Just Imagine

Nothing Ever Happens Here

Authored by Sarah Hagger-Holt
Published by Usborne

This is a medium-length novel which explores the ripple effect on a young girl of her father’s transitioning to a woman.

Twelve-year-old Izzy is suddenly confronted with the news that her father is taking the first steps in the process of assuming a new identity as a woman. During the course of the book she is challenged to come to terms not only with the change in her family’s internal relationships and how her community judges the event but also with the apparent loss of her best friend, though for a reason not directly connected to her new family situation.

In a note to the reader, the author, Sarah Hagger-Holt, says her intention was to present the trans characters in the book not as though they were an ‘issue’ but ‘as people getting on with their daily lives like anyone else.’ She certainly succeeds in this aim by making ‘Dee’ (as Dad is re-named) into almost a dependable wartime figure, ready in the background with cups of tea and the family’s favourite macaroni cheese at times of crisis.The focus is more on the other important things in Izzy’s life –  her part in the school production which gives her a much-needed opportunity to take centre stage for a short while, and especially on her valued friendship with Grace, which comes under severe strain during the course of events. She has to deal both with this and with the inevitable bullying from some of her peers, grows in the process, and finally finds her own authentic and public voice. Everything is perhaps resolved a little too neatly in the end, but the positive message is strongly conveyed.

As a book about diversity, but also because it’s a good contemporary read which plausibly reflects the problems and issues any young person may face in their life, I would recommend its inclusion in any upper KS2/lower KS3 class library.