Maia Kobabe's autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity.
Okay, well, this book is amazing. And not to sound bossy, but go get it. Immediately.
Regardless of who you are or how you identify, this graphic novel will speak to you ...Throughout this intensely honest and poignant memoir, Maia struggles with things like fitting in as a homeschooled kid, being terrified of puberty, and struggling to ask people to use is preferred pronouns ... Maia Kobabe tells is story with such skill, beauty, and feeling that you won’t be able to put it down or resist its magnetic emotional pull. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons of the book is that identity can be a cruel thing–for all of us. Whether or not you know much about what it means to be gender queer, you know what it means to feel out of place–and to feel that it’s your fault, rather than the fault of our habits, that you feel uncomfortable. Kobabe depicts er life with such skill that it’s impossible not to be engrossed and invested. E tells is story with fantastic humor and visual creativity, delightfully rounding out this deeply affecting and empowering book.
Kobabe’s writing is very gentle, and integrates the more didactic parts of the book almost seamlessly into eir personal story. For people who have never reflected on their gender or the Western societal construction of the false male/female binary, Gender Queer opens the door to that conversation. That conversation is important, but Kobabe’s work in Gender Queer is stronger when there is a clear focus on eir own personal experience with gender ... Kobabe’s art is capable and highly reminiscent of Lucy Knisely’s recent work. The parallel between Kobabe and Knisely is a powerful one; both are autobiographers, although Knisely is a little farther along in her career than Kobabe is in eirs. But Knisely’s early work was highly lauded, commercially successful, and included in college and high school curricula. I expect, if I were to speed up time and look at where Gender Queer is in a few years, I could say the same thing ... I found Gender Queer to be tender, introspective, positive, and honest, and I expect this text to be formative reading for a lot of people. I found the book compelling, found Kobabe’s writing to be smooth, eir art competent ... Gender Queer is an introduction to the world of LGBTQ literature, and a great book to start with. I really liked this book. But I also think it’s entirely possible that Gender Queer becomes the single book that people read about nonbinary people. And I think that readers who use Gender Queer as their 'one genderqueer book' and fail to further explore the stories of trans and genderqueer people do themselves a massive disservice. This isn’t on Kobabe – it is on you, the reader. Immerse yourself in a lot of art by LGBTQ people, and you will be better for it.
Gender Queer serves multiple purposes. More than simply a memoir, the book is designed to explain the very concept of being non-binary, beginning with the author’s first memories of gender and ending with the discovery of Spivak pronouns (e, em, eir) and eir first steps towards getting the people around em to accept and understand said pronouns. While these ideas can seem imposing or strange in isolation and outside of context, biographical details are the best way to illustrate concepts that could otherwise seem extraordinarily dry ... Kobabe’s art is very readable and, above all, accommodating. E lays out eir personal history with an enviable degree of candor. Telling the world all your most excruciating personal secrets while also making them aesthetically pleasing and readable certainly seems like it should be a simple enough task, but it’s harder than you might think.