Stay Gold
Debut author Tobly McSmith delivers a coming-of-age teen love story about a transgender boy who’s going stealth at his new Texas high school and a cisgender girl who is drawn to him, even as she’s counting down the days until graduation. Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Becky Albertalli, and Jenny Han.Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom.Georgia is beginning to think there’s more to life than cheerleading. She plans on keeping a low profile until graduation…which is why she promised herself that dating was officially a no-go this year.Then, on the very first day of school, the new guy and the cheerleader lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? How is Georgia supposed to keep her promise when sparks start flying with a boy like Pony?Funny and poignant, clear-eyed and hopeful, Stay Gold is a story about finding love—and finding yourself.

Stay Gold Details

TitleStay Gold
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 26th, 2020
PublisherHarperTeen
ISBN-139780062943194
Rating
GenreContemporary, Young Adult, LGBT, Romance, GLBT, Queer, Young Adult Contemporary, Fiction, Transgender, Health, Mental Health, Realistic Fiction

Stay Gold Review

  • ✨ jamieson ✨
    January 1, 1970
    ❝ Stay gold, Pony. The world needs you. Stay gold when it’s hard. When it’s lonely. When it’s scary. Especially when it’s scary ❞ When I heard about this book from the publisher, I was pretty excited. It was pitched as a contemporary romance, comparable to ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’, which is a series I adore. I was expecting a sweet, fluffy romance between the new boy, Pony, who is trans and a popular cheerleader at his school called Georgia. This is what this book is … and it also ❝ Stay gold, Pony. The world needs you. Stay gold when it’s hard. When it’s lonely. When it’s scary. Especially when it’s scary ❞ When I heard about this book from the publisher, I was pretty excited. It was pitched as a contemporary romance, comparable to ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’, which is a series I adore. I was expecting a sweet, fluffy romance between the new boy, Pony, who is trans and a popular cheerleader at his school called Georgia. This is what this book is … and it also … isn’t.The first thing I want to say about this book is anyone going into it purely expecting a fluffy contemporary romance may potentially be disappointed and maybe even feel a little blindsided like I was. While Stay Gold does have a contemporary romance with a happily ever after, a lot of this story follows Pony tackling, oftentimes intense, transphobia and discrimination. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, it is important and valid for these issues to be explored in fiction. It just wasn’t what I expected and I want other people to go into this with the right expectations.Stay Gold follows Pony, a seventeen-year-old trans boy who is attending a new school in Texas and has decided to go stealth, meaning he will keep his identity a secret. This is a decision he faces come criticism for, mainly from his out and proud best friend Max who believes more people should be out and visible, and from his sister Rocky who supports him and wants him to be open and honest. When Pony arrives at school, he meets and starts to fall for a popular cheerleader called Georgia. During the process of their romance, Pony comes to the realisation he needs to be honest with Georgia about his identity, and his ultimate decision to come out to her sets of a string of events at his school and a discussion around queer identities. ❝ We only get one chance at life. I couldn’t spend another day stuck because I was worried about what people thought of me ❞ First, I want to point out some basic things I did and didn’t like before I get into a more complex discussion of this book and why my feelings on it are mixed.One thing I did like was Pony and Georgia’s respective characters and personalities. I particularly liked Georgia. She was a really fun character to follow, with lots of flaws and quirks that made her interesting. Pony was a really sympathetic character, and by the end of the book, I was really invested in him. Their romance was also cute, I liked the parts of them just hanging out as friends, I thought it developed their relationship well and their jokes and banter together were cute.I also liked how both Georgia and Pony had friends outside of each other. Georgia’s cheerleader friends were an interesting group and I liked the subplot about their team and relationships. The relationship between Pony and his sister Rocky was also something I loved. I adore sibling relationships in books and I thought this one was well done, and their genuine love for each other, mixed with the way they would tease each other felt so authentic. I also liked the happily ever after the characters got, especially acceptance from friends and family, which I felt was most deserved given how dark this book gets in places. It has some cliche rom-com moments, and I kinda loved them. I also found myself quite sucked into this story, like any good contemporary romance, I felt like I was flying along absorbed into the story and drama. I also loved the hopeful and uplighting ending. It really made me feel warm and happy and I think it was a perfect ending for this story. On the other hand, I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style, it’s first-person addressing the reader which is my least favourite point of view. I also thought some sections of dialogue were a little stilted, and maybe didn’t read like teens talk. But this is a debut, and those are things I can forgive, and it didn’t majorly interrupt my reading experience. ❝ They raised daughters named Sarah and Rachel and now they have a transgender son named Pony and a unicorn named Rocky. They must wonder where it all went wrong ❞ Those likes and dislikes aside, I want to talk about how this book wasn’t exactly what I expected. The characters, and by extension, the romance felt like they functioned as a tool to educate non-cis people about the realities of being a trans teen, and even more broadly non-queer people about the queer community. At times, this book felt stilted because portions would be ‘info dumps’ about living as a trans person, which felt more like they came from the author than naturally from the character. Further, depictions of violent sexual and physical assault, as well as inclusions of suicidal thoughts by the main character were included as a vehicle to educate. For example, the main character contemplates suicide, which acts as a gateway for the book informing and giving statistics about high suicide rates in trans teens. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing to portray in a book, it is just that I think people looking to be educated may resonate with this more than those looking to be represented.I think I was also looking for more of an arc for Georgia, and maybe for her to have to work a little bit more for her ‘redemption’. I felt the narrative didn’t really address her treatment of Pony and the inconsistencies between her actions and dialogue felt underexplored.Finally, I’ve seen almost every pre-review address this, so I thought I would quickly discuss it too. A large focus of this book is around being ‘out and proud’. Pony is criticised by his friends and family for going stealth. His best friend Max is particularly critical, even threatening to end their friendship when Pony refuses to share a petition about a trans friend that could potentially out him. I was looking for more nuance in this discussion. I think the general message of the power that can come from being out and proud, and the representation it gives others was powerful. I also thought the narrative could have delved more into the complexities of it. Max going to a liberal art school, having accepting family and all queer friends and thus a vastly different experience to Pony is only briefly mentioned and not really explored. Further, there is a part where Max calls Pony ‘brave’ for coming out and thus getting assaulted, which felt a little off to me.Overall, I think a lot of my issues with this book boil down to the fact this book didn’t explore queer issues with the nuance I wanted, nor did it give me the story I was expecting. Which is not necessarily a criticism. I think this book is meant to be an introduction to trans issues and the queer community, and that is important. I think this is probably going to be an important and useful book to a lot of people. It’s just not really the story I was looking for. I am sure some people will feel represented by it because realistically, Pony’s experiences are unfortunately ones which trans teens may face. At the same time, there are some discussions and ideas I think may not resonate with every reader, which is fine too. But I think it is a book which ultimately tries to give hope and be uplifting while trying to tackle serious issues head-on.I would recommend this to people who are interested in the premise, as long as you’re knowing it’s not a wholly fluffy contemporary romance. I think the focus on trans issues was important, and the happily ever after ending for the character was sweet.This is a book I have quite a few thoughts about. While on the surface it is a fluffy rom-com, and it does deliver that to some degree, I was blindsided a little by how much the main character goes through in this book. It’s a book I’ll definitely be following through release date, to see more reviews about, especially from ownvoices reviewers. I think it’s going to be a book that some people resonate with, and others do not. And that it is fine. A book doesn’t have to encapsulate every experience or be written in a way to appease every viewpoint to be worthwhile. I feel I was not the target audience of this book, but I also feel there is potentially a market and audience for this book out there that may really benefit from reading it. this is an ARC and included quotes are subject to change upon publication. stay gold releases on may 26th! thank you to HarperCollins for sending me an advanced copy of this title content warnings: misgendering and deadnaming of trans character, sexual and physical assault of main character on page, use of trans and lesbian slurs, public outing, suicidal thoughts and ideation, harassment, homophobia
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  • noah
    January 1, 1970
    oh man i have so many conflicting feelings about this book.it was so nice to read a book about a trans dude. there really isn't enough representation out there, but, i gotta say, this was pretty much the boy version of If I Was Your Girl. plotwise it was so similar. the first chapter from pony's pov was a lot of info dumping on what being transgender is for him, it felt a little stiff, but thankfully pony's pov became a lot more casual and i ended up really liking him. it was really cute experie oh man i have so many conflicting feelings about this book.it was so nice to read a book about a trans dude. there really isn't enough representation out there, but, i gotta say, this was pretty much the boy version of If I Was Your Girl. plotwise it was so similar. the first chapter from pony's pov was a lot of info dumping on what being transgender is for him, it felt a little stiff, but thankfully pony's pov became a lot more casual and i ended up really liking him. it was really cute experiencing pony falling in love with georgia and i just wanted him to be happy. and for them to be happy together!! they have such great chemistry. the thing that got me really angry about this book was how black and white the narrative is about coming out. i know the message was supposed to be "be true to yourself" but it really came across more like "if you're not publicly out to everyone in the world you're a bad person and will never be happy." pony is called a liar by some of the characters for not coming out sooner. and he's constantly berated by his trans friends for not being out to his whole school. there's also an older gay side character who says one of his biggest regrets was not coming out on a large public platform.i think being out and proud and very vocal about it is great. those people are valuable members of the lgbt community, but i think queer people that only want to be out to their friends and family, and people that stay closeted are also important.this book made it seem like being trans was the biggest, if not the only, defining identity a trans person can have and that "lying" about it to everyone was more damaging than literally being beaten half to death.there's more to trans people than just being trans. and it's okay to protect yourself by limiting how many people you come out to.i think if this book didn't have such drastic ideas about coming out i would have absolutely adored it, because i did find myself smiling and getting warm fuzzy feelings while reading it. i really do hope this book inspires queer people to be true to themselves. i just hope they're safe too!
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  • Gabrielle
    January 1, 1970
    10/14/19"Stay Gold" ? "Pony" ? THE OUTSIDERS, anyone? Hello????
  • Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥
    January 1, 1970
    Raise your hand if the first thing that came to your mind was:"Stay gold, Ponyboy... Stay gold..." *sobs*I love the cover and the plot idea so I'm really looking forward for this book to come out! =)The best way to find love is when it unexpectedly bites you into your butt. ;-P
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  • Mimi
    January 1, 1970
    okay, I very rarely do these trigger warnings but since this book is marketed as similar to To All the Boys I've Loved Before and said to be all fun and games, I feel like there need to be trigger warnings so people don't go into this blindly.Trigger warnings for:+ casual aphobia+ lesbophobia in every other chapter, ranging from actual insults "scissor sisters" to internalized lesbophobia and pretending it is the worst thing that someone can be, also the involuntary outing of two lesbians in fro okay, I very rarely do these trigger warnings but since this book is marketed as similar to To All the Boys I've Loved Before and said to be all fun and games, I feel like there need to be trigger warnings so people don't go into this blindly.Trigger warnings for:+ casual aphobia+ lesbophobia in every other chapter, ranging from actual insults "scissor sisters" to internalized lesbophobia and pretending it is the worst thing that someone can be, also the involuntary outing of two lesbians in front of the entire school+ transphobia (both internalized transphobia and from the love interest, who both passively suggests she does not want to be with Pony because that would make her a lesbian and actively when she tells him to his face that the reason she does not want to be with him is because he is transgender and she does not want to ruin her image by being associated with him)+ transphobic slurs such as shemale and tranny + pressuring the protagonist to come out as transgender (both family members and friends do this and one of them even ostracizes the protagonist when he refuses to come out)+ very graphic assault of a transgender boy in a bathroom, including violence, slurs and exposing their body+ suicidal ideationLike I said, I usually don't do these trigger warnings especially in #ownvoices narratives because I believe every voice is valid but I had nightmares about the assault because I was not expecting it in this book and the thought that someone who is transgender (or anyone who is part of the LGBTQIAP+ community, really) will pick this up and think they are about to get a cute romance á la Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky when in fact there is a graphic assault scene and mountains of discrimination from almost every character is just too much for me. So please, be warned and only pick this book up if you think you can handle the above mentioned themes.Take care of yourselves, guys.
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  • Caidyn (BW Reviews; he/him/his)
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!CW: outing, terminal illness, physical assault, bathroom harassment, transphobia, homophobia, using slurs such as "tranny" and "lesbos", pressuring someone to come out despite them not wanting to, unaccepting family, suicidal ideation and almost attempt, deadnaming and misgendering, abusive family, and other things that Mimi (another reviewer) caught and put in this review3.5/5This is an ownvoices review here, y'all, and this i I received an ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!CW: outing, terminal illness, physical assault, bathroom harassment, transphobia, homophobia, using slurs such as "tranny" and "lesbos", pressuring someone to come out despite them not wanting to, unaccepting family, suicidal ideation and almost attempt, deadnaming and misgendering, abusive family, and other things that Mimi (another reviewer) caught and put in this review3.5/5This is an ownvoices review here, y'all, and this is one of the books that matches my trans experience closest. In some ways. Then again, I'm an ace and so I didn't have a high school romance. Nor was I a military brat. And I also didn't live in Texas. However, I did go stealth. More on that in a little bit!For those looking at this amazing cover, please know that this is not a "happy" queer book. While there is a happy ending to it -- although, it felt a bit rushed and too conventional for me -- this book is NOT happy overall. There are lots of insensitive comments and triggering topics that even got to me in some ways because, as I said, this is my life.So, when I was a baby trans, I made the choice to stealth it in high school. My stealthing was very different than Pony's, though. I stealthed it by not coming out and forcing myself to live with being deadnamed and misgendered daily in school. Luckily, I was able to come out to friends and my parents and find mainly acceptance there. But, I stealthed it. The second I got out of high school, I have never looked back and went on my journey.Still, Pony's story got to me on so many different levels. This book is sadly accurate. At times, I felt overwhelmed, that I didn't get why Tobly was shoving all of these triggering things into one book, that this might be more appropriate to explore across multiple books. However, I came to realize that this is the trans experience for some of my siblings. They have to deal with ALL of the things that come up int his book at once.But, the gist of the story is that Pony is a transman who isn't accepted by his family, except for his sister, Rocky. His father can be a bit violent at times and just won't accept that he has a son. When his father gets a transfer to another place, Pony decides that he's going to stealth his last year at high school and finally get to identify as a boy. He has a friend, Max (who I'll talk more about in a second), who is also trans and wants him to do more. Pony doesn't quite expect to fall for anyone at the high school, let alone a cheerleader, Georgia (again, more on her in a second).Things happen, but he does fall for her. He also makes a couple of friends with cismen (who aren't shits, I promise you) who aren't perfect either. He takes a job working for a famous actor who's dying and needs his things straightened out. And things kind of go to hell from there.So, I'm going to start with Georgia because she's more integral to the story. She's a cheerleader, as I said, who likes to lie and make up ridiculous stories. But, she also wants to be a journalist in some ways. She also takes part in a lot of pranks that keep escalating throughout the book to the culmination of prom, where things really go to hell.And, Georgia isn't perfect. She's what I would label a typical southern young woman. Never has been exposed to transpeople and has lots of misconceptions about sexuality and gender identity and what being with someone who's trans means for her sexuality. Pony does come out to her and her reaction is to tell him, basically, that she can't be with him because he's trans. That's hella problematic, but I love that this story also explores the growth of someone and how she learns throughout the book. I think that some people really will hate Georgia, but she also is representative of the people who are trying to learn and aren't always going to be perfect.Then, there's Max. I think I disliked Max more, although I'm very familiar with his type in the LGBTQ+ community. He's the sort that is all-or-nothing. If you're not out and loud and proud, then you're harming whatever queer community. And it's a privilege to be like that in some ways. I wasn't like that in my high school because I was pretty sure that I wouldn't get support from the faculty and teachers or my fellow students and that I would likely be targeted even more for bullying than I already had been (until they figured out that I didn't give a fuck and that I wasn't going to give them the rise they wanted). But Max doesn't see it that way. He constantly pressures Pony to do things when Pony isn't ready. To me, that's not a good friend. I wish that, like Georgia, we could have seen a different side of Max that was more redeemable and didn't fall into the having to be loudly out. I still stealth, for the most part. I don't feel like everyone needs to know my identity and I also want to read the room to protect myself.So my rating is lower than I wanted it to be because I felt that it was very triggering and it was hard for me to read since I gravitate towards happy queer stories. But, also, the ending was rushed. I felt as if it was wrapped up too neatly for the story and all the hard topics that were covered in it. Still a good book and I look forward to reading another book by Tobly, but it was really hard to read.
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  • Madison Mary
    January 1, 1970
    "They raised daughters named Sarah and Rachel and now they have a transgender son named Pony and a unicorn named Rocky. They must wonder where it all went wrong."I had no idea that this book would have such a profound impact on my soul. I implore everyone to read this if they get the chance. SUMMARY Pony sees his new school as an opportunity to hide the fact that he is transgender and enjoy his senior year in peace. But when he begins to develop feelings for Georgia, one of the cheerleaders, "They raised daughters named Sarah and Rachel and now they have a transgender son named Pony and a unicorn named Rocky. They must wonder where it all went wrong."I had no idea that this book would have such a profound impact on my soul. I implore everyone to read this if they get the chance. SUMMARY Pony sees his new school as an opportunity to hide the fact that he is transgender and enjoy his senior year in peace. But when he begins to develop feelings for Georgia, one of the cheerleaders, he starts to fear exposure at every corner. Georgia no longer has any passion for cheer-leading, but she fears quitting and losing her popularity. She decides that she will lay-low for her senior year, but everything changes when she meets the new boy, Pony. REVIEW I cried at the end of this book. I did not expect to cry but I did. This story does not shy away from the horrors a transgender person experiences, or any LGBTQ+ for that matter, when society attacks them. Pony has a strained relationship with his parents, especially his father who refuses to use Pony's proper pronouns and still refers to him by his dead-name. It was hard to read at times because this is a very real world problem that trans teens deal with. His father is constantly asking when Pony will "give up this phase" and "go back to being a girl". It was hard. However, Pony has a supportive relationship with his older sister, who is exploring her own sexuality after running to New York. I loved their relationship and it reminded me a lot about how my brother and I interact. I would love to see a novel just about Rocky.I think that Georgia was an important character. I know some people may be annoyed, like me, at how she is so determined to not lose her popularity. The ways in which she tries to hold onto it no matter what. However, her relationship with Pony was very real. After Georgia finds out that Pony is trans, she freaks out because she doesn't know what that means for her own sexuality. I think that this response (as a white cis female) is understandable. I loved her character growth and the journey she underwent ... but for a majority of the novel she annoyed me. This book deals with a lot of tough topics, and it may be difficult for some people to read. Triggers include sucideal ideation, hate crimes, transphobia, and homophobia. It gets graphic at times, but this book is about not shying away from the struggles of being trans in the modern day.As a straight white cis-female, I cannot speak to the representation, however this is an own-voices novel. I personally think that the authors own experiences shone through this novel and added raw depth. There is a lot of talk about top-surgery and binders, the fear of entering a bathroom, dealing with parental struggles. I learnt a lot through this novel about the queer community, and think that this would be an eye-opening read for a lot of people.I would love to see a review from an own-voices reviewer, so I will be keeping an eye out for that. But overall, I adored this novel and found that it had a profound emotional impact on me as a reader. I will be reading more of Tolby in the future.
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  • Ben Ace
    January 1, 1970
    Why did no one tell me about this sooner??!?!!?!
  • Sophie Elaina
    January 1, 1970
    I didn’t love the way this was written at the beginning, it was a little cheesy, but it did get better throughout and I did get used to it. But the first-person addressing the reader style isn’t a favourite of mine. At times it made scenes and monologues feel info dumpy and as though I as the reader was getting educated and lectured to. It was almost like a guide for anyone who doesn’t know what it’s like to be a trans teen. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it felt stilted to read and mad I didn’t love the way this was written at the beginning, it was a little cheesy, but it did get better throughout and I did get used to it. But the first-person addressing the reader style isn’t a favourite of mine. At times it made scenes and monologues feel info dumpy and as though I as the reader was getting educated and lectured to. It was almost like a guide for anyone who doesn’t know what it’s like to be a trans teen. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it felt stilted to read and made the book less enjoyable. The plot for this wasn’t my favourite. It’s kind of predictable and I’ve read a few books very similar and watched a million films with similar aspects. But it was enjoyable and just because I’ve read this kind of story before doesn’t mean it’s a bad story, if you know what I mean. It’s a preference and having a more diverse version of this kind of story made it worth the read.There are no where near enough books with transgender characters and I loved this book for the representation. But I can’t speak about how good the representation is of a trans character on a personal level. I haven’t seen enough own voices reviews yet so I’ll be looking out for them. But I can say there were instances where I felt as though the author was trying to be honest and heartfelt but it came across a little accusatory? As though certain decisions different people make regarding their safety and coming out are a bad thing. The main character going stealth and keeping the fact that they are trans from others they don’t know is written as though it’s a bad thing. I didn’t like this because everyone is different, not everyone will be in the same situation and not everything happens because of certain decisions people make. Sometimes people can be horrible and life can deal you a shitty hand. It’s okay to protect yourself in any way you want to. And the fact that the Pony’s best friend actually belittles him and makes him feel guilty for the choices he’s made was very uncomfortable to read. And it’s never addressed further than that, only in a way that portrays it as being wrong.I did think that the author did a good job at showing that no one should blame themselves for other people’s actions, the process of getting there was just a little too messy and uncomfortable to read. As a whole it was much more intense and hard-hitting than I was expecting and had been led to believe by the synopsis. There are some light-hearted scenes but mostly it follows Pony experiencing and reflecting on transphobic and abusive encounters. And trying to navigate around these while worrying what his friends and others think of him. In addition to having suicidal thoughts, which were used as a segue to teach the reader about statistics. As a whole I think a lot of things lend this to being a more educational read for the non-trans than for trans teens looking to represented. Overall I enjoyed this book and would recommend it, but make sure you’re in the right headspace for heavy topics. There is a very abusive scene that takes place in the school bathroom that was extremely graphic and hard to read, so please be wary reading this if you think that might be triggering for you.——-So so so excited for this!!! 👀👀👀Thank you so much to Harper Collins for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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  • mahana
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 starstws: transphobia (assault, bullying, deadnaming, slurs), lesbophobia rep: trans mc
  • Cassandra
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes you read a book that is just so heartfelt you know it was written from a place of love and understanding. This was one of those reads. Funny, smart, profound... All the good buzzwords. Completely worthy of the The Outsiders reference in the title. Read all about Pony and Georgia and fall in love just like I did. :) Sometimes you read a book that is just so heartfelt you know it was written from a place of love and understanding. This was one of those reads. Funny, smart, profound... All the good buzzwords. Completely worthy of the The Outsiders reference in the title. Read all about Pony and Georgia and fall in love just like I did. :)
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  • || Soph ||
    January 1, 1970
    *inhales* HIS NAME IS PONY OHEMGEEE
  • Ivy
    January 1, 1970
    Full review: https://bookpeopleteens.wordpress.com...”We only get one chance at life. I couldn’t spend another day stuck because I was worried about what people thought of me.”Overall, Stay Gold is a fresh and comforting read that left me smiling and satisfied. Although it rarely broached deep topics, the story had enough weight to tug on my heartstrings. A good read for queer youth and a great read for YA contemporary fans looking for a more realistic rom-com, Tobly McSmith’s debut is, like Pon Full review: https://bookpeopleteens.wordpress.com...”We only get one chance at life. I couldn’t spend another day stuck because I was worried about what people thought of me.”Overall, Stay Gold is a fresh and comforting read that left me smiling and satisfied. Although it rarely broached deep topics, the story had enough weight to tug on my heartstrings. A good read for queer youth and a great read for YA contemporary fans looking for a more realistic rom-com, Tobly McSmith’s debut is, like Pony, a stealthy fighter with plenty of heart. Rating: four cherry limeade Slushes/fiveFor fans of: The Last Best Story by Maggie Lehrman, Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert, The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson
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  • Leo
    January 1, 1970
    own voices own voices own voices own voices own voices own voices own voicestrans mc trans mc trans mc trans mc trans mc trans mc trans mc trans mc trans mc
  • JD
    January 1, 1970
    I don't often include reviews with my ratings but I found myself so conflicted after reading this book that I felt the need to say something and actually ended up writing a considerable amount. I don't know if it will add anything to the mix of reviews- my conflicted feelings are similar to those of others who noted the significant trigger warnings and problematic elements of this book - and I wanted to love every bit of this book. A YA book about a transman, written by a transman, with Outsider I don't often include reviews with my ratings but I found myself so conflicted after reading this book that I felt the need to say something and actually ended up writing a considerable amount. I don't know if it will add anything to the mix of reviews- my conflicted feelings are similar to those of others who noted the significant trigger warnings and problematic elements of this book - and I wanted to love every bit of this book. A YA book about a transman, written by a transman, with Outsiders references? What's there not to love?Unfortunately, much more than I expected. Please note as you move forward, that a lot of the trigger warnings noted by others will be present in this review, so be mindful of that as you progress.I would say my final rating is probably closer to 2.5 stars than 2 - but I felt I couldn't give a 3 - and the low score is mainly because of the problematic elements and trigger warnings, which I feel could have been mitigated, but were not because parts of the book - namely the ones where things could have slowed down to unpack the problematic messages being given and to explore them further in a way that would have given the message that these problematic elements are problematic rather than a way to create unity and equality - seemed to move strangely fast, while other parts of the book seemed unnecessarily long. Particularly the end, which is where I think there could have been some really amazing ways of addressing the problematic elements, came on so fast that there were times when I literally thought I'd missed a page or two and would pause and go back, only to see that it wasn't that I missed anything, things were just moving that quickly and becoming disjointed. One part that stood out to me in particular was the "pivotal moment" where our main character decides to out himself to the school because two lesbians were outed at the homecoming dance in a really awful way. One moment they're being outed, the next our main character is on the stage and announcing that he's transgender, after an entire book of wanting to be stealth and not wanting to be out. There's no internal dialogue going into that moment. There's no real weighing of the pros/cons of stepping forward or considering all of the elements that went into that choice. He's just up there and saying it, as though he teleported onto the stage.Which is one of the problematic elements - namely that there's this narrative throughout that trans people need to be out and open about their gender identity. Even though as a result of being out, the main character is the victim of a hate crime, that's still upheld as the right thing to do because, as you see in the ending, being the victim of a hate crime automatically brings your school together and creates support for the LGBTQA community. The entire book seems to frame this narrative of "If you're out and open, you're supporting the LGBTQA community but if you're going stealth or in the closet, that makes you selfish and damages the community." Even though the main character repeatedly says that it's unfair to put that responsibility on him and that it's up to each trans person to determine whether they are out or not, there's really no support for his position from external sources and given that he outs himself at the end - with significant consequences but also benefits because the community rallies behind him - that gives the message that trans people need to be out, regardless of the cost. I think this could have been avoided if there were multiple trans friends that the main character had, offering multiple perspectives on being stealth vs. being out, rather than it being just his one friend who pushed that agenda and then ultimately "won" that argument because of the ending. If it were framed more as a choice in the moment that the main character outed himself, where he'd considered all of the options and been supported in all of the options, I think that would have gone a long way in reducing how problematic that felt.I think what also really got me about the ending was just how fast it seemed and how quickly things became wrapped up in a bow within a sentence or two. Hillcrest went from being a place that did not seem inclusive or supportive, with multiple characters making all sorts of homophobic, transphobic, and other problematic remarks, to suddenly being incredibly supportive, all because of a hate crime. The fact that there had been those remarks made by others was just swept under the rug with basically a, "Yeah, we shouldn't have made jokes and wouldn't have if we known there were LGBT among us" which is super not cool because that 1) misses the fact that it's built into the culture of the school and 2) that's a shitty reason to not make those sorts of remarks. Then our main character's father went from being incredibly unsupportive, transphobic, and outright abusive to supporting the main character because he read some statistics on violence and suicide in the trans community and discovered that his own child had contemplated suicide. The fact that his child had been the victim of a hate crime didn't change his opinion at all but those statistics did. The suicide piece also felt very much swept under the rug, in that our main character is constantly thinking of suicide for the final 1/4th of the book, and that 1) no one around him seems to take him seriously when he brings that up or really even acknowledges that he's having those thoughts and 2) that those thoughts just seem to miraculously go away because of the main character's love interest writing an article that goes viral and increases support for him. There's not even a, "Wow, with all of this support, maybe things aren't so hopeless" moment. It's just that one second he's thinking he'd be better off dead and the next he's crowned homecoming king and everything is fine. Never mind that he was just the victim of a hate crime or that he can't bind for at least a year due to injuries received - and probably can't have top surgery for a significant time as well, even if the money is raised, due to those injuries - suddenly everything is fine at the end because he's been given some acceptance from the school and parents and people are doing a GoFundMe for his top surgery.I also definitely have issues with the hate crime being the turning point, which seems a really common thread in YA LGBTQA - and especially trans specific - literature. I think there's definitely space to explore hate crimes and the impact that has on people and from a writing standpoint, I can see how that becomes the climax of novels because it is so significant, but I'm also getting really tired of seeing stories about the LGBTQA community, where a hate crime or assault is the point that the main character grows or changes and those around them grown and change, so that everything is better moving forward. I would much rather be seeing a novel where the hate crime is the beginning - and off-screen because we don't need graphic depictions of that - and the climax is a different sort of pivotal moment. Especially in the rom-com subgenre where that's not needed at all and wouldn't be present in cishet rom-coms. I would much rather that the climax include the moment where the trans person has gender-affirming surgery or gets engaged to the love interest or even is crowned homecoming king/queen, after many trials and tribulations. It concerns me to have the hate crime as the pivotal moment because that seems to paint hate crimes in a somewhat positive light - like, since this happened, the main character gets what they were hoping for and the community is supportive and everything is good. It also doesn't give much time to process the aftermath because it happens in the climax, which, again, seems to diminish the significance of that event.I also did not particularly appreciate the entire part where the main character is hanging out with two of the people making really problematic homophobic and transphobic jokes and is all, "I'm with the boys" even though these two boys are incredibly misogynistic and overall gross. It kinda gave the message of, "To be a transman who passes, you need to buy into the most problematic elements of toxic masculinity." I would have really appreciated seeing the main character actually struggle with this experience of being around two people who are representing these worst elements and considering whether these are the people he wants to call his friends, rather than just having an occasional, "Oh, they were transphobic, that feels bad to me" moment or "I wish they wouldn't say things like that because it's not cool" and just go back to hanging out with them. Especially since these were the two characters who were forgiven because they acknowledged that they shouldn't have been making those sorts of jokes around members of the LGBTQA community - not because everything they said or did was shitty. It was actually even worse because they literally said, "Yeah, we thought you might be trans" when he outed himself, which makes those jokes 100x worse than they already were (which, spoiler alert, was already pretty freaking bad). It would have been nice to see the main character build other, healthy connections with guys who are not jerks and gross and to be able to find his place within the community and to learn that to be a man, he doesn't need to buy into toxic masculinity.That piece does worry me because I don't want that to be the message that younger trans people are getting. Someone whose opinion I value deeply once told me - "I see transmen as special because they have something different than cisgender men because of the experiences they've had in life and the perspective that they can bring to the masculine community." I would have liked to see more of that, with our main character discovering that he doesn't have to be stereotypical or buy into that toxic BS and can be the type of person who improves the masculine community, not just adds to the worst parts.And finally, also, with our love interest, she goes from saying she could never date a trans person and that she wouldn't want to be seen as a lesbian by being with our main character, to suddenly being incredibly supportive, all because he publicly outs himself to the school. Suddenly all of those feelings that she had change and she loves him 100% and is putting all of her support behind him. There are certainly hints throughout that she has feelings for him underneath of that transphobia and bigotry but the catalyst for her change feels really inauthentic and the fact that our main character is immediately like, "Cool, we're together now" also felt rushed and uncomfortable. As a whole, this review was a hard one to write because I wanted to like this book so badly and there were parts that I did. In particular, I hate writing it because I want to support trans authors - it means so much to me, as a trans person, to see that more trans voices are being put out there in the media because I never had that representation growing up. But I felt so conflicted and uncomfortable after reading this book that I really felt the need to say something. I don't necessarily think that the author intentionally put these messages out there but as a reader, this was what I came out of it with.I'm certainly going to still follow Tobly McSmith's work - I'm always open to second chances. But I couldn't let this book sit without commenting on my reactions.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    did... did anyone say druck season three
  • Fanna
    January 1, 1970
    - ownvoices transgender rep- coming of age rom-com, compared to To All the Boys I've Loved Before - alternate pov - opposites attract tropeTHIS debut novel will definitely be anticipated by me with all my heart! - ownvoices transgender rep- coming of age rom-com, compared to To All the Boys I've Loved Before - alternate pov - opposites attract tropeTHIS debut novel will definitely be anticipated by me with all my heart!
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  • Akelly
    January 1, 1970
    Everybody get ready for this new YA release! An exploration of how we all withhold information and essential parts of ourselves to fit in and experience an uncomplicated existence. The characters were believable, relatable and fun to follow. Also my girlfriend was proud of me for reading something that didn’t leave me crying or having an existential crises for once ✌🏻
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  • Kris
    January 1, 1970
    Great new book by a trans-man author. It is exciting to hear an authentic voice which will touch many readers. Tobly McSmith writes the story of a trans-man who is starting a new school. He uses his name, Pony and the students don't know any different. We see what it is like to be afraid to use the restroom at school among other challenges. He and a cheerleader fall in love. His knows he must tell her the truth but doesn't want to lose her. He is also under pressure from the community to take a Great new book by a trans-man author. It is exciting to hear an authentic voice which will touch many readers. Tobly McSmith writes the story of a trans-man who is starting a new school. He uses his name, Pony and the students don't know any different. We see what it is like to be afraid to use the restroom at school among other challenges. He and a cheerleader fall in love. His knows he must tell her the truth but doesn't want to lose her. He is also under pressure from the community to take a stand when what he really wants is to blend in. The story pivots between points of view between Pony and Georgia. It is a story of love and acceptance. When people speak their truth, it can save lives. I highly recommend it.
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  • Jessie
    January 1, 1970
    This book gets (and deserves) all the stars!! This book deeply moved me. It changed my world. I got a signed ARC while attending Winter Institute in January and I had the pleasure of meeting Tobly. I sincerely hope he writes more books and continues to make the world a better place.
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  • Shawna Turner
    January 1, 1970
    So, I feel this author is the person who harassed SE Hinton because she said her characters, one being Ponyboy, Pony for short was not transgender. This author has actually committed copyright infringement. This author could have very well used different names as his characters and if you google Stay Gold, the Outsiders pops up always. It is forever associated with that book. If this author had a story and a statement to make, they should have used other names etc. I feel they chose the names of So, I feel this author is the person who harassed SE Hinton because she said her characters, one being Ponyboy, Pony for short was not transgender. This author has actually committed copyright infringement. This author could have very well used different names as his characters and if you google Stay Gold, the Outsiders pops up always. It is forever associated with that book. If this author had a story and a statement to make, they should have used other names etc. I feel they chose the names of the main character and the Book title to poke at SE Hinton. Why? If she decides to take you to court, she will win.
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  • rachel ☾
    January 1, 1970
    ◯ Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Blog • Goodreads • Twitter • Instagram • The Book Depository ◯ Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Blog • Goodreads • Twitter • Instagram • The Book Depository
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  • Starr ❇✌❇
    January 1, 1970
    I received a DRC from Edelweiss TW: transphobia, dead naming, lesbophobia, suicidal thoughts3.8For Pony, a new school is the perfect fresh start. When he came out as trans, he got a lot of attention, some of it bad, some of it just annoying. Now, he can just be Pony. And maybe even cheerleader Georgia's boyfriend. The only problem is, he hasn't told anyone at school that he's trans yet.This is another matter of reading an educational book and appreciating the education its attempting to give, I received a DRC from Edelweiss TW: transphobia, dead naming, lesbophobia, suicidal thoughts3.8For Pony, a new school is the perfect fresh start. When he came out as trans, he got a lot of attention, some of it bad, some of it just annoying. Now, he can just be Pony. And maybe even cheerleader Georgia's boyfriend. The only problem is, he hasn't told anyone at school that he's trans yet.This is another matter of reading an educational book and appreciating the education its attempting to give, while also being wildly not the target demographic so I can't day confidently whether or not it succeeds. However, the main goal of this book is not simply educating cis people, but to be the kind of book the author would have wanted to exist when he was younger. My answer to that, no matter how many times I hear different authors say it, is always that that's valid, and honorable, and I love the fact that it isn't actually some new, controversial book. I see a lot of people comparing it to If I Were Your Girl (which, cards on the table, I have not read), and though this is a criticism, I just see it as tangible growth.Again, since I'm not the demographic, I have to decide whether to prioritize the educational merit versus my own enjoyment, and I'm definitely leaning more towards the education, which is mostly what impacted my rating.Looking only at Pony, I appreciate that this isn't a book about the pain of coming out to yourself, which is an important topic but also one that has been covered more often, but instead about your Identity and how it fits into your identity. Going personal for one moment, I hear people talking about people who identify somewhere on the queer spectrum about "putting themselves in boxes", or "making it their whole identity", etc, etc etc. Ignoring how incredibly frustrating and surface level that is, I think that this book works with that in a very effective way. Pony is the epitome of not doing any of that. He knows he's a boy and he's living as a boy, and though he joined a trans network in the beginnings of his self-discovery he has no apparent interest in being political about it. He doesn't want to be The Trans Kid, he doesn't want to draw any attention to it, he doesn't even want to post an article online that mentions anything like it. And that gets him nowhere. Because when you are this identity, you have to protect yourself by protecting your community. You may not want to be political, but the world makes your existence political. You may want to be the easy going, laughs instead of being offended, non-in your face queer person, but that will not help you, it will not protect you, and it will not make the world and easier place for you to exist in.Okay, educational rant aside.Pony is a somewhat likeable character, as much as a lens can be. I like his very fun sister, Rocky, a lot, and his parents are unfortunately very realistic. I also really like Pony's best friend, Max, both as a general character and as a different view into the trans community. The addition of Rocky also felt like a nice reminder to the closeted or simply bored to death readers that there is a huge world out there waiting for you, and you can go be accepted and crazy and do whatever you want as long as you actually take the plunge and live the kind of life you want to live.The romance is just okay for me, though there are parts where it is sweet. Their chemistry isn't crazy, but it's not impossible that they would like each other. I expected Pony to have more of an effect on Georgia, honestly, and if he had then maybe their relationship would have seemed more real to me.I do have an issue with the writing in this book. It's not an over-all issue, but effected the story for me enough that I have to mention it. The intro to this book made me 100% I was going to hate it. Jumping in with weird stage directions does not give me the impression that this is a cool character with an interest in film, it makes me feel like this is a new author writing a very obnoxious stock character. Now, Pony did somewhat grow on me, but he also is indeed a bit of a stock character. His trans identity and his love of film are basically his only traits. So I was pretty much right with that one, and if I'd known it, I may not have wanted to continue.The beginning also has some weird POV switches that were confusing and unnecessary. Thankfully this doesn't continue in the story, but it did make me doubt the author to the point where I was always waiting for something else weird to happen with his writing style. (Which did happen a few times down the line).Georgia, to be frank, I hated. She's vapid, she's part manic pixie dream girl, part bigot, I just had 0 interest in her and 0 empathy for her. The romance would have hooked me more if I had ever wanted Pony to be with her because even though Pony isn't the most 3 dimensional, Georgia is way worse, and part of her characterization is transphobia.I recognize, also, that not all people are going to react well to learning someone is trans, and some people are going to need time for it to sink in, but in order to show that and still have the character be likeable, you need to be careful with how its handled. The end result for me was a vague disgust with Georgia that never went away.Also, there's a flatness to the context the characters are in. Politically its fine, the side story of the actor is kind of odd, but the general background is overdone and unexplored. The characters are transphobic as the default, which sucks, and there's that classic "cheerleader & jock run the school" trope that, if it was ever real, hasn't been for a decade at the very least.This book is not perfect. This book is not a masterpiece. But it is an ownvoices story about a trans teen, dealing with real life problems and with showing trans people existing without an asterisk or a promised bad ending. And we deserve that!
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  • ReadingwithAmy
    January 1, 1970
    A huge thank you to HCCFrenzy and Edelweiss for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review!TW: Transphobia, Homophobia, Misgendering, Suicidal Thoughts, Outting, Gender Dysphoria, Harassment, Violence. Before I get started on my review I want to say that my voice isn’t the one to listen to. This isn’t a book or character that I identify with and my thoughts on this representation and issues explored are only from an ally’s stand point. Because of this I am choosing not to give t A huge thank you to HCCFrenzy and Edelweiss for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review!TW: Transphobia, Homophobia, Misgendering, Suicidal Thoughts, Outting, Gender Dysphoria, Harassment, Violence. Before I get started on my review I want to say that my voice isn’t the one to listen to. This isn’t a book or character that I identify with and my thoughts on this representation and issues explored are only from an ally’s stand point. Because of this I am choosing not to give this book a star rating. Stay Gold is a story following a senior named Pony. Pony is entering a new school for his senior year and after having a rough time at his last school for being transgender he decides to not come out at his school. Pony’s sister and other trans friends don’t support this decision and throughout the point his friend is very adamant he come out. During Pony’s first day he meets IT girl Georgia, she’s the hot cheerleader who used to date the star football player. At this high school cheerleaders and football players rule the school, if you are one of these things you are automatically popular and held to a very particular standard. Georgia doesn’t love being a cheerleader, she never fit in and so when she entered high school she wanted to become someone new. Georgia isn’t the type of person to get close to people and is constantly using elaborate stories to hide from having to tell the truth to anyone. Georgia and Pony start to grow close when they are put into almost every class together and soon their friendship grows to more. This book was being pitched for fans of To All The Boys I’ve Love Before which I think was a wrong approach for this book. Going into this book you need to know it isn’t a fluffy YA romance, it deals with some pretty heavy topics so if you need to definitely check out all trigger warnings before going in. The topics in this book are extremely relevant and valid. We need to continue to show trans people in our books, movies and tv shows. It’s so important for trans youth to be able to pick up a story and see themselves in it. I just wanted to point out that though this book has its romance it is also very heavy. Alright let’s start with what I enjoyed about this book. I really liked Pony as a main character. He was such a fresh character and I really enjoyed reading his perspectives, I loved his obsession with movies and his relationship with his sister. My heart went out to Pony, seeing his pain and learning just how expensive it is for trans people to get surgery in the US blew my mind. Pony also doesn’t have the most supportive family but I did adore his sister Rocky! She’s the big sister we all want, the cool badass one that takes crap from no one and loves fiercely. Rocky is the person I would want on my side no matter what. I also really adored Pony’s job and the characters he meets while doing it. Pony takes a position where he is helping to pack away an actors life who doesn’t have much longer to live. It was giving me some “Evelyn Hugo” vibes. I will say even though I didn’t like Georgia as a character I did like seeing her banter with Pony, the dialogue between these two felt very natural and humorous at times making it a very enjoyable experience. Unfortunately this wasn’t a perfect read for me and there were somethings that I just did not enjoy. First was Georgia, I just could not get behind her character, I know she is meant to be flawed and she is an imperfect high schooler, but I found that this didn’t excuse some of her behaviour. Georgia said and did horrible things towards Pony and her redemption just wasn’t enough for me, she didn’t have to work for it and I just thought it wasn’t good enough to justify her actions. Alongside Georgia I also was put off by Max who is suppose to be Pony’s best friend. Max is constantly forcing Pony to come out at his highschool, Max had a very different situation to Pony, they go to a liberal arts school, have accepting friends and family which is something Pony doesn’t have. Max was a terrible friend most of the time and never took a minute to see it through Pony’s eyes. I know this book wants the message to come across as “Be yourself” but it just didn’t seem that way? No one was respecting Pony’s wishes, if someone isn’t ready to come out to the world then you need to support that and not force them into something they aren’t ready for. I think this will be a very important book for so many people, and as I previously mentioned I am not the right voice to listen to. I would highly recommend checking out reviews from some own voices reviewers. My views on this book are very divided, and I just don’t feel like eating this book would be far. I appreciated some aspects of this book but there are some issues that affected my rating. Thank you again to HCCFrenzy and Edelweiss.
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  • melissa
    January 1, 1970
    I spent too many hours thinking about whether I should give this one or two stars. Turns out I'd be too nice if I gave it two stars. All the things I enjoyed about this were brutally canceled by the things I hated. I was so excited about this book when I found out it had a transgender mc and it ended up being my biggest disappointment of the year so far.First off, the pros: the cover. That was the only thing I liked.The cons: oh boy, I don't even know what I should start with. (view spoiler)[Geo I spent too many hours thinking about whether I should give this one or two stars. Turns out I'd be too nice if I gave it two stars. All the things I enjoyed about this were brutally canceled by the things I hated. I was so excited about this book when I found out it had a transgender mc and it ended up being my biggest disappointment of the year so far.First off, the pros: the cover. That was the only thing I liked.The cons: oh boy, I don't even know what I should start with. (view spoiler)[Georgia is one of the main characters, Pony's love interest. We get to know her a little at the beginning and we find out she's 'the popular cheerleader who actually has a very lonely life and dreams that don't involve cheerleading at all'. We're supposed to feel empathy for her, but that was nearly impossible. She was supposed to be the person who supported Pony the most and ended up being one of the biggest transphobes in the book. She falls for him and is the biggest sweetheart until of course, he comes out as transgender to her. It's valid if she needed some time to process that, I'm not judging her for that, but she ruined everything by calling him a liar for not coming out sooner (he didn't even lie about anything, he IS a man?????) and comparing him to the ex-boyfriend that cheated on her. Are you sure these are the same things, Georgia, when he didn't feel comfortable or safe to come out in a small town because he could be bullied and harassed? You're probably thinking: oh, but she'll regret that later and realize that what she said in the heat of the moment isn't what she actually meant to say. WELL, YOU'RE IN FOR A RIDE THEN! She never actually shows she's sorry for saying all of that and doesn't develop at all. There's no redemption that doesn't sound extremely rushed or that makes any sense. And that's not even the only time she said stupid shit! The second time Pony confesses his feelings for her, even if they're mutual, she rejects him just because he's trans and tells him that she can't risk ruining her image at school. And when you think she's going to apologize, she never properly does. She only tells him 'I had some stuff to figure out. But that was then and this is now'. Well, you're forgiven then! What kind of excuse is that? Does the author think this is going to make up for every transphobic shit she said throughout the book? She spent more time thinking about how him being trans will ruin her image than thinking about the guy she's supposed to have a crush on? The chemistry between them was nonexistent. Now, the thing that probably got on my nerves the most: Max. He's Pony's best friend, also a transgender man. He's out and proud, studies in a big school with many students in the LGBTQ+ community and has nothing to hide because he doesn't need to. He spends 90% of the book pressuring Pony into coming out to everybody, to the point he blackmails him and stops being friends with him because he didn't want to risk his safety by doing that. Pony felt so pressured that he ended up coming out in the middle of a prom, in front of everybody. He also did that to protect two students that were outed earlier and show them that they were not alone, but you can't deny he also felt really pressured and probably would have waited more until he was more comfortable if it wasn't for that. On the same night, when he ends up being beaten by some bullies in the bathroom, Max finally takes responsibility for his actions, which is the least he could do. But instead of recognizing how toxic he was, Pony just pretends nothing happened and keeps being his best friend, even though he's partially guilty for Pony even being there. It's so easy to tell him how proud you are and how brave he is when he would have many other opportunities to come out without breaking a few ribs, isn't it? Honorable mention: some of Georgia's friends, also cheerleaders, acted like the word 'lesbian' was the most offensive thing you could ever call someone.Overall, Pony and Georgia didn't have any development or chemistry because Georgia spent way more time thinking about how him being trans would affect her social status, Pony's best friend is a selfish and self-centered guy who blackmails him into coming out, and the message of the book was pretty much 'if you're not out, you're not proud and you're not gonna be happy'. And in case you're in the LGBTQ+ community and you're not out yet, please don't believe that. (hide spoiler)]You can be proud of yourself even though you're not out yet. Please make sure you're comfortable and safe enough when you decide to come out. Don't let anybody else decide the right time to do it, that's up to YOU. You are not alone.
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  • Charlotte
    January 1, 1970
    Pony is a transgender young man on his way to a new high school. He sees it as his opportunity to start fresh as the man he’s always known that he is. On the very first day as Pony walks up the stairs to the front door of his new school, he spots Georgia through the crowd. Georgia is a cheerleader and is beginning her senior year of not-dating in her uniform surrounded by her friends. When their eyes lock the direction of both of their lives changes.This novel is a love story but it’s also about Pony is a transgender young man on his way to a new high school. He sees it as his opportunity to start fresh as the man he’s always known that he is. On the very first day as Pony walks up the stairs to the front door of his new school, he spots Georgia through the crowd. Georgia is a cheerleader and is beginning her senior year of not-dating in her uniform surrounded by her friends. When their eyes lock the direction of both of their lives changes.This novel is a love story but it’s also about learning to be who you are and being open and authentic. There are so many influences and pressure in High school and they’re not always good or bad. I felt like this was a pretty accurate representation of being a Senior and struggling to fit in. As a Cisgender woman, I can’t speak to the issue that Pony deals with as a trans man, but it read as authentic to me.In the midst of all the growth and change that happens in your senior year of high school, Pony is dealing with all kinds of pressure. Pony’s home life is far from perfect. His mother is quietly supportive, his sister is fiercely protective and vocal on his behalf. Pony’s father doesn’t accept his son at all. At times he is hurtful and emotionally abusive. He refuses to call Pony by his real name and deadnames him.When I was reading Pony’s POV in this novel, I could definitely feel the pain and hurt that was caused by him misgendering. McSmith has really captured the emotions and turmoil of everyday things that most people take for granted. The first time Pony uses the bathroom in his new high school he is almost frozen in fear when someone confronts him about why he is there. It turns out that the encounter is perfectly innocent but there are a lot of instances of this during the novel that clearly communicates the impact of everyday things on someone who is living with a fear of being misgendered… or something far more violent.There are several really important themes/ issues explored in this novel. Perhaps the most important and touching is the timing of letting someone know that you are transgender. Who do you tell? When do you tell people? In this novel, when Pony begins a relationship with Georgia it’s as though there is an invisible timeline. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to determine the “correct” time to tell someone that you are trans. Part of me feels as though no one should ever have to reveal that if they don’t want to – but obviously when you’re talking about a romantic relationship it’s important to be open.Interestingly, Pony also deals with pressure from his friend Max. Max is a vibrant character, very political, and is constantly putting pressure on Pony to “come out” at school and be more vocal for the rights of trans people everywhere. But, this is still pressure! And it’s still a heavyweight on Pony’s shoulders. Is it wrong to want to just be “average”? Is it wrong to just be yourself and not want to speak up and out?Ultimately, I think that many of the themes in this book boil down to figuring out what is right for you! We all have the power to decide for ourselves when we reveal things… or even if we do. We have the right to exist and be happy without having to explain or justify. Sadly, for Pony – things culminate in a violent act that shakes the foundations of his beliefs.For her part, Georgia is also dealing with an event in her past that has left her with little ability to trust men. She was betrayed and her privacy was violated in a severe way … things I’m sure that many young people deal with on a regular basis. While I thought she might have been a bit quick at times to change her mind about her feelings and her actions… I did think she was a pleasant character.This book is written by Toby McSmith who is a self-identified Own-voices author. I want to acknowledge that because I think that books about trans characters written by trans authors are very important! I wanted to take the time to support own-voices authors and the publishers who get their work out into the world.
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  • Chloe
    January 1, 1970
    *Spoiler free*This was a book with a trans main character, who is going to a new school and wants to keep his identity under wraps. He also develops a crush on a cheerleader and she feels the same connection he does. I practically pounced on this book when I heard about it. Honestly, I heard it had a trans main character and that's all I needed to want to read it, everything else was just a major bonus. Trigger warnings: transphobia, homophobia, transphobic attack, suicidal ideation, implied par *Spoiler free*This was a book with a trans main character, who is going to a new school and wants to keep his identity under wraps. He also develops a crush on a cheerleader and she feels the same connection he does. I practically pounced on this book when I heard about it. Honestly, I heard it had a trans main character and that's all I needed to want to read it, everything else was just a major bonus. Trigger warnings: transphobia, homophobia, transphobic attack, suicidal ideation, implied parental abuseI hate saying that I didn't like books, but I wasn't the biggest fan of this one. It wasn't inherently bad and I don't want to turn anybody off from reading it. It just wasn't up my alley.There were multiple things that made me uncomfortable. Pony's deadname is mentioned multiple times. Georgia was kind of a jerk about Pony being trans (though she did come around). Pony becomes friends with two guy guys who are sort of just gross. There were way too many "your mom" jokes and other things along those lines. Pony likes them because he feels like one of the guys, which I can appreciate! Though, I think there were better ways for him to get that feeling then to hang out with two guys who say inappropriate things all the time.Pony's friend cuts off contact from him when he won't be out and proud at his new school. That was the biggest thing for me. There was this whole thing about how Pony had to be out and proud because there needs to be more visibility for trans people. Sure, I get visibility, but I don't agree with forcing people to out themselves when they don't feel comfortable. Sometimes it's not safe for them, but that doesn't make them any less trans or any less queer. It really rubbed me the wrong way when his friend decided to cut him off because he didn't agree with Pony hiding his identity. Someone also made a big speech about how queer people need to be more visible and how allies need to be there for them. Again, for me, I think queer people should exist how they feel comfortable and safe existing. Sometimes that's quietly and sometimes that's loudly, but neither of them is wrong.Another thing I didn't love (but not something that made me uncomfortable!) was a quick switch in emotional thinking. A character is at the lowest of the lows and then there's this sudden spark at they're out of it. I sort of get the inciting incident, but their feelings felt a bit more serious than something they could spark out of.Alright, moving onto the things I did like! I really liked Pony's character. He was such a sweet dude and I really liked reading his POV. He's a bit awkward and fully adorable. And I did really love reading about another trans main character. I think that's something that will always be special for me. I loved reading about his journey, his feelings, and how he thinks. He struggles, since people in his life aren't fully accepting, but he also has people in his life who love him for who he is. I liked reading about his highs and lows and how he handled everything that was thrown at him.I wasn't sure about Georgia for a bit, though I think I liked her. But in a more "I can appreciate her character from afar, though I don't fully relate to her" kind of way. She was an alright character and I did like her in the end. She's funny, bright, and crafts ridiculous stories that I thought were brilliant.Georgia and Pony are what saved this book for me. They were great characters and they made me interested to keep reading, even when there were things I didn't like.I know it sounds like I hated this book, but please don't take this as me telling you not to read it. I'm sure there will be people who love it and I'm sure this book will mean everything to some people. There were just some things that rubbed me the wrong way. There also wasn't quite enough things I loved to overshadow them. It was a solid book, it just wasn't for me.
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  • Seb
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes my face hurt from smiling so much, sometimes I could barely read the words on the page through tears, and mostly, I had a little of both going on at the same time. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced review copy of Stay Gold and I immediately sat down to devour it, because I loved the concept so much. I was not disappointed. It wasn't all sunshine and romcom gold, but boy oh boy was it satisfying. Fans of Openly Straight *CW: transphobic language/attitudes, (view spoiler)[ an Sometimes my face hurt from smiling so much, sometimes I could barely read the words on the page through tears, and mostly, I had a little of both going on at the same time. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced review copy of Stay Gold and I immediately sat down to devour it, because I loved the concept so much. I was not disappointed. It wasn't all sunshine and romcom gold, but boy oh boy was it satisfying. Fans of Openly Straight *CW: transphobic language/attitudes, (view spoiler)[ an on-screen violent hate crime against Pony near the end (hide spoiler)]Now. I jotted down the first moment I cried from this and it was just ten pages in. Ten! I was just so overwhelmed by how amazing Pony was portrayed and how realistic of a trans character he was. He doesn't have the magically accepting parents and his transition handed on a silver platter, but he's also not all doom and gloom either. He was just... real. And as a trans guy myself, I could see myself so clearly in Pony, both in how he interacts with the world and how he experiences his dysphoria. But Stay Gold isn't all just about the trans experience. Mostly, it's a love story between a boy and a girl and the boy just happens to be trans. It's the perfect representation, without the usual 'put a label and don't acknowledge the impacts of it' that stories that try to go for the 'character just happens to be xyz' usually have. Pony owns my heart, but unfortunately, his is taken by Georgia. What to say about Georgia? She' s the perfect high school love interest, the pretty and popular cheerleader. But, of course, she's more than just looks. She dreams of writing and being more than just the perfect Texas cheerleader, but she's too scared of breaking her carefully crafted image to let herself to do that. You can imagine how well dating a trans guy fits into that plan. She's far from perfect. Sometimes she says some ignorant things, but usually in the non-malicious way that people outside the community do and she's open to learning. My favorite thing about Georgia is thinking about how much her character will help future readers learn. The Georgias of the world, people who are loving and open minded but haven't had the chance to be exposed to different worlds yet, will learn a lot from her. And her and Pony? Absolutely adorable. I was rooting for them so hard every step of the way, especially as Georgia learned more and more. The scene in the VR arcade where (view spoiler)[ she kisses him to not learn his deadname? (hide spoiler)] I cried and made an inhuman sound loud enough that both my cats came to check on me. No one in this story is totally perfect. They all lie and mess up and sometimes say terrible things out of ignorance. But they're all human and they learn along the way. Everyone grows throughout this and mostly for the better. Georgia learns how to be herself and Pony learns that there's a difference between wanting to fit in and hiding who he truly is. Everyone gets their cliche, high school romance happy ending and you know what? I couldn't be happier. We deserve it. Five stars. Endless stars. All the stars. I'll be coming back to this as my comfort read in the future, no doubt about it.
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  • Ashley Collins
    January 1, 1970
    This book was MAGIC. I laughed, I cried, and I loved every single second. For a debut novel, this book is STUNNING. Tobly McSmith is far from a novice writer (he's best known for his The Office and Friends musical parodies), and it shows in every single page. Stay Gold follows Pony, a trans boy who's starting fresh when he moves to a new school, a start that includes no one knowing he's trans at all. After being bullied at his old school, Pony just wants a normal, average life, one where he does This book was MAGIC. I laughed, I cried, and I loved every single second. For a debut novel, this book is STUNNING. Tobly McSmith is far from a novice writer (he's best known for his The Office and Friends musical parodies), and it shows in every single page. Stay Gold follows Pony, a trans boy who's starting fresh when he moves to a new school, a start that includes no one knowing he's trans at all. After being bullied at his old school, Pony just wants a normal, average life, one where he doesn't have to shout his gender identity from the rooftops. One where he's just what he's always felt like: a normal boy. Things start out great for Pony when it seems like no one calls him out as something he's not or makes him feel like he doesn't belong. But as Pony gets closer to Georgia, a cheerleader who can't find it in herself to tell the truth to anyone - least of all herself - their developing relationship and feelings for each other force each other to come to some honest truths about each other and about their real selves. I sincerely feel like there was no moment in this book that wasn't well-planned, thoughtful, and real. Coming from an Own Voices author, McSmith displays what it is like for so many trans teens in America right now, whether they are struggling to be accepted in society, struggling to make their body feel like the one they belong in, or just struggling to accept themselves. Pony's story is moving, heartwarming, and important. This is certainly a novel that's going to become a staple and marker in (YA) queer literature and an example for those that follow. McSmith is also doing excellent work by using his debut novel to set up the Stay Gold foundation, a foundation whose goal is to support trans and gender-nonconforming individuals who want to transition physically. The foundation will launch with the debut of Stay Gold, so if the story moves you, consider donating. https://www.stonewallfoundation.org/a...The novel has a wonderful blend of humor alongside the coming-of-age realizations and struggles. Pony is a fantastic narrator, and Georgia, too, is a great access point for readers who perhaps feel they're not as educated on LGBTQIA+ issues as they'd like to be, or who want to learn. The novel does a great job of educating without patronizing, for teens of any gender or sexual identity. McSmith has done the trans community a great service by writing a novel with love and care alongside honesty, one which demonstrates the power in owning our identities and speaking our truth no matter what lies ahead. If it isn't already, Stay Gold should absolutely be on your TBR this year. It's one you just can't miss. I received an ARC of this book via a Goodreads giveaway campaign in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Goodreads and HarperTeen for providing the ARC!
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  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.TW: suicidal thoughts, depression, gender dysphoria, outting, violence/hate crime, homophobic slurs, homophobia/transphobia, misgendering, binding, disapproving parent Rep: straight transgender male, a pansexual side character, unicorn/polyamory, trans woman & trans girl, and a non-binary side character. Wow. In my four years of knowing my trans identity, not once have I picked up a book where I I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.TW: suicidal thoughts, depression, gender dysphoria, outting, violence/hate crime, homophobic slurs, homophobia/transphobia, misgendering, binding, disapproving parent Rep: straight transgender male, a pansexual side character, unicorn/polyamory, trans woman & trans girl, and a non-binary side character. Wow. In my four years of knowing my trans identity, not once have I picked up a book where I've felt the most represented. I've read so many stories of trans male main characters in YA specifically where they're gay or bisexual and as a straight, trans guy I've appreciated the representation but actually having a book that represents all of me was an experience I'll cherish forever. It was SO validating. Pony is starting at a new school [Hillcrest] after his father is stationed in Addison, TX for the military. Pony is pre-t but passes pretty well at his new school despite some misgendering. He plans to go stealth - meaning he doesn't tell anyone he's trans and just passes as a cisgender guy. He had so many of the same thoughts that I have daily mainly due to dysphoria and it was so accurate it scared me at times, haha. Pony meets a girl at his new school, Georgia who is a cheerleader at Hillcrest. It's love at first sight when he sees her in the halls on his first day at school and he makes it his mission to get to know her. I was rooting for Pony all the way from when he made friends with two cis-gender guys at school and going on a date/getting Georgia's number. It feels so validating and exciting to read a book about a trans guy getting the girl and the conversation about how dating is hard as a trans person. Stay Gold poses the argument and starts the conversation about how it can be dangerous to be stealth and how trans visibility needs to be supported and spread by allies and the trans community. As someone who isn't proud of their trans identity, I related to Pony SOOOOOO much especially during the scenes with his friend, Max who is proud of his trans identity. This book shows how not every trans story is the same because it's not! I really enjoyed the other plotline about Pony getting a job cleaning out Ted London, a former Hollywood actor's house to save up for top surgery. This book was so important and talked about the trans experience brilliantly. As I said, I've never been so represented in a book before. I swore Tobly McSmith wrote my biography because everything was so accurate to my own experience. The bathroom scenes? SPOT ON. So so accurate. This book gives me so much hope for the future of trans literature and media. THIS is why we need #ownvoices stories because we're such an underrepresented community. I loved everything about this book please PLEASE read trans voices and this book.
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