Title: Stay Gold
Author: Tobly McSmith
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 368
First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate how ugly the cover art of this book is? I mean, what is the boy in the picture doing with his arm? The angle he has it at looks painful, to say the least. 😀
Anyway. Stay Gold is about a transgender boy named Pony going stealth at a new high school. He’s a military brat and used to being moved from place to place, but he’s determined to pass as cis and not be known as ‘the trans kid’ by his teachers and classmate. When Pony meets a cheerleader named Georgia, it’s attraction at first sight.
His trans friend Max wants him to be honest with Georgia and tell her he’s biologically female, but Pony puts it off. How will she react when she finds out? Will she still be interested in him? At the same time Pony’s bigoted dad is refusing to help him pay for top surgery, and Pony is sick and tired of living in a body that has felt wrong his entire life. Stay Gold is told in alternating viewpoints- Pony and Georgia. At first I had a lot of trouble with Georgia’s POV. She was just a little too flaky for me, one of those narrators who actually said OMG and WTF (a lot) and seemed like the millennial version of a valley girl-type character.
I didn’t actually dislike her character, though. Both she and Pony were really immature, but I ended up developing a soft spot for both of them by the end. I really enjoyed getting to read about Pony being a cinephile and I thought the relationship between him and Ted London (a dying actor who Pony is working for by helping clean out his home) was the best part of the book. The writing in this book wasn’t bad but some of it felt very young, like it was geared towards younger teenagers.
I felt like everything came together a little too perfectly at the end, especially with Pony’s dad’s abrupt epiphany. With his horrible behavior towards Pony and his sister Rocky throughout the book, it was really hard to believe he would just come around the way he did. I feel like the book would have been much better if it had ended on a slightly more ambiguous note instead of everything just falling together and Pony’s issues being solved. It felt fake and put a damper on what was mostly a very enjoyable read.