Reviews

The Ship We Built, by Lexie Bean

naomiysl's review

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4.0

Extremely well written, and also I feel like I've just had my heart beaten to a bloody pulp. Is that a good thing? Depends on what you're going for, I suppose. Sensitive handling of a large number of difficult topics:
the experience of being a trans kid
coming into ones sexuality as an adolescent
transphobia and homophobia
parental incarceration
incest/sexual abuse

it's...a pretty big list. Treat yourself gently after reading.

fuckitupvato's review

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4.0

this broke my heart in so many ways. rowan’s story is important and i’m so glad i got to read it.

this was difficult to read at times, if only because some of the themes hit very close to home. it’s tough, but i did enjoy reading it and the message ultimately felt like one of hope.

the last line of the authors forward was a bit of a gut punch and i’ll be taking that to heart as much as possible.

saturniidead's review against another edition

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5.0

Content warning:
Spoilerreligion, transphobia, homophobia, bullying, alcohol, racism, violence, unhealthy marriage, church, smoking, police, homelessness, depression, rape, incest, therapy


Wow. This book really dug deep and resonated with me, and did an amazing job at tapping into grade school nostalgia and memories. It was unbelievably heavy but it told a story that needs to be spoken, trans youth need to see they aren’t alone. Rowan’s journey of sending balloon letters trying to reach out for someone to listen really feels like a call to the reader, like you’re a part of his story. Understanding his loneliness, confusion, fear, as well as cherishing his relentlessness, friendships, and compassion is an unforgettable experience.

Rowan is a trans boy fifth grader in 90s Michigan coping with typical childhood struggles like drama, changing friend groups, crushes, trying not to be seen as childish, while also going through some of the hardest experiences of his life. Trying to balance his more arbitrary issues with an unsafe home life leads him to sending out his letters chronicling his experiences and emotions. His journey with Sofie shows importance of having a support network, someone who knows how you cope best, and understands that it’s hard to helps someone when you’re struggling too. Even seeing people like you, and being given a small piece of advice can make a difference.

Summary:
Readability: ★★★★☆, The letter formatting makes the chunks of text very easily consumable, and the occasional drawings from Rowan really add to it! His narration as a child is handled amazingly that makes it consumable across age groups while still being in character. One star off just because it’s a very heavy book so please be especially aware of the trigger warnings before going in.

Entertainment: ★★★★★, Infinite nostalgia and pop culture reference points. The author did a fantastic job of capturing youthful memories and experiences without it feeling forcefully childish. Things like wearing an outfit different than what mom picked to picture day, anxiety at parent teacher conferences, hiding in small spaces, avoiding going downstairs because of fighting parents, hating school breaks, working alone in class, thanksgiving school lunch... it was well thought out!

Audience: Anyone who is able to tackle the tough subjects, I strongly recommend reading this. Trans youth can find someone like themselves in Rowan’s words, trans adults can reflect to Rowan and heal through seeing these experiences finally getting attention through a powerful story. Cis readers can learn more about how truly difficult it is to be a young trans person- especially cis parents who might have a gender nonconforming or trans child. If you like this, you might like Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live.

The list of resources and affirmations at the back of the book to help any readers, family, and friends is really amazing. Thank you [a:Lexie Bean|6579727|Lexie Bean|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1586726754p2/6579727.jpg]

pdestrienne's review

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challenging emotional reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes

4.0

A book that (maybe unconsciously) owes a debt to Perks of Being a Wallflower, but is wholly its own. A book that, just in reading it, feels like it was hard to write. Rowan is struggling so much to keep his sense of self or learn who he is, and my heart ached for him. The friendship with Sophie and the subtle but important support from Mr. B made it bearable. Not a typically structured uplifting middle grade story of coming to terms with identity, but rather a quiet, personal, nuanced journey on the page that shows the deep impact of trauma without dramatizing it.

andraebutler25's review

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4.0

(tw: transphobia, homophobia, abuse, implications of SA)

This was such a tough read.

The Ship We Built is about a trans boy named Rowan, as he is discovering his identity and dealing with his abusive father.

This is told similarly to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Rowan is sending letters to whoever finds them and reads them. He sends them up in balloons, which is so sweet.

I don’t even know what to say right now I feel like an empty shell.

Reading about Rowan’s constant struggles with his identity was very hard. He gets bullied at school by his old friends, nobody talks to him, his parents constantly deny who he is and punish him for wanting to be himself.

This book really dives into the guilt and isolation that comes with being a trans person and how wrong other people make you feel for existing.

He also has to deal with his father at home who, “comes in to kiss him goodnight”, and “sleeps with him”. Who is always yelling and punching holes in the wall.

But alongside all of this pain there is also so much love and hope.

Rowan has a friend named Sophie who is always by his side no matter what. She sticks by him even though she is going through her own hardships, her dad was put into jail and her mother is barely getting by so she is frequently staying home and taking care of her little sister as well.

There are so many cute little aspects of this book too, because, even though it is easy to forget through all these hardships, Rowan is still just a little kid.

He dreams of being a mailman when he’s older, he builds a ship out of a refrigerator box with Sophie, he brings rocks to her house when she isn’t around and leaves them at her door so she knows he’s thinking of her.

This is such an impactful story that is so important for so many kids out there, it is hard to get through but in the end it is worth it.


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i feel so empty but so full at the same time

abrowncherub's review against another edition

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5.0

This book…just wow.

I was kind of skeptical of this book at first because the main-character was in elementary school and it seemed as if this book wasn’t meant for my age group. Even if that were the case, I feel like this story is important for all age groups.

The writing style is in letter-format, as the main character Rowan is writing letters and sending them off on balloons in hopes to hear from someone, anyone, who can help him through his difficulties during fifth-grade.

As you read further into the book, we start to recognize that Rowan is dealing with a very serious trauma and we go through it with him and learn about it through his letters.

We learn about his crappy family home, the discrimination of who he is from his formal friends and bullies, and we grow with him as his friendship flourishes with the brown-skinned girl.

What breaks my heart about this entire book is how innocent it is written. It’s a very big lesson to learn: most children suffer in silence because even when they can understand that something isn’t right, or what’s being done to them doesn’t feel right, since they can’t put a name to it, they stay quiet.

We see Rowan and how he deals with his hardships and yet there’s always this hint of goodness behind even the most hideous of what he had to say.

This book NEEDS to be hyped up more. Don’t shy away from it just because it’s not a gooey romance with over sexualized character. Enjoy it for the pure story and amazing lessons this story offers. It talks about the LGBTQ community and shows a deeper insight into what it is to be transgender and recognizing that not knowing who you are isn’t just an adult problem, but a problem for all ages alike.

jumptoconfusion's review

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5.0

This book both destroyed me and stitched me back together after. I’ve never had to step away from a novel so frequently yet desperately needed to continue reading like with this. I wish The Ship We Built had existed when I was a child and thank you Lexie Bean for giving this to a new generation of trans kids.

draked's review

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reflective fast-paced
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

merchant_of_mishaps's review

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reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.0

jensbookshelves's review

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5.0

Where to start? I loved the audio, but the artwork in the print copy was so perfect. I ended up listening, but going back to look at the artwork. This book brought back all the feelings of that being a kid on the “outside”. The author’s ability to capture their history and convey it in such an impactful way, I am still smiling and crying. Rowan’s story will be with me and by extension, Lexie’s will be with me for a long time. I will be recommending this book and sharing it with everyone. Thank you Lexie for sharing your story through Rowan!