Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender

Yeah, so, I’m not a contemporary reader. The older I get, the more I realise that it’s connected to growing up in a very different setting to the ones represented in most books – Switzerland is an utterly different world to the UK or US that it’s a completely different conversation from the diversity conversations that are had in publishing at the moment. And this is not me complaining – merely musing on why I’ve been struggling to relate to contemporary stories, especially in a YA space. But then, there come these rare gems that transcend that by being such powerful stories of self-discovery that they leave a profound impact on the reader. And Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender is such a story.

Many many thanks to Bethany Carter and Faber Books for sending me an ARC of Felix Ever After for review. All opinions are my own.

RELEASE DATE: 18/05/2021

STAR RATING: 5/5 ✶

SUMMARY: Felix Love has never been in love – and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalisation too many – Black, queer and transgender – to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages – after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned – Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle . . .

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

OPINIONS: Hi, yes, this broke me. I love it with my whole heart, but it also led to much questioning of my whole identity – in a good way. Felix’ struggles with coming to terms with his identity and figuring out who he is deep down are extremely relatable and dig deeper than your average contemporary YA novel. While the setting of it is deeply rooted in its YA story, the issues that Felix faces are universal, and are ones that confront adults in their twenties, even their thirties just as much.

What are our relationships with our friends at their core? Who are we, really? And who do we value most? While I obviously can’t speak to the portrayal of the black or transgender experience, this twenty-eight year old queer got reaffirmed in queerness and discovered new things about myself that I was not able to put into words before. It is really to Kacen’s credit that they can manage to write such excellent books in a variety of genres – I haven’t read their middle grade books, but I really liked Queen of the Conquered and King of the Rising, the duology is nominated for the Subjective Kind of Chaos Awards, and you can read my review for King here. Not many authors show that range and sustained level of quality throughout all of their ventures, I am impressed. They are a treasure and I can’t wait to see where their career takes them next.

This really is a brilliant book throughout, and one that transcends over its status as a YA novel. It is highly recommended for anyone who might be thinking about their own gender or sexuality, or just generally likes to read widely. I love it with my whole heart even if it destroyed me at times.

The entire first print run of the UK paperback will have AMAZING flowery sprayed edges. So I highly suggest you actually pre-order this one and don’t just wait until you maybe see it in a bookshop at some point, because you might miss out on the epic first edition. Add Felix Ever After to Goodreads here, and pre-order your copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

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