Review of Too Bright to See

Too Bright to See
by Kyle Lukoff
Middle School    Dial    192 pp.    g
4/21    978-0-593-11115-4    $16.99

Bug has always believed his family’s old Vermont farmhouse is haunted — partly because of shadows and creaks, and partly because he often “catch[es] a glimpse of something in the mirror that isn’t me.” Since Uncle Roderick’s death, that haunting has seemed more directed specifically at Bug: “Some presence is trying to send me a message.” Lukoff (When Aidan Became a Brother, rev. 7/19) lets readers decide for themselves whether the haunting is real or whether it stems from Bug’s believably portrayed grief and process of growing up (Bug is about to enter middle school). Either way, Bug figures out a great deal via some exploring about Uncle Roderick, who was openly gay and had worked as a drag queen, and finally realizes his own transgender identity. (Bug, eventually known as Tommy, uses she/her pronouns at first and transitions to he/him pronouns.) Bug’s first-person, present-tense narration gives readers a close look at his sense that things don’t quite fit, both in interactions with peers and on his own, and his gradual understanding of why that is: “I’ve never recognized myself before, but now I do.”

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She is a current member of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee, and has served on the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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