Title: Mick & Michelle
Author: Nina Rossing
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Length: 230 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Teen Fiction, Transgender
At a Glance: Mick & Michelle is a nice portrait of one transgender teen in a small neighborhood in New York trying to figure out how to finally start living her true life without upsetting the balance too much, or hurting anyone she cares about.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Mick Mullins has a great life: his parents are sweet, his sister is tolerable, and his friendships are solid. But as summer descends on Queens, he prepares to turn his carefree existence upside down by disclosing a secret he has kept long enough. It’s time to work up the courage to reveal that he is not a boy, but a girl—and that her name is Michelle. Having always been the perfect, good boy, Michelle is terrified that the complicated truth will disappoint, hurt, or push away the people closest to her. She can’t continue hiding for much longer, though, because her body is turning into that of a man’s, and she is desperate to stop the development—desperate enough to consider self-medicating with hormones.
Most of all, Michelle fears that Grandpa, who is in a nursing home after a near fatal stroke, won’t survive the shock if he finds out that his favorite grandchild, and the only boy, is a girl. If she kills her beloved Grandpa by leaving Mick behind, she isn’t sure embracing her real identity will be worth the loss.
Review: Though it’s her third publication with Dreamspinner’s YA imprint, Harmony Ink Press, Mick & Michelle is the first book I’ve read by author Nina Rossing. I was intrigued by her first two books when they came out, but something about this cover and the blurb for Mick/Michelle’s story grabbed me. The book’s title includes both of the title character’s names for a reason, obviously, and at one point she does say that she is somehow both Mick and Michelle at the same time, as her life as Mick won’t be erased—and she wouldn’t want it to be—but, who she truly is, and the name she desperately wishes for her family and friends to call her is Michelle. So, I will mainly refer to her as Michelle.
When we first meet Michelle, she is two weeks away from turning sixteen, and beginning to feel a sense of panic about being trapped in Mick’s body. No one in her family suspects what is going on with her—what, in fact, she has known to be true for a few years—but, as puberty threatens to take a firmer hold of her body, she knows she’s running out of time to not only talk to her family but to get the help she needs to stop the changes from progressing any further. I can’t imagine the uncertainty felt by someone faced with sharing that type of news with people. As the story moved along, I felt myself getting so nervous about everyone’s reactions, especially Michelle’s parents and grandpa. I thought Rossing did a good job with expressing Michelle’s emotions along the way as well. So many worries, fears and questions.
Will I cease to exist, like the people on the wall, when I leave Mick behind? What will happen to the memories of me? All those pictures of me as a boy, hanging by the last flight of stairs. Are they still valid?
I loved her bravery and strength so much, though. She keeps researching and planning, never wavering in who she is or what she wants.
I keep surfing the net, searching for new stories about people like me, as if that provides any clear-cut answer and solutions to the mystery that is me. The distance between the information out there and my life in our tiny house in Woodside is so massive…
I read happy stories, despondent stories, tragic stories. I compare myself to every story but find nothing that matches exactly or close enough. I must make up my own story, carve out my own path.
The overall tone of the book is fairly light, though there are certainly some serious moments. And, I thought Michelle’s voice was very authentic. There were a few word choices that seemed a little dated or off, but for the most part it absolutely sounded like a teenager’s point of view. I loved that Michelle was such a rule follower and that she wanted to be a cop, just like her parents. She was extremely close to her parents and sister, who we learn she has been sporadically stealing things like clothes and jewelry from and putting them away in a box. The entire Mullins clan’s family dynamic was fantastic. Probably my favorite thing about the book was how tight-knit they all are. Michelle was so, so worried about telling everyone about herself, but in particular her grandpa, who she was very close to. I don’t want to ruin anything by spoiling who reacts to Michelle’s news in what way, but I thought the mix of reactions seemed realistic.
Mick & Michelle is a nice portrait of one transgender teen in a small neighborhood in New York trying to figure out how to finally start living her true life without upsetting the balance too much, or hurting anyone she cares about. I enjoyed the entire story, but especially the last third. I actually wish the author could have included a small epilogue of some kind, so that we could have seen how things were going for Michelle down the road. Good stuff overall! I hope that others enjoy it, too.
You can buy Mick & Michelle here: