Review: Lily & Dunkin by Donna Gephardt

Lily and Dunkin

Lily & Dunkin first came into my life in the form of a vox from a friend.  Had I read this book?  If not, please do.  The only problem was that it had not been published yet and so like many others, I waited forever it seemed for the book to show up on my doorstep.  It was worth the wait.

In the pages a gentle story unfolds of an unlikely friendship between two teenagers, both struggling; Lily (or Tim as she was born a boy) is trying to make the world come to terms with how she feels and Dunkin with where he fits in the world.  Both of their stories are so well-written.  Both of their stories deserve to be read by children.

We teach so many kids, especially in middle school and high school, that it often takes us months to uncover even slivers of who they really are.  We may think that we have all of the books we need for our students to find themselves within their pages, and yet, time and time again I am reminded of the variety of books we need to make sure that not only is every child is represented, but also that every child can find themselves.  Lily & Dunkin is beautifully written, with care to represent these two stories so that in their humanity comes our understanding.  I am proud to place this book in our library, to booktalk it to my 7th graders and to pass it into the hands of my students.  This book does not just belong in middle school, I think it could be used with 5th graders as well.

From Goodreads:

Sometimes our hearts see things our eyes can’t.

Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade.

Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.

One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.

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