Title: Spy Stuff
Author: Matthew J. Metzger
Publisher: Queerteen Press
Release Date: April 30th 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Young Adult
Page Count: 226 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5
Anton never thought anyone would ever want to date him. Everyone knows nobody wants a transgender boyfriend, right? So he’s as shocked as anyone when seemingly-straight Jude Kalinowski asks him out, and doesn’t appear to be joking.
The only problem is … well, Jude doesn’t actually know.
Anton can see how this will play out: Jude is a nice guy, and nice guys finish last. And Anton is transgender, and transgender people don’t get happy endings. If he tells Jude, it might destroy everything.
And if Jude tells anyone else … it will.
Anton is a fifteen year old FTM transgender teen dealing with a lot. His father refuses to acknowledge he’s a boy. This is one of the reasons there was serious friction in his parent’s marriage, and was a big reason leading to their divorce.
Now that the divorce is done, Anton and his mother have moved in with his Aunt, which has two silver linings: Anton is now in a home with adults who unconditionally and completely support him 100%. But the best part is that Anton is able to leave behind his old school where he was bullied and start fresh. In his new school Anton is determined that none of the other students ever find out about him being transgender. The staff are all accommodating, he’s making real friends, playing football, and there’s even a boy he likes.
Jude Kalinowski is a gorgeous, fiery red-head, with a totally chill personality unless he’s pushed. Always into girls in the past, Jude’s surprised when he immediately feels attracted to Anton. The more time Jude spends with Anton the more he starts to fall for him. When the two start to date it’s great and terrifying for Anton, who knows he’ll have to confess before things continue to escalate sexually with Jude.
I liked that Metzger explores Anton’s fear of being ostracized and bullied. Anton has good reason to be wary, even though he knows Jude is a good guy and totally trustworthy.
I liked that Spy Stuff is realistic, and even slightly PSA-ish, without being overbearing about it.
I really liked that Metzger realistically portrayed Jude and Anton as sexually active (so many YA novels don’t), even while I was bummed the sex mentioned was all off page.
But, more than anything else, let me gush about how much I absolutely LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Jude! Wondering where the title comes from? Jude coins it when speaking about Anton’s transgenderism to keep it all on the down low. He is such a great character!
So many Young Adult stories go overboard preaching, but this was just a well paced, thoughtful story that had loads of humor and feels.