abuse Rowan cannot yet put into words, to his surety of being a boy and the complications that come with trying to understand where his own boyhood fits into the perceptions he has of manhood due to the abuse from men in his life.At times I needed to put this book down and take a breath and distance myself, as it got too much. The depictions of loneliness, of fear, of isolation were so heartbreaking and the gorgeous writing felt like a punch to the gut. There is something so heart wrenching about reading something that stares so directly into your soul, and your own experiences of abuse and young transness. There were times even when I thought maybe I wouldn't have the strength to finish it, but I am so so glad I did. The Ship We Built is ultimately healing. It's about finding yourself, it's about finding the words to express yourself and what you've been through. It's about the tenderness of friendship and love and understanding, and this book is definitely that - tender. It felt to me like a hug from someone who really sees me.Despite this being middle grade fiction, I absolutely encourage adults to pick this up too, especially trans readers - you will get so much out of it.Trigger warnings: heavily implied child sexual abuse (not graphic, but a strong theme throughout the whole book), parental neglect and abuse, transphobia and homophobia, internalised transphobia and homophobia, suicidal thoughts and ideation
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  • maya
    January 1, 1970
    the ship we built had me feeling all the feels - i can only imagine what it would've been like to read this during my own queer coming-of-age. instead, i can't wait to gift this to all the young people in my life who i hope will read this book and see themselves and their friends reflected in its pages. it's a middle-grade novel written in letters that follows a trans boy named rowan living in the midwest during the late 90s. it captures all the messy, lonely, scary feelings of his fifth-grade y the ship we built had me feeling all the feels - i can only imagine what it would've been like to read this during my own queer coming-of-age. instead, i can't wait to gift this to all the young people in my life who i hope will read this book and see themselves and their friends reflected in its pages. it's a middle-grade novel written in letters that follows a trans boy named rowan living in the midwest during the late 90s. it captures all the messy, lonely, scary feelings of his fifth-grade year in such a careful, hopeful voice. it's a story about how to be yourself when who you are is changing (and the rest of the world refuses to let you change at all). about the ache of constantly feeling out of place. about sending your secret truths out into the world, hoping someone will see them and see you. about wanting more than you think you could ever have. about finding the people who will love you for everything you are. and about imagining a future you can belong to. rowan explores what it's like to be afraid of your own changes. he questions if he can still be a boy if he cries and sings loudly and his favorite hero is matilda. he worries about what it will be like to grow up when he doesn't see an example of the kind of man he might want to be. but by the end, he begins to see that there are a lot more ways to be a boy than he thought. and just like rowan, this book reaffirmed for me that there are a lot of ways to be trans and tell trans stories.i also loved what it has to say about friendship, especially between queer people, and all the kinds of "ships" we can build to take us to places we're not sure how to get to. rowan's friendship with sofie is so precious. together, they help each other to expand, check in on their feelings, and hold close the good times and get through the hard. it is by no means an easy read, but it is honest and spacious. reminded me of lynda barry's my perfect life, jerry spinelli's stargirl, and nicole panteleakos' planet earth is blue. i will be rereading often <3a big thank you to netgalley & lexie bean for sending me this genuine rosebud of a novel.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    I love this book. It’s one of those books you can’t put down, and when you do finish it, you sit there wishing for more and wanting to know what happens with the characters and what they’re up to now. The first couple of pages completely pulled me into the story and I ended up reading it in one sitting.I’m a sucker for a book told in letter or journal form, and so of course I’m a fan of the format of The Ship We Built. The author’s twist on the letter format was creative and (literally) upliftin I love this book. It’s one of those books you can’t put down, and when you do finish it, you sit there wishing for more and wanting to know what happens with the characters and what they’re up to now. The first couple of pages completely pulled me into the story and I ended up reading it in one sitting.I’m a sucker for a book told in letter or journal form, and so of course I’m a fan of the format of The Ship We Built. The author’s twist on the letter format was creative and (literally) uplifting. When I was in elementary school and starting out reading middle grade books, I was always drawn to books in this format—I think it helped me get to know the characters on such a deep, intimate level.Rowan is such a real and wonderful character—I was so struck by his process throughout the book of learning to believe himself—believe what he knew to be his gender, his name, and the realities of the hard things he was experiencing. The character Sophie has great wisdom not only in how to show up for transgender children and/or children who are experiencing abuse—but in how to show up for people of all ages who are trans and/or have experienced abuse.While I was reading The Ship We Built, I kept thinking that it reminded me of a middle-grade Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s hard to describe, but this is how I can put it best: both books left me with a kind of feeling that helped me feel less alone in the things that make me feel lonely. I think this is a great book for people of all ages—but especially for kids that are experiencing abuse or have friends that are, and for kids that are trans or have friends that are.Lexie Bean wrote with such talent and empathy—this is a book that is unique not just for its content (there are not enough published books for kids by transgender authors) but also for the skill, research (I was catapulted into 90’s nostalgia), and life experience put into writing it.I’m so grateful to have read this book. Huge thanks to NetGalley and Lexie Bean for sending me a copy of the galley!
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  • Julia L
    January 1, 1970
    This book is important, powerful, and profound while being tender and intimate and real. I wish this was written so long ago, and am so glad it exists now. Read this for you, and give it to everyone you can. I'm going to miss our protagonist, now that I've read it.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.Rowan just wants to be himself, the problem is that when people look at him they just see Ellie. Rowan must learn to navigate school as friends become cruel and he begins to retreat into himself. His mom seems absent in his life and his dad pays the wrong type of attention to him. To escape his reality he finds comfort in writing down his story on letters that he attaches to balloons, in the hopes that someone, somewhere I received an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.Rowan just wants to be himself, the problem is that when people look at him they just see Ellie. Rowan must learn to navigate school as friends become cruel and he begins to retreat into himself. His mom seems absent in his life and his dad pays the wrong type of attention to him. To escape his reality he finds comfort in writing down his story on letters that he attaches to balloons, in the hopes that someone, somewhere will find them.I had high hopes for this story, and the story itself is moving. It is emotionally gripping and even in the depths of all the abuse Rowan/Ellie endures, he does find a friend (and a rather fabulous one at that). My issues were largely pacing ones. I felt like parts of this really meandered, to the point where I'm not sure that a child who really needed this would stick it through. I think Bean spent far too much effort setting this story in the 90s. Yes, the Spice Girls were a thing-we get it.That being said, I do still look forward to reading what comes next for Bean. I have really high expectations (especially if this is the same Lexie Bean who has written numerous articles for Teen Vogue). And perhaps, that is what I crave-a really awesome teen book in the voice I get from those articles.
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  • Marisa
    January 1, 1970
    Arc provided by publisher for an honest review. Wow. I just heard about this book a few days and couldn’t wait to read pick up The Ship We Built after hearing such an heartfelt booktalk by the editor. As someone with a trans masculine family member, I search for books that could’ve and would’ve helped him at that time and I don’t see as many trans masculine middle grade stories as I’d hope.Thank you to the author Lexie Bean, they wrote a much needed book that I hope will find its way into the ha Arc provided by publisher for an honest review. Wow. I just heard about this book a few days and couldn’t wait to read pick up The Ship We Built after hearing such an heartfelt booktalk by the editor. As someone with a trans masculine family member, I search for books that could’ve and would’ve helped him at that time and I don’t see as many trans masculine middle grade stories as I’d hope.Thank you to the author Lexie Bean, they wrote a much needed book that I hope will find its way into the hands of those who need it.This is an achingly beautiful middle grade story of a trans boy, Rowan (birth name Ellie), in 5th grade writing letters attached to balloons being sent out in the world, desperately hoping someone will and won’t find them. Rowan has so many secrets and is trying to figure things out; this is his journey, written in epistolary form. This book is set in 1997/1998, I was only a few years older than Rowan and I thoroughly enjoyed so many little nuances and memories of music, pop culture, and food from my childhood being included. No spoilers in this review, no quotes (though there are so many stand out lines).This book tactfully explores topics: suggested sexual abuse/incest, homophobia, mean girls/bullying, racism, incarceration, and alcoholic behavior.
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  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    This moved too slow to be anything but painful. Yet the pain is all part and parcel for a story about becoming who you were meant to be. Rowan wants to become that person but being Ellie gets in the way and he finds ways to share his message with the world by sending up letters in balloons as salve for his frustration and pain. Pain in particular because his father is sexually abusing him.It's an emotional story but I'm not sure the intended audience will find the comfort in the deep "tenderness This moved too slow to be anything but painful. Yet the pain is all part and parcel for a story about becoming who you were meant to be. Rowan wants to become that person but being Ellie gets in the way and he finds ways to share his message with the world by sending up letters in balloons as salve for his frustration and pain. Pain in particular because his father is sexually abusing him.It's an emotional story but I'm not sure the intended audience will find the comfort in the deep "tenderness" that the story is attempting to set the tone for. It's one of those that an adult reading for middle grade will get behind before I think the actual students will. Yet it's a story about being seen and Bean is that person that needed to be seen and wrote a book to "see" other kids who were like them when they didn't have a story like this. So I get it, it just wasn't for me and took took long to unfurl and connect in part because Bean spent too much energy trying to really place you in the 90s.
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  • Charlotte
    January 1, 1970
    I want to preface my review by saying… I am going to refer to the main character as Rowan Beck. Rowan is a 10-year-old transgender boy. While another name is used to identify Rowan in the book, and other pronouns I am going to use Rowan’s name and the pronoun he. That’s what seems right to me, but I apologize if I have confused anyone or done it wrong. That just seems right to me! Now! On to the review.Rowan is ten years old and Rowan is a transgender boy. He doesn’t necessarily have the exact v I want to preface my review by saying… I am going to refer to the main character as Rowan Beck. Rowan is a 10-year-old transgender boy. While another name is used to identify Rowan in the book, and other pronouns I am going to use Rowan’s name and the pronoun he. That’s what seems right to me, but I apologize if I have confused anyone or done it wrong. That just seems right to me! Now! On to the review.Rowan is ten years old and Rowan is a transgender boy. He doesn’t necessarily have the exact vocabulary to describe it, but he knows that he is different – special on days when he is feeling more charitable towards himself. “I’m not like other boys,” Rowan declares early in the novel and his is the beginning of the story.His group of girlfriends have abandoned him and have begun the almost silent bullying that so often happens in middle school: laughing, pointing, exclusion. There’s Sophia… Rowan thinks that he and Sophia have a lot in common. Neither of them seems to “fit in” the way they feel the should. Together they have a tender and touching friendship. I was particularly touched by the way they would leave rocks on each other’s porches so that they knew they were each fine. It struck me as something that a young person would do… a way of existing and being noticed.Because of the inner turmoil Rowan is dealing with he begins writing letters to an anonymous friend. Using his allowance Rowan buys balloons and ties the letters to them and sets them free. It’s a wonderful coping mechanism and a beautiful vehicle for the character’s thoughts.“I don’t really care if the person reading this is a boy or a girl, but for some reason picking sides seems to matter more now than ever.” – RowanThe letters are Rowan’s way of processing what is going on in his own mind and around him. As he explores gender by signing with different names and pondering the way he feels about various students at his school – Rowan reveals that he has another secret. Clearly, he is dealing with sexual abuse at home. The letters are very realistic, heart-felt and reflected the turmoil of living in a home in which there is little safety. I found the voice sometimes varied a bit… there were times when I felt that Rowan seemed much younger than 10 years old, but I suppose that could be a manifestation of spending so much time alone. It’s a minor issue.I did feel that the 90s references in the book were a little overwhelming. Sometimes there were so many references that it pulled me out of the emotion of the novel.This is a very important topic and I suspect that it will reach children right where they are. I don’t know that all young people will connect with Rowan as the letter-writing is something than a lot of young people won’t identify with. I do see how it would be a way of speaking when you feel as though you aren’t being heard. And, if there is any message in this book it’s that Rowan is desperately trying to say something, and no one is listening.
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  • Ryan Davenport
    January 1, 1970
    One of the friction points for adults picking up middle grade and YA fiction is often whether the reader will be able to relate. In other words, does the distance of adulthood disconnect us from the reality of a ten-year old’s problems. However, when Rowan gets kicked out of the Trampoline Club in the opening pages of Lexie Bean’s middle grade novel The Ship We Built, I found myself thrust back into the throes of middle school hallways with memories of when I too felt the humiliation of being ex One of the friction points for adults picking up middle grade and YA fiction is often whether the reader will be able to relate. In other words, does the distance of adulthood disconnect us from the reality of a ten-year old’s problems. However, when Rowan gets kicked out of the Trampoline Club in the opening pages of Lexie Bean’s middle grade novel The Ship We Built, I found myself thrust back into the throes of middle school hallways with memories of when I too felt the humiliation of being excluded, the particular sting of isolation that burns even more in childhood and adolescence. And this the ultimate goal of middle grade and YA fiction, and truly all fiction, to force us to reflect and see our lives through a new lens.The narrative is set in the Michigan Upper Peninsula town of Houghton, or a place forgotten by some mapmakers “because so much of the land is just forest and abandoned mines,” in the late-90s. For Rowan fifth grade is the last year before middle school, a moment on the cusp of dramatic change. Rowan tells his truth through letters then tied to balloons and floated into the air hoping to find an anonymous reader out there, someone who might understand them, but even Rowan knows the letters mean far more. They are a diary that cannot be kept, with no place hidden enough to provide safety in a world that confronts trans lives with violence. The letter format draws similarities to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a book cherished by young queer readers for introducing one of the most iconic and relatable gay characters. For some young readers, Rowan will be the first trans character they have read, and their first experience encountering the complexity, struggle, but most of all, the joy of finding true connection in a world that can be so lonely for queer children. For others, children stumbling upon this to see something of themselves, they will find a character to empathize with and most of all to look up to. The Ship we Built humanizes through depth of character and moments of sincere connection rather than confrontation. The anti-trans news stories too-often dominating the airwaves squash the reality that behind every clickbait news story is a human being, a kid, searching and struggling for identity, alone with unseen bravery. We are welcomed into this journey through clean and honest prose, and a thoroughly genuine protagonist that does not keep anything from us, even when we want to close our eyes and scream out for help. Lexie Bean erases the role of the narrator immersing us into the bedroom, classroom and basements of Rowan’s life, proving too how the nostalgia for 90s culture grows more infectious by the year.Lexie Bean is a writer to watch out for. They have edited several anthologies of trans and non-binary survivors of domestic violence along with this debut novel. The Ship We Built is destined to become a classic in the growing category of trans middle grade and YA literature, as one of the first middle grade books focusing on a trans masculine character written by a trans author.
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  • Brock Rudlaff
    January 1, 1970
    This book was emotionally draining to read, but in a good way! Every letter carved out pieces of my heart and left me feeling more and more empty until the ending filled me back up with warm, glowing truth. Whoever you are and whatever you've been through, you'll find ways to relate with Rowan. I haven't gone through most of the struggles that Rowan faces, but I was able to relate with issues on self-worth, the dread felt from displeasing others, and the resulting fear of being yourself. Reading This book was emotionally draining to read, but in a good way! Every letter carved out pieces of my heart and left me feeling more and more empty until the ending filled me back up with warm, glowing truth. Whoever you are and whatever you've been through, you'll find ways to relate with Rowan. I haven't gone through most of the struggles that Rowan faces, but I was able to relate with issues on self-worth, the dread felt from displeasing others, and the resulting fear of being yourself. Reading this gave me more feelings than anything I've ever read. The author describes the pains and joys of Rowan in a way that I would feel them myself. And as a Houghton resident, I can say that they also did an amazing job of describing the small yooper town that Rowan grows up in, from the physical traits and landmarks to the culture and worldviews of the residents.Reading this book opened my eyes to how serious Rowan's struggles are and how much one loving person can improve someone's life. This book has had a great positive impact on me, and I hope you'll take the time to find out how it can impact you.
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  • Heather Biggie
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to love this much-needed middle grade book, but I just couldn't get through it. I stopped reading this about halfway through. The characters had no depth causing me to feel disconnected to them; maybe this was due to the story-telling through letters too. The constant 90's references became an unnecessary focal point of the story causing serious disruptions in the plotline. Rowan, born Ellie, is struggling with his identity at an age when the biggest concern is being invited to the next I wanted to love this much-needed middle grade book, but I just couldn't get through it. I stopped reading this about halfway through. The characters had no depth causing me to feel disconnected to them; maybe this was due to the story-telling through letters too. The constant 90's references became an unnecessary focal point of the story causing serious disruptions in the plotline. Rowan, born Ellie, is struggling with his identity at an age when the biggest concern is being invited to the next birthday party and being invited to play at recess. While trying to come to terms with his identity, he's also being abused by his father. The story is told through letters written by Rowan that he sends off on balloons for someone to find.*Netgalley and Penguin provide an E-ARC for an honest review
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  • Tracy
    January 1, 1970
    Just finished this ARC that is set to come out at the end of May. This is such a beautiful first novel with important themes, the biggest one for me was the importance of being seen. 5th grade Rowan is amazingly resilient and hopeful despite the many things stacked against him. Throughout the book I found myself just wanting to be his cheerleader, and hoping that eventually he could find joy and peace in his life when it seemed that at every turn he was met with loneliness, abuse, and ostracism. Just finished this ARC that is set to come out at the end of May. This is such a beautiful first novel with important themes, the biggest one for me was the importance of being seen. 5th grade Rowan is amazingly resilient and hopeful despite the many things stacked against him. Throughout the book I found myself just wanting to be his cheerleader, and hoping that eventually he could find joy and peace in his life when it seemed that at every turn he was met with loneliness, abuse, and ostracism. One of his brilliant coping strategies is in the letters he sends out to the world by balloon. The letters are a metaphor for his hopes-you have to read a letter before you know who wrote it, the content being more important than the label of the person. I loved this message the most. We all need to be seen for our content before our label.
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  • Ruby Lee
    January 1, 1970
    The Ship We Built was a difficult read. It was difficult because of the subject matter but the presentation was fantastic. It follows a fifth grader in Michigan, in the 90s, while they explore gender and identity. This is done through letters sent to no one in particular by balloon. The letters take on an incredibly confessional tone to the point where I struggled to continue reading. Some of it felt like the usual pains of growing up. Some were much more heartbreaking as the protagonist hinted The Ship We Built was a difficult read. It was difficult because of the subject matter but the presentation was fantastic. It follows a fifth grader in Michigan, in the 90s, while they explore gender and identity. This is done through letters sent to no one in particular by balloon. The letters take on an incredibly confessional tone to the point where I struggled to continue reading. Some of it felt like the usual pains of growing up. Some were much more heartbreaking as the protagonist hinted at deeper abuses at home.I honestly feel that this book has the potential to appeal more to adults. Definitely would only recommend to mature middle-graders as there is somewhat subtle allusion to sexual abuse. My only complaint is that parts moved too slowly where nothing progressed for a bit too long with no additional characterization or plot development.
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  • Heather Biggie
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to love this much-needed middle grade book, but I just couldn't get through it. I stopped reading this about halfway through. The characters had no depth causing me to feel disconnected to them; maybe this was due to the story-telling through letters too. The constant 90's references became an unnecessary focal point of the story causing serious disruptions in the plotline. Rowan, born Ellie, is struggling with his identity at an age when the biggest concern is being invited to the next I wanted to love this much-needed middle grade book, but I just couldn't get through it. I stopped reading this about halfway through. The characters had no depth causing me to feel disconnected to them; maybe this was due to the story-telling through letters too. The constant 90's references became an unnecessary focal point of the story causing serious disruptions in the plotline. Rowan, born Ellie, is struggling with his identity at an age when the biggest concern is being invited to the next birthday party and being invited to play at recess. While trying to come to terms with his identity, he's also being abused by his father. The story is told through letters written by Rowan that he sends off on balloons for someone to find.
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    Rowan Beck knows he was born a boy, but is unable to walk confidently as one at home or at his elementary school in a small Minnesota town where most people still call him by the name Ellie. Faced with isolation at home and school, Rowan explores his thoughts and feelings in the form of letters he releases to the universe tied to a balloon. VERDICT is that this is an authentically written and heart wrenching story about identity and friendship, but I am not sure where I would place it in my lib Rowan Beck knows he was born a boy, but is unable to walk confidently as one at home or at his elementary school in a small Minnesota town where most people still call him by the name Ellie. Faced with isolation at home and school, Rowan explores his thoughts and feelings in the form of letters he releases to the universe tied to a balloon. VERDICT is that this is an authentically written and heart wrenching story about identity and friendship, but I am not sure where I would place it in my library. It is being classified as Children’s Fiction, but I am not sure how many children will be able to stick with Rowan throughout his story. As an adult reader I really had to push myself to finish this book. I was emotionally invested in Rowan’s story, but found it to move quite slowly at times. I think I would be more likely to recommend this book to older teens and adults interested in LGBTQIA+ literature. This is a story that needs to be told and I think has the potential to be impactful on readers, but I wish I could be more confident that it will appeal to a wider age range of readers, specifically younger middle grade readers.
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  • alex
    January 1, 1970
    I really wanted to like this book, and as a trans-masc person there were some aspects that I really resonated with. However, this doesn't feel like a middle grade book for today's generation of readers.I was born in 2000 and barely understood the multitude of references to 1990s popular culture, I'm not sure how this will translate to readers even more detached from what the world was like in 1990. Rowan's voice was also extremely inconsistent and it never felt like he was the same age on each p I really wanted to like this book, and as a trans-masc person there were some aspects that I really resonated with. However, this doesn't feel like a middle grade book for today's generation of readers.I was born in 2000 and barely understood the multitude of references to 1990s popular culture, I'm not sure how this will translate to readers even more detached from what the world was like in 1990. Rowan's voice was also extremely inconsistent and it never felt like he was the same age on each page, making it difficult to understand him as a character.Overall, an enjoyable read but may have been better if it wasn't aimed at such a young audiences.
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  • Aaron
    January 1, 1970
    This was a deeply impactful, ownvoices story of a trans boy growing up in a world searching for someone to see them and let them belong while suffering all types of abuse. I am not sure the pacing and the 90's cultural references will work for students, and was a little surprised by so many in an MG book. Rowan's journey is told through letters that he writes to whomever might read them. He puts them in balloons and sends the balloons off. He has no one that he really feels like he can talk to a This was a deeply impactful, ownvoices story of a trans boy growing up in a world searching for someone to see them and let them belong while suffering all types of abuse. I am not sure the pacing and the 90's cultural references will work for students, and was a little surprised by so many in an MG book. Rowan's journey is told through letters that he writes to whomever might read them. He puts them in balloons and sends the balloons off. He has no one that he really feels like he can talk to about the issues in his life, and the transformations he wants to make from being known as Ellie to Rowan. The ending, the afterword, and author's note were excellent.
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    “Own voices” story about a 5th grader born a girl but feels she is a boy. Ellie/Rowan is confused and very lonely after they share this with friends and they abandon her. Rowan has one friend, and often they stay silent together. Rowan’s home life is awful, with a sexually abusive father (not described graphically at all but heartbreaking). Rowan sees a counselor that her parents find but is told what he is feeling is wrong. The story is so sad but ends with some hope.
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  • Chari
    January 1, 1970
    I think this book will be important to some kids. However, there were a couple of things that bothered me. I'm not sure why the author chose the time period it was set in, maybe it's semi-autobiographical? Also, the voice of the main character didn't seem consistent. Sometimes it sounded like the character was much older than the age of the protagonist, and sometimes it sounded much younger. I would like for that to have been more consistent.
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  • Candice Montgomery
    January 1, 1970
    This book was beautiful in all its heartbreak.Catch me, Lexie and James Lecesne (co-founder of The Trevor Project) on a Zoom panel TODAY 6/14/20.We'll be discussing it all and all donations (by way of Eventbrite) will be going to GLITS, Inc. (A grassroots org benefitting trans women).Eventbrite link here: https://t.co/UefbDctHSMRegister! Donate a lil somethin. And come see us on Zoom! This book was beautiful in all its heartbreak.Catch me, Lexie and James Lecesne (co-founder of The Trevor Project) on a Zoom panel TODAY 6/14/20.We'll be discussing it all and all donations (by way of Eventbrite) will be going to GLITS, Inc. (A grassroots org benefitting trans women).Eventbrite link here: https://t.co/UefbDctHSMRegister! Donate a lil somethin. And come see us on Zoom!
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    An incredibly moving story about a young person in the process of discovering their identity amid the challenges of growing up. Through his letters, Rowan navigates with deep sensitivity his experiences of trauma, his hopes and connections with others, and what it means to be a trans boy in a heteronormative world. Highly recommended.
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  • Mariah MacCarthy
    January 1, 1970
    Oh my gosh, this book is stunning. Even as it deals with such difficult subjects as homo/transphobia, incarceration, sexual abuse, and bullying, somehow each chapter feels like a hug. This is a dear, dear book, a pen pal letter to the wounded child inside you, a tribute to imagination and love and hope. I am in awe of this book. I want to give it to everyone I love. Please read it.
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  • Mieko
    January 1, 1970
    The Ship We Built touched all the tender places in my heart, and it will touch yours too. I only wish I had this book as a kid, to read and share with friends. But I have it now, and am so glad I did.
  • Baylee
    January 1, 1970
    3.9
  • Valerie
    January 1, 1970
    My ultimate test of a good book is if you continue the story of the main character in your mind after you have read the book. And if you miss the character. I dearly miss Rowen, I want to know the rest of their story. How do they grow up? Are they happy? I imagine in my mind that they are one happy young adult, because I want that for them.
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  • Becca King
    January 1, 1970
    Loved this book! Like reading notes from a friend I wish I'd had. Very insightful.
  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    Queer content: trans boyContains homophobia, racism, abuse, offscreen/implied sexual abuse/incest
  • Kacey
    January 1, 1970
    One of those stay up till 2am reads
  • Nicole Melleby
    January 1, 1970
    This book was gorgeous, and I cried through most of it. I'll write an actual review once I've processed how much I loved this.
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