Book Review

Felix Ever After

Felix Ever After

  • Author: Kacen Callender
  • Genre: YA Contemporary
  • Publication Date: May 5, 2020
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray

CONTENT WARNING: substance use, parental abandonment, deadnaming, emotional abuse from a parent, transphobia, homophobia

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Felix Love has never been in love — and yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many — Black, queer, and transgender — to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages — after publicly posting Felix’s dead name alongside images of him before he transitioned — Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi-love triangle … 

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

I’ve heard so many great things about this book, that I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read it. And it’s one of those that honestly truly lived up to all the hype. It hit all the right notes, and I loved it. 

This just felt like such a big story, and tackled some serious, real-life issues. Felix is aware of how fortunate he is to be where he is. He attends an art school, so he is basically immersed in a queer-friendly setting, and mentions that he has been shielded from the worst aspects of hate, for the most part. His father has been supportive of his transition, although Felix still has questions about his identity:

“Even after coming out, even after starting my transition, sometimes I get this feeling. The feeling that something still isn’t right. Questions float to the surface. Those questions begin to pull on this thread of anxiety, and I’m afraid if I pull too hard, I’ll unweave and become completely undone.”

Throughout the story, Felix also struggled with another dilemma that I could completely empathize with: the need to know what to do with the rest of your life. In our society, it feels like there’s so much pressure put on teenagers to succeed, to do well and ensure future success, and it can be so overwhelming. 

“All this pressure fills me up so much that it’s hard to think, hard to move, hard to even breathe.”

When someone publicly deadnames Felix, and then starts sending him hateful, transphobic messages, it’s a hateful personal attack and he has no idea why they targeted him. I love that while the fact that he is deadnamed is mentioned multiple times throughout the story, we don’t find out what it is, because it doesn’t matter. Who he was is irrelevant. This story is all about who Felix is and who he is becoming.

“Pain sparks and fury burns through me. It’s no one else’s right to say who I am, or what I identify as — but not everyone believes that.”

The cast of characters is amazing. Almost all of the characters in the story are POC and queer, and I loved the dynamics between them. I couldn’t help but love Felix especially, and want to see him do really well. Even with the heavy subjects being presented, the story still felt like a fun, lighthearted celebration of who these people were. Because ultimately, they didn’t feel like characters in a book — they felt like real people to me. And honestly? They were the kind of people I would love to hang out with. The kind who just like to have fun and live life. 

I love that this book exists in the world. It’s important for people to be aware that questioning your identity is okay, and that no matter how you express that identity, it’s valid, and that you’re worthy of love. Plus, it kind of feels like a bit of a love letter to NYC, which I’ve got a soft spot for.

5 replies »

  1. Interesting! I enjoyed Kacen Callender’s middle-grade book, Hurricane Child, which is about a girl from the U.S. Virgin Islands who realizes she can see people no one else does, and also that she’s in love with the new girl at school.

    I tried listening to the audiobook of Felix, but it got too heavy for me about a third of the way through, with the family emotional abuse.

    I did love that the story addressed how certain TERF arguments get picked up by the younger generations, like when Felix’s ex-girlfriend claims that he’s really a self-mysoginistic woman. It sounds like something she heard from a family member or some talk show, and she’s repeating it because she thinks she’s supposed to.

    Maybe I’ll try again sometime, in written form, so I can skim when I need to.

    Liked by 1 person

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