Some Assembly Required:  The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews

Seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews shares all the hilarious, painful, and poignant details of undergoing gender reassignment as a high school student in this winning memoir.

We’ve all felt uncomfortable in our own skin at some point, and we’ve all been told that “it’s just a part of growing up.” But for Arin Andrews, it wasn’t a phase that would pass. He had been born in the body of a girl and there seemed to be no relief in sight…

In this revolutionary memoir, Arin details the journey that led him to make the life-transforming decision to undergo gender reassignment as a high school junior. In his captivatingly witty, honest voice, Arin reveals the challenges he faced as a girl, the humiliation and anger he felt after getting kicked out of his private school, and all the changes—both mental and physical—he experienced once his transition began. Arin also writes about the thrill of meeting and dating a young transgender woman named Katie Hill…and the heartache that followed after they broke up.

Some Assembly Required is a true coming-of-age story about knocking down obstacles and embracing family, friendship, and first love. But more than that, it is a reminder that self-acceptance does not come ready-made with a manual and spare parts. Rather, some assembly is always required.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—In this memoir, a female-born, transgender teenager describes the challenges presented by his transition. Andrews was always pleased to be called a tomboy as a child; in spite of his body, he felt like a boy, and his mother’s insistence that he wear dresses and take part in pageants was painful. Andrews’s relationship with his first girlfriend, a lesbian, helped him become aware of the fluidity of gender and sexuality and realize that it wasn’t so bad to be different. However, his mother saw his girlfriend as a terrible influence and forbade the boy from seeing her. Andrews struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts: Who was he? Why did he feel soout of place? A YouTube video introduced the teen to the idea of being transgender. With the help of a family therapist specializing in genderdysphoria and an adolescentLGBT support group, Andrews began the journey toward transition and taking on his true identity. Readers will find many useful resources at the end, such as organizations, websites, and YouTube channels. The teen writes frankly and bravely about his transition and romantic relationships. This nonfiction account from an actual transgender teen author—as opposed to a novel, such as Cris Beam’s I Am J (Little, Brown, 2011)—is enlightening. The tone is more journalistic than personal, which may hold some readers at arm’s length, but this is still a solid addition.—Brandy Danner, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA


“This is a brave book that handles complicated and sensitive topics honestly and, at times, with humor.” (Publishers Weekly)“[A] plainspoken and sometimes humorous memoir…background information about societal gender expectations and physical transition processes fit in easily among typical teenage concerns like love, heartbreak and prom. Friendly and informative.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“How do you begin to understand who you are when you don’t even know the word for it, and no one else in your community does either? Arin Andrews has found the words now, and they’re poignant and startling.” (Ellen Wittlinger, award-winning author of Parrotfish, Hard Love and Love & Lies.)

“Arin’s gutsy and important coming-of-age memoir is a must-read for anyone who has ever felt alone, marginalized, or ‘other.’ Sad, funny, and completely real.” (Susan Kuklin, author and photographer of Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out)

“[Arin Andrews] writes frankly and bravely about his transition and romantic relationships. This nonfiction account…is enlightening.” (School Library Journal)

“Teens will feel for [Arin], root for him, and learn a lot about the costs and complexities of gender transition.” (VOYA)


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