Saturday, April 12, 2014

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kristin Cronn-Mills

"When the headphones are tight on my ears, the sounds slide into my bloodstream like little silver fish, racing and flashing. Music doesn't hurt me. It's love that just loves you, and doesn't care who you are or what's between your legs.

 Music is safe." -Gabe from Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

Who doesn't LOVE music? From MP3s to 45s, music has warmed the souls of generations, giving us an escape from life's daily doldrums, at times saving us from despair.  Kristin Cronn-Mills' Beautiful Music for Ugly Children offers a unique story of how music saved Gabe, a trans-gender high school senior, who cannot wait to share his "B-side" to the world. While his parents and friends know him as Elizabeth, Gabe is beaming with excitement to graduate high-school and let the world know of his new identity as Gabe.  In an awesome twist of fate, Gabe was able to host a Saturday late-night, radio program that showcased his talents and knowledge of music. As Gabe's show gains popularity, he navigates through the challenges of being a transgender youth who, until now, has been known as a shy female. But would "coming out" force Gabe to turn inward and succumb to the social pressures of being accepted?

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is not only a great text for youth who may be struggling to identify as LGTBQ, but it offers a glimpse into what it means to be truly accepted for your genuine self. Cronn-Mills infuses sarcasm and a multitude of music references spanning from the 60's to present day that will keep young adult audiences interested and rooting for Gabe's happiness.  Teachers who would like to incorportate this text into the classroom may find The Trevor Project as a great resource for helping LGTBQ youth.

If you are an advisory teacher supporting a teenage student and their family through their transition, PFLAG is also a great starting point. Cronn-Mill's gritty take on this challenging, yet pivotal time in Gabe's life is also a great read for aspiring writers, and she shares her own, albeit messy, writing process with readers on her website. Just like "music is freedom... and makes people think in new ways", this text will offer a candid narrative of a transgender youth that can challenge each reader's beliefs about becoming transgender and offer hope to youth who understand Gabe's journey as he leads the Ugly Children Brigade, the followers of his trail-blazing radio show.


Vanessa Chairez said...

Heather great post! The book seems really interesting and the trailer you provided was good. I like how you mention The Trevor Project and how students can use that as a good resources. I also feel that is a great book for the classroom but I can see many parents or even teachers having a problem teaching about LGTBQ because of religion reasons. Other than thought I think this could be great because so much is happening in the LGTBQ community and everyone should be aware of it.


Heather Nelson said...

Thanks, Vanessa! I agree, some parents may not feel comfortable allowing their child to read this text due to religious reasons. I would offer an opt-out with an alternative text to ensure students can participate during this unit. Great point!

marty edwards said...

This sounds like a very compelling read. I saw the title of your book review (and the book) and thought, "I have to see what this is about." Your review is very well written, I like the inclusion of the quote at the beginning especially. I think your review captured the spirit of the book, but I'll have to read it to find out. Thanks for a great review.

Olga Cruz said...

this book truly sounds inspirational. Like Heather said this may be troublesome for those parents that would avoid this book for religious beliefs, but in class I would give this book as an option to cherish diversity and to stop bullying and to help those students that are struggling with being different.