Hello and welcome to our monthly Read the Rainbow discussion spotlight! Well it’s bimonthly this time because the more queer books and discussions we have the better 🙂
Read the Rainbow is a spotlight for queer books, authors and readers. Every month, I’ll be hosting an interview or discussion centered around a queer book. The interviews will be conducted with authors and the discussions will take place with #ownvoice readers for each book. Every month, I’ll be announcing the book of the month for Read the Rainbow so that everyone can read the book before the spotlight, although it is not a necessity.
Our second June BOTM is Felix Ever After written by Kacen Callender featuring a transgender, demiboy character with own-voice representation as well as gay, bi and lesbian side-characters.
Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself. Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.
I’m so excited to have Enne and Lori on the blog today to discuss Felix Ever After 🙂
As per usual the discussion remains spoiler-free.
Enne (they/them) is an avid reader of all things YA and a book blogger over at Our Worlds of Words. They also love writing and baking. Some of their favorite reads include Radio Silence, Wild Beauty, and I Wish You All The Best.
Lori (they/them) is an aspec book blogger over at The Reading Fairy. They love YA fantasy and contemporary when it comes to AOC.
1. Just from reading the blurb and looking at the cover what were your thoughts or expectations from this book? Did your expectations hold?
ENNE: I was really excited when I originally saw the cover reveal for this book. From the cover, I was expecting a light-hearted summery contemporary/romance. And while this book definitely has elements of a light-hearted summery contemporary, it’s also a lot more than that. Overall, I would definitely say that my expectations held and were even exceeded!
LORI: I was excited. I was looking at the cover, and the one thing that drew me in was Felix’s top surgery scars and I knew I had to put it in my TBR. When the date got closer, I was beyond excited and it held my expectations quite a bit. FELIX EVER AFTER is such a cute book and it’s a rom-com.
2. What did you think of the characters and who did you relate to most?
ENNE: I absolutely adored the characters in this book. I think Kacen Callender really succeeded at showcasing just how messy and complex teens can be with this book. No one’s thoughts or actions are really clear cut in this book and I really appreciated that. As for the character who I related to most, I would have to say Felix. Him questioning his gender already knowing he was trans was something that deeply resonated with me and I also definitely saw parts of myself and my relationship with my parents in Felix’s relationship with his dad.
LORI: I really liked the characters. There were some that annoyed me due to reasons found out in the book. Without a doubt, Felix was the one I related to mostly. Even though I got lucky with having accepting parents, they tend to ignore anything queer and thinks I’m a straight girl. Felix was written messy and so was his feelings. I saw quite a bit of myself in him that mirrored my own, and I couldn’t help just relate to him especially as he was written to be a teenager.
3. Without giving any spoilers, tell us about your favourite parts or scenes in the book.
ENNE: Honestly if I could, I would just name the entire book because I adored every second of it. But if I had to pick, I would definitely choose the scene where Felix goes to an LGBTQ+ support group. Oh, and also the scene at the pride parade!
LORI: I had two of my at-most favorite scenes. The Support Group was one of the favorites especially of the person who had they/them pronouns written on their name-tag. The other one was Declan’s grandfather scene that I found quite cute!
4. Did you relate to Felix’s questioning of his gender and sexuality throughout the book or were your own experiences different?
ENNE: I related immensely to the way Felix’s questioning of his gender was written. The experience of knowing that you’re trans, but struggling to find a specific label for it is something that I think a lot of people can relate to, but it isn’t something that’s talked about often. I really appreciated how Felix Ever After shone a light on that part of the trans experience. I’m constantly questioning both my gender and my sexuality and looking for a label that fits right. Seeing Felix’s experience with that meant the world to me.
LORI: I related quite a bit with Felix’s questioning of both his gender and sexuality. I’ve been questioning my gender for a while because I never quite fitted with identifying as female. It felt like there was something missing like I was an outcast in my own body. It was so messy when it came to my sexuality as I was bouncing between some labels, because I couldn’t find something that fits me before something clicked. Karen Callender wrote the messiness that involves figuring out who you are, instead of just having the MC be confident with who they are on the queer spectrum.
5. Felix Ever After explored a lot of themes and topics like love, sexuality, friendships, homophobia etc. Which one did you feel was explored the best?
ENNE: I loved the themes Kacen Callender chose to explore in this book and the way they went about it. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite because I loved every single one that was explored. But if I had to pick one, I would go with the exploration of bigotry within the queer community. I feel like a lot of the time, the queer community is portrayed as this safe and accepting space for everyone, when that often isn’t true. A lot of the time the queer community is only a safe space for cis white people and I really appreciated that this was a theme that was discussed in this book and the way it was done.
LORI: I don’t think I could really pick one with the themes that was explored, but honestly the bigotry in the queer community. Everyone thinks that the space is safe for everyone, but it definitely has its faults. Even within the community, there’s always prejudiced and bigotry for who you are, and whether you’re really valid enough to be in the community.
6. This book explores a lot of relationships whether toxic or positive. Which relationship did you like reading about the most and why?
ENNE: I loved the different relationships that were explored in this book, but my favorite by far was the relationship between Felix and his best friend, Ezra. I really appreciated the way both of them are always there for each other and able to rely on each other. I also loved the way the relationship was developed over the course of the story and I really appreciated the direction it took.
LORI: The relationship between Ezra and Felix! They’re best friends who support each other and they are always there for each other. Just like all friends, they had their rough patches but the friendship in this book!
7. If you had to pitch Felix Ever After as a combination of two or more books, movies or tv shows which one would you choose?
ENNE: How To Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters meets If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann
LORI: Simon Vs the Homosapiens Agenda meets Love, Victor
Charvi: Omg Lori I can’t tell you how happy that sentence made me cause it’s spot on!
8. Lastly, if you were to write a short letter to either this book or the author, what would you write?
ENNE: I would thank the author for writing a book that really captured how messy and complicated teens can be. And I would also thank them for writing a character that questions their gender because we don’t see a lot of questioning rep in YA (or in general). But most of all, I would tell them that I really appreciated the way this book discussed the pain that comes with being a Black trans person while not centering the narrative on that. I love that we get to see a happy ending despite all the bigotry that Felix has to deal with over the course of the story.
LORI: Thank you for writing this amazing story. It really meant a lot to me in seeing someone who is just like me (non-cisgender) who questions their identity. The messiness that involves questioning either one’s gender and/or sexuality felt so relatable, and it made me want to cry.
Thank you Enne and Lori for such a wonderful discussion. Felix Ever After has become my favourite book and I’m so happy to see that everyone is loving it!
I hope you all enjoyed the Read the Rainbow discussions for this month 🙂 Before you go, I would like to announce our next book of the month for July. Or should I say next BOTMs… That’s right, I’m going overboard with two books because there are so many exciting queer books releasing recently!
You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson features a black and sapphic MC with anxiety along with a sapphic love interest, BIPOC side characters and a black brother with sickle cell anemia. I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee features a fat, bi MC with bi and lesbian side characters.
Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.
But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.
The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?
The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.
Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.
She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.
When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.
But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.
Have you read Felix Ever After? If yes, what are your thoughts on it? If not, is it on your TBR?
I’m always looking for more wonderful trans and non-binary representation in YA books so please let me know if you have any in mind!
What’s the first book that you read which made you feel seen?