My Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick
YA Contemporary LGBT
Harmony Ink Press | June 26, 2018
About the Book: John Lennon fought for world peace, but sixteen-year-old hippie hopeful Kale Oswald’s only made it as far as tie-dying his T-shirts with organic grape juice. Now he’s ready to cement his new hippie identity by joining a local human rights organization, but he doesn’t fit in as well as he’d hoped.
After landing himself in the hospital by washing down a Ziploc bag of pills with a bottle of Gatorade, Julian Mendez came clean to his mother: he is a girl stuck in a boy’s body. Puberty blockers have stopped the maturing of the body he feels has betrayed him. They’re also supposed to give him time to be sure he wants to make a more permanent decision, but he’s already Julia in his heart. What he’s not sure he’s ready to face is the post-transition name-calling and bathroom wars awaiting him at school.
When Kale and Julian come face-to-face at the human rights organization, attraction, teenage awkwardness, and reluctant empathy collide. They are forced to examine who they are and who they want to become. But until Kale can come to terms with his confusion about his own sexuality and Julian can be honest with Kale, they cannot move forward in friendship, or anything more.
I’m really glad Mia Kerick contacted me and asked if I’d like to review My Crunchy Life. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t request it when Harmony Ink’s review request email went around. The synopsis sounded really good, particularly the idea that Kale is attracted to Julian immediately, causing him to question his sexuality, not knowing Julian is actually a trans girl. He was thrown for a loop again after finding out, and all this made his journey to figuring out who he is more confusing.
I can’t speak to the accuracy of how Julian or Kale were written. I don’t generally analyze a book like that anyway. Two people going through similar situations often see them in two different ways. I can speak to how the story made me feel, which was thoughtful. I wasn’t drawn to one character over the other, which was good. I found strengths in both Julian and Kale, and I also found weakness. It made both characters feel more realistic and easier to understand. I also loved how, even though nobody could argue with what Julian was going through, she was also understanding and compassionate toward Kale when she really didn’t have to be. It made me like her even more.
I did struggle with the side characters. You had this core story about Julian and her transition, and how her and Kale were being drawn to each other despite their confusion and anxiety over who they are. It was enough to fill every page of My Crunchy Life and then some. Yet, Mia Kerick chose to leave out parental interactions. We got a few scenes with Kale’s father, and a few with Julian’s mom, but for the most part the parents were all absent. The author chose to make them absent, and gave multiple reasons for why, and yet somehow it felt like it was written this way in order to minimize character usage. Maybe it’s only because parental relationships are one of my favorites, and My Crunchy Life was a prime story to really elaborate on the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ parents, but I definitely missed it.
The page time that could have gone into establishing relationship types with their parents ended up going to Kale’s cousin Hughie. Hughie’s history had the makings of a really awesome story but this was the wrong time for it. My Crunchy Life would have been better had it stayed focused on Kale and Julian, and then maybe developing Hughie’s story for a sequel.
That’s just this girl’s opinion though. Despite my criticism’s, I enjoyed My Crunchy Life, and I feel like there was a lot of good inside these pages.
Thank you to the author for providing a free copy, in exchange for an honest review.
This synopsis didn’t interest me, but it did make me think of you. I almost forwarded it to you, but then thought ‘Nah. She’s trying not to take on too many ARCs.’ LOL! So I was spot on about what you’re interested in.
Nice review, Birdie. I’m sorry this wasn’t all you’d hoped it would be.
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It was half and half. I loved the main characters, but I’d hoped it would focus more on them as a whole.
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