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I received a copy of this book through Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.
I didn't really know anything about the book going into it. The summary on the back cover sounded interesting enough. Once I started reading, I was really confused. The back cover says Jonathan's parents split up, then his mother vanishes and later transitions into a man. So reading this, I assumed Jonathan was raised by his father. It took forever for me to figure out he was raised by a lesbian couple who then separated (one of whom transitions into a man). The summary wasn't wrong, but was rather vague. The family dynamics were very unclear and confusing to start. Even I, as someone who comes from a "non-traditional" family had to reread sections to figure it all out. It was such an easy fix, it seemed silly to start out so vaguely.
Once I got over that bump, I was ready for the book to get good. Unfortunately, that never happened. "Moving forward sideways like a crab" is the beautiful idea of telling a story from a roundabout way, focusing on all of the surrounding details. This is a great concept, but makes for a very drawn out and dull read.
At one point, Sydney states, "of course one wants relief after suspense, and I must admit that in a life like mine, there seems to be constant suspense and little relief, even now" (187). This pretty much sums up the book. There is so much buildup and it really doesn't lead anywhere. Nothing amazing or profound happens. By the end, the layout is pretty predictable. It ends right about where you expect it to, with little actually occurring. Yes, there is some emotional stuff and relationship stuff, but it was pretty boring.
Also, Jonathan himself was a very irritating character. I couldn't get over how whiny, self-centered, and petty he was. I just kept wanting to slap him and shout, "It's not that big of a deal! Chill out!" He seemed so overdramatic all the time.
There were also moments that felt unrealistic. At one point, some of Sydney's friends visit the house. Jonathan overreacts (big surprise) and starts freaking out, babbling on in the narrative, comparing it to a circus and saying other transphobic things. Then he passes out, one of the visitors is nice to him, and he magically is not transphobic anymore. I'm glad he changed, but it came about so suddenly and awkwardly that it didn't feel real.
Boring book. I bumped it up to 2-stars, because I think it had an interesting idea, but horrible execution.