Reviews tagging 'Transphobia'

Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass

11 reviews

mel_muses's review against another edition

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4.5

"Call it destiny, or a pattern. The exact word doesn’t matter. I know where I’m meant to be."

What more could I ask for in a middle grade novel? A.J. Sass included some of the most heartfelt representation I've read in middle grade. I loved the sapphic rep. I loved the autism rep. I loved the Jewish rep. I loved how everything was depicted with such care and awareness that one experience doesn't encompass all.

Ellen Outside the Lines follows Ellen on her trip to Spain with her Spanish class. Ellen is a planner, a person who likes to stick to a schedule (felt). She's also open-minded, and willing to change the boxes she has in her head (and dot diary). So when her regularly schedules Spain trip gets turned into an exciting scavenger hunt by her Spanish teacher, Ellen's a little hesitant, to say the least.

I loved the explorations of friendship. Between Ellen and Isa, the new nonbinary kid on their trip, as well as between their whole scavenger hunt group itself — including Andy and Gibs. They were all endearing, and felt so authentic as little middle schoolers. I want to wrap them all up into a good, big hug. I felt like every single subject was treated with such complete openness to other experiences. Ellen was so understanding and perceptive, and Isa was such a good friend to them, always ready to call out other people and provide a fresh perspective. Andy and Gibs, too, surprised me by how quickly I grew to care for them.

Another relationship I absolutely loved was Ellen and her abba. I loved the casual use of Hebrew in their conversations, and the ways they connected over Judaism. It was such a wonderful thing, to see this middle schooler as a practicing Jew, and care for her culture and religion.

A.J. Sass explores so many topic you wouldn't expect, but does it so effectively and carefully that it makes this book so, so special because of it. This is a book about friendship and identity, and living as who you are. I felt everything Ellen went through deeply. I hope you read this book and see it for the special piece of middle grade literature that it is.

Trigger Warnings: forced outing, sensory overstimulation, transphobia (challenged)

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naomiysl's review

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adventurous emotional informative lighthearted reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

 A Jewish autistic child goes on a class trip to Barcelona. Friendship tangles and middle school crushes abound as the class is broken into teams for a city wide scavenger hunt. Gender and sexuality are lightly explored as Ellen makes friends with a nonbinary kid, has crushes, learns of others having crushes, explores the city, and tries out bilingual puns.   

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some_random_person_hi's review against another edition

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emotional hopeful informative lighthearted reflective relaxing fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75

It's not bad, I just wasn't in the right frame of mind when reading it as a mood reader. Anyway, it flowed very quickly and was readable even without knowing Spanish. Would've prefered the description of pride including aspec people.

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ezwolf's review

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adventurous emotional informative reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

First of all, I was just about in tears (happy tears!) by the end. To have a queer Jewish character who uses she/they pronouns really just made me so indescribably happy!

Jewish middle grade is going to be my favorite genre forever now I think. I've read so many great middle grade books with Jewish characters in the last few years and it makes me so happy for kids now to have such great representation in books, especially when so many Jewish books focus on the Holocaust (but yes, those are important too).

I loved that Hebrew was spoken between Ellen and her abba and that we got to see Jewish traditions just as part of Ellen's every day life. I've had l'cha dodi stuck in my head all day now though. 

This book had a lot of great moments for the audience to learn about Judaism, gender identity, sexual orientation and autism.

I will now be reading all of A.J. Sass' other work as soon as possible!

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321zeggy's review

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hopeful reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5


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betweentheshelves's review

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emotional hopeful fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

Jewish rep (I don't think I've ever seen a middle grade book where they spoke Hebrew), queer rep, and autistic rep, all done fabuously. Elle felt like such a real, authentic character, going through things that every middle schooler goes through: changing friend groups. At least, that seems like a pretty universal thing to me.

I basically read this book in one sitting because it was paced so well, and I was so engaged by the characters. This is AJ Sass's second book, but you can bet that I will be on the lookout for what he writes in the future. I've thoroughly enjoyed both books so far!

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wardenred's review

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hopeful reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

 
I’m ahead of schedule and this is a problem.

This is such a thoughtful and well-written story with a lot of diversity. A lot of Ellen's experience navigating the uncomfortably changing world around her felt relatable and made me think back to my own preteen years. I also really loved Isa and the way their gender identity was handled. This book is a great reminder that even in a world where neurodivergent, nonbinary, and otherwise "different" kids have the language to talk about their experiences and can afford to actually talk about them openly, we still have such a long way to go. At the same time, that long road no longer feels impossible.

I really loved the characters in this book and the way the MC always has a support system to rely on, even when things get too much and out of control. Throughout all the challenges she experiences, being in a new place and facing a lot of unexpected things and being on shaky footing with her best friend, there's just so much kindness and hope. You know, just... this certainty that in the long run, no matter what life throws at them, Ellen and her friends are going to be all right. 

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netflixismyroommate's review

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adventurous emotional hopeful medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5


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ankonyx's review

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emotional hopeful lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75


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daycia's review

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adventurous hopeful inspiring lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.75


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