By Guest Blogger: Kelly Quindlen, Author of She Drives Me Crazy, Late to the Party, Her Name in the Sky
“That’s the first time I’ve ever seen someone who looks like me on the cover of a book.”
That was Lon’s immediate reply when I sent him a picture of Felix Ever After, Kacen Callender’s 2020 young adult novel about a Black trans boy looking for love during a sweltering New York summer. The titular character, Felix, stands proudly on the cover wearing a flower crown and a daring smirk, completely at home in his body—which includes visible red scars from his top surgery, a common medical procedure some trans youth undergo. Lon couldn’t believe his eyes as he took in this blatantly-trans character on the cover of a bestselling book. As he said to me, “Wow, this is how other readers feel all the time.”
Lon was 18 when we had this conversation. He had lived through nearly two decades of reading books with characters who didn’t look like him, love like him, or move through the world like him. Can you imagine the kind of hunger that creates in a person? It’s a kind of subconscious starvation, a deep longing to see yourself somewhere, anywhere. It’s almost enough to believe you’re not real.