A story as charming and entertaining as it is moving and important, Beast by Brie Spangler hits all the right notes in this triumph of contemporary YA fiction.
Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.
Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?
I am obsessed with this gorgeous & inventive transgender teen love story, inspired by “Beauty & the Beast.” Brie Spangler’s Beast is a brilliantly conceived and beautifully written story of acceptance and unconditional love.
Through Spangler’s whip smart and witty writing, readers will fall in love with Dylan, Jamie, and the other characters in Beast — and their stories will seduce you into savoring every word. This book has all the charm, appeal, and heart of a John Green book or a David Levithan story, but it still feels new. Spangler has breathed new life into a “tale as old as time,” and given it a modern twist that demands attention. This is an important book, and it’s an important book right now. It’s the kind of book teens need to read and discover, and to know this exists.
But it’s also just a damn good story. It’s funny and sweet; irreverent and touching. The characters are lovingly realized (OMG, you will adore Dylan’s mom!) — they are relatable and flawed and idealistic and just so real. Their struggles are endearing and cringe-worthy, and you will find yourself rooting for them in all the best of ways.
And that, I think, is part of what makes Beast so special. It’s a book that touches on an important and timely issue, but it’s not about that. It’s not about Jamie being transgender, and it’s not about how her trans identity affects Dylan, or their relationship. It just is. It’s a part of the character — and though this does lead to some of the conflicts in the story, it is not the driving force behind the main plot. And it’s so lovely to see this woven into a story in a way that feels natural and realistic and genuine.
A story about learning to love and accept yourself, as much as it as about learning to love and accept others, Beast is a triumph of heart and humanity. Look for it in stores October 11th.