Diversity, Fiction, Illness, Kidlit, Loved-it, NetGalley

Diverse kids books? Yes, please! Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker

Pop quiz!

You like cute books. You also like diverse books. And you enjoy YA and kids books.

Question: will you like Felix Yz?

(tick tock tick tock…)

Answer: Yes! Most definitely YES!!

Why? Let’s get started. First I’ll give you some backstory:

Felix isn’t a very lucky boy. When he was very small, he suffered a scientific accident and was fused with a 4th dimensional being/alien and became half-paralyzed. And not only that – he lost his dad. Felix isn’t one to be sorry for himself about this, but his life isn’t easy. For one, he is bullied. But even those who don’t bully him, think he’s… not quite there. It’s very hard for Felix to make others understand that the reason he can’t move or talk properly isn’t because he’s stupid – it’s because he’s trapped in his own body. To top it off, Felix also has a crush… On another boy. And he’s not sure what to do about that. But that’s the least of his problems. The biggest one, right now, is the ZeroDay… The day when they will try to separate him and Zyx, his alien, and the root of all his physical problems. It’s because it’s very unlikely that Felix will survive… So he has started writing a journal to help him cope with that, and we are his audience.

Reasons to like Felix Yz?

This is, like, the most diverse book ever. If you thought you read diverse? This is probably more diverse. How?

For starters, Felix is… pretty much disabled (there’s a reason why I say ‘pretty much’). Even though he is not really physically disabled, he gets the brunt from everything disabled people have to suffer from. I especially liked it, because this stands for both the mentally and physically disabled! Cause poor Felix has to deal with both pain, inability to physically do stuff, and have people think he’s stupid because he can’t quite talk properly, when in fact he has a fully functioning mind of any normal teen. Of course, it’s not a typical disability, and I don’t want to spoil, but basically… It represents what disabled kids have to go through very well, I think.

Second, to top all of it off, Felix isn’t just physically different. He also happens to like a boy. It adds to the problems of being accepted as well. And although he feels alright about the fact that he might like boys (or both girls and boys, for that matter – we don’t know), it’s that he’s not sure how the other person will feel about it. I like the way this is handled like any straight-people crush would be handled in a book. We don’t get lectured about it or anything. It’s just treated as normal! Diversity at its best.

Then there’s the third part. I think I found this to be the best part of all, but Felix’s Grandy (grandparent) is… of unknown biological sex. They choose their own sexuality, being male for two days, then female for two more, etc. There are even these special pronouns the writer has come up with, I thought that was lovely. It’s hard for me to sum up why I liked it so much, so let me give you a quote from the book (please keep in mind it’s from an uncorrected proof and subject to change):

[Felix asks Grandy to tell him their real name. Grandy refuses, as always.] “Why not?”

“Oh, well, you know, if I did have such a name – note, I’m not saying whether I do or not – nothing frightful would happen if I told you. But it has become important to me that no one around me who doesn’t already know my birth name learn it, whether or not it ends with X.”

“Why?”

“Because then someone might assume vo [they] knew which biological sex I was at birth, and then vo might decide that one of Vera or Vern was the real me and the other was only an act, or a joke, or worse, a mental illness, which is most certainly not the case. I am Vera, and I am Vern, and I am also both and neither.”

Anyway, can’t only be talking about diversity here, right? The book was enjoyable even aside from that. It was just so warm, cozy, adorable. It focuses a lot on love, family, and the fact that even good families might have problems. Then there are all those adorable word plays! Like all of the names in his family (end in “xyz”) or how his Grandy loves making games out of letters and sounds. It’s so adorable, in a nerdy/geeky way, and just too good to be true.

It might be hard for me to explain to you exactly how this book felt, but I will give you something to compare it with. If you liked these books, you will certainly like Felix Yz:

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1) Things I Should Have Known We Have Always Lived in the Castle A Wind in the Door (Time Quintet #2)

Ultimately, it’s a tale about how one feels when they’re different, and especially – when they’re about to die. It’s about treasuring life, taking responsibility, about loving life. About accepting the hand you’re dealt. And it’s just so touching along the way, you will not want to let it go when you’ve read the very last page. I strongly encourage you to give this book a go. It was great.

I thank Penguin Young Readers Group, Viking Books for Young Readers and Lisa Bunker for giving me an early copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Opinions are entirely my own.

Will you give Felix Yz a go? And do you read a lot of diverse books?

27 thoughts on “Diverse kids books? Yes, please! Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker

  1. Oohh that quote has me very very interested! I should probably just come to you for all my diverse recommendations at this point, shouldn’t I? 😉
    I so very much love when diverse treat disabilities/differences/etc. as just *normal*. That is my favorite because it lends itself to imagining a future wherein we are all accepted for who we are because we just ARE, no rhyme, reason, or evidence rooted in science needed. That makes my heart sing!
    kris @ lemon-notes recently posted…THE BEST BOOKS OF 2017 THUS FAR | DUMPSTER FIRES + CHEETOSMy Profile

    1. Haha, I do try 😀 I’ve been reading a lot of PoC related books lately, so there will be all that on the blog sometime soon. Serious topics, but very interesting as well.
      As for this one, when I started it, I surely didn’t expect it to go like that! It was very surprisingly diverse and in a warm, nice way.

  2. This definitely sounds like an interesting read. Loved your review. You definitely made me want to grab a copy! 🙂
    By the way, I nominated Avalinah’s Books for the Mid-Year Freakout book tag! No obligations!! But if your interested, you can find the post on my blog today! 😉
    Maureen Bakker recently posted…The Mid-Year Freakout Book TagMy Profile

  3. I’m going to look for this book as to buy or borrow. Definitely sounds fun and inspiring. Not quite the same but reminds me of a book/movie titled, “The Martian Child.”

  4. Does the book advise on what age reader the target audience is? When I read “kids book,” I always think picture book first, which isn’t correct of me, so I was surprised when you quoted a whole sentence! Picture books usually have short little sentences.

    1. Haha, no, I think this is like middle grade? I’m not sure I remember completely right. But you know, middle grade is like… pre-YA. Nothing ‘kid’ about it, besides being completely clean of sex, swearing, gore and stuff, and sometimes more… naive (like Anne of Green Gables was?) That’s why I like these books so much. When I blog about kidlit, it’s always books like that, books with actual long sentences and normal writing. Maybe it’s cause I started reading at 4 and by 8 was reading books like The Hobbit 😀

      1. In the U.S., based on what I’ve heard, we have picture books, then chapter books for somewhere around 7-9, and middle grade, which would be 10-13ish, then YA, which is meant for teens. When I was younger, Anne of Green Gables was way too hard to me! I didn’t have one of those abridged copies, though, which make the sentences easier to read….maybe I just wasn’t a very smart kid.

        1. Nah, I think you were a normal kid! I was just a weirdo 😀 this one was said to be middle grade. But I would think it’s a teen book? It didn’t feel too “kids” for me, it was great. But then again, my BF calls me innocent like a kid, so I guess that’s why kids’ books still work for me xD

  5. holy shhhh Evelina “the most diverse book ever” “diversity at it’s best” you read LOTSA diverse books so this is very high praise! I’d love to read this book but I’m a little weary because anything “trapped in his own body” makes me VERY anxious 🙁 BUT you say “warm, cozy, adorable” and mentioned “Things I should have known” [though a wrinkle in time was a DNF for me] man!!! IDK I think I’ll read it??? LOL
    Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium recently posted…Comment on The Night Mark – 4.2 ethereal stars! by Tanya @ Girl Plus BooksMy Profile

    1. Really, you DNFed The Wrinkle? Dunno, maybe you shouldn’t try this book then 🙂 it’s more about emotional stuff and doesn’t really have a very solid plot or lots of activity, so you might not enjoy it 🙂 but yes, diversity! Bet you could tell from the quote 🙂

        1. DNF mood is one thing. Another is that not everyone is as childish minded as me 😀 I like very innocent books! That’s not for everyone 🙂

  6. Oh my, the diversity sounds intense in this one. Definitely pushed boundaries on a lot of aspects too. The whole new pronounces thing was also intriguing. You definitely make this sound extraordinary! Excellent review 😀

    1. Thank youuuu 🙂 you have been giving me so many compliments 😀 making my morning here!
      And yes… This book might have not had incredible writing, but dang it had an incredible cast and contents. It just had so many good things to say.

  7. One of my passions is promoting diversity in children’s books, so I was so happy to see this review! I have not seen this book around before, but I am so appreciative that you brought it to my attention. It sounds right up my alley. Have you read George by Alex Gino? That is one of my favorite diverse children’s books 🙂

    1. Yes, this one was great and I strongly recommend it 🙂 I haven’t read that one yet, but I’ve recently heard about it! And it sounded great. I think I will be getting it sometime soon 🙂

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