Book 38: Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

When I first finished this book, I gave it 3-stars, but I think I was just being nice because it was a book with a trans character. While lying awake last night (not because of the book but because I just cannot sleep), I truly thought about what I had just read. I had to say that I am not sure if I really liked it. Let me get started..

This book was so highly reviewed. It has a starred review from Booklist and doesn’t have a lot of negative reviews/comments from any other reviewing journals. It was put on the Rainbow Book list by GLBT Round Table of ALA. I seriously thought I was just going to read a good road trip book. I was wrong.

Jess and Chuck (I refuse to call him Chunk) are two (white?) teens from the bay area. Jess is trans, and she is heading to her father’s wedding in hopes to get him to accept her as female one way or another. Chuck is along for the ride. This is all that really happens. I feel like this statement is repeated over and over in various ways while drama between the two friends is scattered around.

I was well over 3/4 of the way through and I still wasn’t sure what this book was about. Was it about transgender teens? fat shaming? road trips? parents? divorce? friendships? what?! There were so many themes, but not one was explored below the surface other than friendship. A story has to have a little more substance if it is going to be a book solely about friendships.

The characters in this book were also a little lacking. Jess and Chuck were developed well enough I guess, but I will come back to them. The other character, which is kind of the appeal of road trip books, were all one-dimensional and boring. We met 4 people on the road (3 in one setting), and I’m not sure how much they added to the plot or world.

Jess was an asshole. I’m sorry, but that girl needed some guidance in how to be a decent human being. I’m sorry, how do you not know you are fat-shaming and humiliating your best friend? Why would you call someone overweight Chunk? Why would you talk about being disgusting and making faces at large people? I just do not understand how this character is supposed to be realistic, and if she is, how is she supposed to get any sympathy from me?

Needless to say, I will not be recommending or re-reading this book. I would also touch on the trans-issues of this book, but since I am not an expert, I would like for you to find someone else on here that might be.

Oh, and Chuck is pan because apparently that is the only person who can fall in love with a trans person. He has never had any romantic interest in a man. He never elaborates on this statement. He has had 2 white female interests. I call bullshit.

For readers, don’t do it. Pick up If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, Beastly by Brie Spangler, or The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson instead. They might not be perfect, and they might have some tragedy, but they are far better reads that this.

For libraries, I say pass. The only importance of having it is because Rainbow Booklist has it, and that means people might be looking for it.


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