Book review by Aarene Storms: Gender Queer

Monday, December 6, 2021

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

In 5th grade, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, had the feeling that everybody else had access to information that e lacked — not an uncommon feeling for 5th graders. 

This feeling persisted through high school and college, and always seemed to center around gender identity. Maia doesn’t identify as female, but e doesn’t feel like a guy, either. What is e?

The answers are explored in this gentle graphic novel-format memoir. Maia does a lot of identity exploration and discovers a lot of identities that don't feel quite right. 

Readers will intuit that the search is ongoing, and that there may be more discoveries in the future. No matter what, Maia is a sympathetic protagonist who patiently explains the confusion and frustration of living a non-binary life amidst people who mean well but often guess wrong when trying to understand. 

There is a lot of controversy over this book right now, including attacks by politicians, school boards, and parents upset about certain sexual situations and images. Significantly, many of these would-be censors say that they have not read the entire book, and are reacting only to a few select pages and images.

Maia’s story is 239 pages long, and taking a few pages out of context destroys the entire purpose of the book: to tell about eir entire journey.  

Don’t take somebody’s word for it (not even mine!): read the entire book for yourself. Many libraries carry electronic copies of Gender Queer through an e-comic service called “hoopla” which offers unlimited checkouts of items with no waiting.   

I highly recommend this book for readers ages 14 and up, especially those who question their own place in the rainbow and those who love someone they don’t entirely understand.  

Sexual situations, a few cuss words, bullying, engaging art work, thought-provoking story. Extra stars to the author and illustrator for citing scientific and literary sources within the work.

Aarene Storms is a librarian who reads and reviews books for all ages. She can be reached at 


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