From the moment I heard about Kacen Callender’s newest YA novel, Felix Ever After, I was excited to read it! So, you can imagine my absolute joy when Nerds and Beyond was given the amazing opportunity to get an advanced copy! Callender is a winner of both the Stonewall Book Award and Lambda Literary Award. This is their fifth book (second YA novel) and is out today, May 5!
FELIX EVER AFTER is coming out on 5/5/20!
🖤full of self-love & queer pride
🤎chaotic bi MC set on revenge
❤️art summer camp in NYC
🧡rivals/enemies to lovers
💛slow burn, mutual pining
💚protective cin. roll LI
💙trans & enby MC
— Kacen Callender – Felix Ever After link in bio ✨ (@kacencallender) March 4, 2020
All Felix Love wants is to know what it feels like to fall in love, and earn that full scholarship to Brown University of course! But when someone publicly displays Felix’s deadname and pictures of him before he transitioned, along with hateful and transphobic Instagram messages, his new goal is revenge. Deciding to catfish the apparent culprit, Felix begins a journey he hadn’t expected: one of questioning and re-discovering who he is as a person, an artist, a friend, and son, as well as somehow finding himself in a quasi-love triangle! Though he may stumble along the way, Felix learns to truly love himself and maybe even falls in love along the way.
One of the things I love most about this novel is how each character is written. Yes, it’s a love story with a happy ending, but that doesn’t take away the fact that these characters are dealing with their own hardships and self-discoveries. If anything, it makes the characters more real and relatable, especially as they acknowledge their flaws and try to work on them as the story unfolds. Callender makes it a point to reveal some of the characters’ pasts and experiences, not to justify their actions, but to show how our personal experiences can affect our actions and how we see the world, especially as teenagers. Felix Ever After is such an honest piece of writing and a great example of discovering and rediscovering yourself. It tackles the idea that you can change the labels you give yourself as you grow as a person and learn more about yourself and the world around you.
For anyone who has been to New York City, especially during Pride month, Callender captures NYC summer perfectly. From the parks and subways to Times Square and the Pride Parade, the sights, sounds, smells, and descriptions make you feel as though the story is happening right now in the city (pre-COVID-19, of course). Also, can we please take a moment to appreciate the book’s gorgeous cover?! The art was done by Alex Cabal with the design by Chris Kwon. As Callender said themself, it “celebrates a trans boy of color (with top surgery scars!).” I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that the artwork is referred to somewhere in the novel!
I absolutely loved the book and could not put it down. It’s one of those stories that you need to sit with it in your head for a few days once you finish. Even then, the characters will continue to stick with you. Felix Ever After is one of the most genuine Queer YA novels I have read and though I cannot speak for everyone, as a queer person myself, my main thought was where has this story been all my life?! I hope everyone who reads it embraces the messages of self-love and queer-pride that the novel shares. I am so excited for Felix Ever After to be out in the world and I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts! You can find a list of places to buy your copy here!