Gender Blender review

GendeGender Blenderr Blender by Blake Nelson

Delacorte Press, 2006. 9780385746960

Synopsis: Emma and Tom used to be friends: they built a tree fort and hung out together all the time. Now they are in 6th grade and boy/girl friendships aren’t cool anymore. Tom spends a lot of time perfecting his baseball pitch and is sort of mad that Emma is hanging out with the mean girls. Emma is mad at Tom for pushing her away because she is a girl and trying to get Jeff Matthews to notice her. When they are paired together for a health class assignment in which they are supposed to discover “how our gender creates differences in our lives”, the two try to set aside their differences and work things out. But when the two switch bodies, things start to get stranger than both of them expected.

Why I picked it up: I read a review of the book and then found it on sale at a book fair.

Why I finished it: Nelson has a unique gift for getting into the mind of a middle schooler, much like Judy Blume. The chapters switch viewpoints between Emma and Tom, giving the reader insight as to what goes on in their heads as they learn to navigate the middle school minefield while trying to work out issues of gender and friendship. It is full of humor and there are few pages that I didn’t read where I was not laughing both at the characters and at the remembrance of going through some of the same situations. The book also touches on elements of sex – Tom gets Emma’s first period, and Emma has to figure out what to do when she wakes up in the morning with an erection – and maintains the delicate balance of fact-finding and fear of a changing body. Growing up can be hard, but finding ways to create humor out of a rocky situation can make it almost easier.

Other related materials: Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers, Freaky Monday by Mary Rodgers, Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin, Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez, Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor, Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, Forever…by Judy Blume

 

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