Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff

Published on May 27, 2022

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Too Bright to See   by Kyle Lukoff

Reviewed by Elizabeth DeVincenzo


This middle grade coming of age novel told in the first person introduces readers to Bug, living in Vermont with her mother. Bug and her best friend, Moira are growing apart.  Moira is interested in clothes, make-up, and going to the mall.  Bug does not share her interests and wonders why she feels different than other girls.   Following the passing of her beloved Uncle Roderick, Bug begins experiencing paranormal activities in her house. Bug is used to hauntings in her house- cold spots, doors opening and shutting by themselves, but these hauntings feel like they are personal messages from Uncle Roderick who was gay. Using a Ouija board- the message appears to Bug- “Be You”. With Uncle Roderick’s guidance- Bug learns and accepts that she is a transgender boy.   She shaves her head and begins the new school year as a boy wearing t-shirts and boy jeans.  Bug, now going by the name Tommy, and his mother meet with the principal at the new middle school who is welcoming and accepting, as are his classmates.   Lukoff, a transgender author, not only focuses on Bug’s struggles with gender identity and acceptance, but also other issues that all children can relate to universally- such as grieving over the loss of a family member, drifting apart from old friends, and the general anxiety with starting middle school.  This book would also appeal to children who enjoy mysteries and spooky stories.  Along with Alex Gino’s Melissa, this is an excellent read for Pride month and for children who are questioning their gender identity. This work serves as a good introduction for children who have never met a transgender person:  exposure leads to acceptance and understanding.  A must read for parents of transgendered children.  An author’s note discussing the use of pronouns is included.  Favorite quote : “It’s hard to be yourself before you know who that is.”

Target audience:  Ages 10 and up

Newbery Honor Award Winner 2022

Stonewall Children’s Book Award Winner 2022

National Book Award Finalist- Young People’s Literature 2021


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