Toni and Gretchen fell in love at their very first meeting. Gretchen was the new girl in town, but Toni was known by everybody – she’d just won a battle to be allowed to wear trousers at her all-girls school, the coverage of which had even made the Washington Post!
Now, having been in a blissfully happy relationship for nearly two years, it’s time for university. Toni’s off to Harvard, and Gretchen will be nearby at Boston University so they can still see each other all the time. Then at the last minute Gretchen decides to take up an offer from New York University instead. She’s always loved New York, and at least it’s on the same coast. She’s reluctant to admit the real reason to anyone, including herself – that she wants to stop being in Toni’s shadow and have her own life.
While Gretchen makes friends with her goth roommate Sam and temperamental Carroll, Toni makes some transgender friends. Toni’s never really identified as female, but now she starts to wonder if she’d be happier as a male. As she becomes wrapped up in her new life and questions about her sexuality, she seems to have less and less time for Gretchen. Neither Toni nor Gretchen really wants to split up, but can they manage a long-distance relationship?
LBGTQ YA books are very in at the moment, and this one is a welcome addition. Both Toni and Gretchen are appealing characters. It’s enlightening on issues of gender and sexuality, but never takes itself too seriously; Toni’s attempts at using gender neutral pronouns, like ‘hir’, ‘ze’ and ‘they’ are often hilarious. It’s also very touching at times: there was a particularly moving episode when Toni and her friends, some of whom were transitioning from female to male, were left distraught after a thoughtless waitress referred to them all as ‘you ladies’. It’s not just an LBGTQ book though – Toni and Gretchen face many issues that affect everyone moving on from school to new stages of life, making this a book relevant to all young people.