Just Happy to Be Here

HarperTeen. Jan. 2024. 320p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063216570.
Gr 7 Up–Kanakia’s novel shares the struggle of a trans teen just trying to be a girl at school, instead of “the trans girl.” Tara is finally at an all-girls school, after transitioning and leaving her all-boys school up the hill. She is slowly finding her people when a chance to join an exclusive club, the Sibyls, opens up. Tara loves everything the group stands for and finally feels like she truly fits somewhere. However, once her eligibility is questioned, everyone else starts fighting for her trans rights, but she never asked for that. In fact, the drama stemming from the situation leads to her anti-trans state government coming and questioning her. Can Tara balance this new attention while figuring out who her real friends are? Readers may find the cover confusing, as Tara does not mention having facial hair at any point in the book. Tara is a trans girl and person of color, and her friends also include a trans boy, a queer girl, and other people of color. The book’s exclusive club, the Sibyls, centers around ancient mythology; meaning in addition to various passages included, multiple characters have both a real name and an ancient nickname for the club. This content can be rather choppy and difficult to follow when weaved into the story. Otherwise, some of the main plot points feel reminiscent of If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, which may draw fans, but ultimately the writing caliber falls short.
VERDICT Though we all need more trans books on the shelf, this one can be hard to follow at times. An additional purchase.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing