*This book was provided by Harper 360.
I had been so excited when i saw Stay Gold appear in my mail a few months ago. It’s own voice written and about a trangender boy moving school and having to deal with the struggle of choosing to out himself or keep trying to pass with no-one knowing.
I love books with trangender main characters because it’s a huge part of LGBTQ+ that is rarely discussed in books, and there are so many aspects of it to explore. Stay Gold is about Pony, and his move to a new school after his father changes jobs. Pony chooses to not tell anyone at school that he is transgender, instead tries to pass and hope he’s not outted. That is until he falls in love with the most popular cheerleader.
I have to admit early on, i didn’t like this book. And i didn’t like this book due to the characters. Or a single character. Georgia, Pony’s love interest, was not a nice person, and not a nice person to read about. She’s treated as a saint throughout the book, and even at the end is classed as a hero, which honestly is incorrect. The fact that this book is split between her point of view and Pony’s kind of ruined it for me. If the book was completely from Pony’s point of view, i think i’d have loved it.
There is excellent transgender representation from Pony and his conversations with students, family and friends, there is also plenty of excellent LGBTQ+ representation throughout the book. This was probably the only thing i truly enjoyed about the book and what was done well. Pony was mature and acted his age for this book.
Georgia i found to be incredibly self centred and childish. I would have accepted it if there was some character growth by the end of the book, but there was not. There was just Georgia taking the spotlight for no reason at all. That mixed with Georgia’s frankly backwards idea of ‘lying’ and leading people on, she never tried to learn about transgender rights or what was happening with Pony. Most of all, said some pretty dumb things such as she’d never speak to him again if Pony didn’t tell her his dead name.
Whereas i’m sure there are a lot of people like Georgia in the world, it would have been much more important to see some character growth from her at the end. It sort of made the whole book pointless to the point she learnt nothing.
There were a few loose ends for me. Such as Pony’s high school friends making offensive comments and no consequences to their friendship, and most of all, a loved character not having their story-line finished.
Honestly i hoped i’d really love this book, and Pony’s parts i adored. His sister is excellent, his thoughts are brilliant and he’s everything that should be represented in YA LGBTQ+ at the moment. But when that’s outweighed by the rest of the book sounding like someone else has written it, it’s hard to overcome that dislike.