Updated: May 30
Gender Queer is a graphic novel based on the life of the author, Maia Kobabe, and their journey of coming out as gender queer and on the asexual spectrum. Readers take an adventure with the author as they go through the different stages of life along with the experiences of gender and sexuality at these different points. Readers witness Maia’s life journey through puberty, first dates, college, and other major life events. The narrated timeline of Kobabe starts in their early elementary years and finishes after graduate school giving insight into the internal and external experiences Kobabe has with two identities and the impact they had on their life.
Gender Queer is a great resource for those questioning or recently coming out as gender diverse (gender queer, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming) as well as those on the asexual spectrum. Those who are allies or partners of these identities covered in the memoir can benefit from the experience the author provides. Based on the topics covered and with the story told as a graphic novel Kobabe’s memoir would be a great read for teens and young adults or anyone who loves a good book about queer identity.
The author and the artist of Gender Queer are both Kobabe, adding to the connection readers have with the personal stories and experiences throughout the book. This novel was created by a queer artist and author for the queer community, creating a first hand account of queer experiences that others in the community can relate to at some level.
Overall the book contained interesting story lines and side adventures that matched extremely well with the pictures making the memoir easy to follow. The pictures add an extra dimension to the emotions, plot, and messages the author conveys with the text. In other words, Gender Queer would make a great addition to any public and high school library. There are some points in the story that are meant for older readers and would not recommend for the book to be in middle school libraries. However, would make a good addition to any personal libraries for middle school children to read.
I enjoyed reading this book, especially seeing the normalization around identities that Kababe provides throughout the story. The author did a wonderful job of providing knowledge around asexuality through their personal experience that I had not known before. The story added to my knowledge around queer identities as well as a starting point to understand struggles and wins that others who identify similar to the author may experience. One of my favorite parts of this book was the bios of people in the author’s life that they included. In these bios were illustrations of what the people looked like physically, but also personality traits, hobbies and activities, likes and dislikes, and relation to the author.
I would enjoy reading this book again and any others written by Maia Kobabe. I would love to see more graphic novels and memoirs of queer authors and artists along with other underrepresented communities. In conclusion, Gender Queer would make a great edition to a must read list.