Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker is a story about acceptance. The novel follows the life of Zenobia July, a transgender girl (someone who was assigned the gender of a boy at birth, but identifies as a girl). While Zenobia is dealing with moving in with her aunts, and to a new middle school, she is also trying to accept herself, which may prove to be harder than she thinks.
Zenobia is a teenager who struggles with confidence and feeling like herself. When she goes to her new school, she can finally be who she is, unlike in past schools. Zenobia hopes that is enough to fit in. When someone hacks into her school’s website to put up offensive memes, Zenobia decides to take it upon herself to figure out who they are and bring them to light. She hopes to do this without bringing herself into the spotlight along with the perpetrator.
Zenobia July has a lot of LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning) representation. For example, Zenobia’s friend Arli is a genderqueer person (somebody who cannot be categorized as male or female). Arli uses the pronouns vo, ven, and veir instead of she/he, him/her, or his/hers.
An unrealistic part of the added pronouns is when Zenobia was asked to call Arli by them, the new words were added to her vocabulary and she started using them without skipping a beat. Changing the pronouns that you call someone is not only hard, but it may be adding several new words to your vocabulary. Switching pronouns is modifying the way that you not only talk about someone, but also think about them.
The novel has several details about Zenobia’s surroundings making the reader feel more involved. Bunker uses a lot of description about what a challenge it is to be a teenager, especially the social aspect of it, making the story extremely relatable. The book uses very easy to understand language. The author leaves some of the characters’ genders up for the reader’s interpretation, which is refreshing.
I rate the novel a 7 out of 10 because the LGBTQ+ representation is not entirely realistic. I recommend the book to people who like to read about controversial subjects.