Title: The Ship We Built
Author: Lexie Bean
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 287
TW: Bullying, Incest
This was a very emotional story about a transgender boy trying to find his place in the world. The main character, Rowan, is ten years old and is being shut out of his friend group. At home, he’s the victim of his dad’s inappropriate advances and his parents punish him for cutting his hair. Rowan is biologically female and while he knows he is a boy, other people don’t understand. The story is told through letters Rowan writes and ties to balloons, desperately looking for human connection amongst overwhelming isolation and loneliness.
I loved Rowan’s character. From his narrative voice, I felt like I was actually reading the thoughts of a ten-year-old kid. This book was sad but there’s hope, too. Rowan gets crushes on both boys and girls and a female classmate he likes ends up being his first true friend. Sometimes I thought Rowan’s friend Sofie was a little too perfect, especially the extremely mature way she handles his gender identity.
It seemed too precocious for a ten-year-old. I wished there had been a more definitive ending but overall, I really liked this book. It gave me all the feels and I quickly grew to care for the main character, falling in love with him in the first few chapters. I wish there was a sequel so I could find out what happened to Rowan next.