Books on Tape. Sept. 2023. 12:27 hrs. ISBN 9780593861301. $95. F
Thomas’s vibrant debut follows Faye and Nell, high school students at Idlewild, a small Quaker high school in lower Manhattan. Bound together after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the two become inseparable. As the “F&N unit,” they navigate the next 18 months, intensifying their friendship as college applications and graduation loom ahead. With little supervision at home or school, they come and go as they please, keeping late hours and skipping class at will, all while immersing themselves in theater and queer readings of canonic texts. Faye and Nell are drawn to Theo and Christopher, a younger pair of possibly queer boys whose relationship seems to mirror their own. Faye and Nell’s relationship is shot through with questions about gender and sexuality. Nell crushes on Faye, while Faye is intrigued by Theo, prompting her to realize that she is a gay trans man. Kristen DiMercurio alternates between Faye’s and Nell’s perspectives, capturing their snarky, whip-smart banter while underlining the many insecurities, miscommunications, and faulty assumptions that complicate their lives.
VERDICT Thomas’s powerful book lays bare the anxieties, confusion, and hurts in the search for identity and understanding. A coming-of-age story for fans of Dana Czapnik’s The Falconer.
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