In a stunning queer YA reimagining of The Great Gatsby, National Book Award long-listed author Anna-Marie McLemore (The Mirror Season; Dark and Deepest Red) enraptures readers with teen characters attempting to thrive in 1920s Manhattan high society while covertly expressing their true identities.
Narrator Nicolás Caraveo is a transgender Mexican American whose cousin, Daisy, convinces him to leave Wisconsin and join her in New York City. When Nick arrives, he is shocked that his brown-skinned cousin presents herself as white and lies about herself to beau Tom Buchanan. Nick feels like an outsider and is dismayed by Daisy, her fashionable friends and their seemingly vapid lifestyle. Yet he soon becomes enamored with his socialite neighbor and fellow trans man Jay Gatsby. With Gatsby's help, Nick learns to see through the shiny veneers into the true identities their peers hide to remain safe. As a friend tells Nick, "There'll always be someone trying to make you apologize for something about who you are. But you learn not to feel it quite as much."
McLemore's depictions of richly hued fashion and lavish parties paint a vivid picture of this tony era. An overt mystery--Daisy's loss of a $350,000 pearl necklace gifted to her by Tom--combined with the hidden motivations of myriad characters riddles the plot with excitement and uncertainty. Meanwhile, the veracity of Nick's first-person limited point of view is brought into question by Daisy's occasional private letters to loved ones. Self-Made Boys draws back the proverbial curtain to reveal the complicated, painful and desperately romantic yearnings of youth. --Kieran Slattery, freelance reviewer, teacher, co-creator of Gender Inclusive Classrooms