Contemporary Young Adult
Available October 11th
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.
Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?
Beast is a beautiful contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast, calling into question the standard definitions of both words as we look through the eyes of a young man struggling to find any semblance of comfort in his own skin.
We're treated to Dylan's point of view throughout, his self-deprecating sense of humor making us laugh right out of the gate even as we hurt for him, feeling the sting of casually flung words that strike far deeper than likely intended. He loathes his appearance, wanting desperately to be shorter and smoother so that his days might not be filled with laughter directed at him but rather with him thanks to packaging that better reflects the man he feels he is. He's a sympathetic character from the beginning, and we can't help but feel as overprotective as his adorable (and text-obsessed) mother when those around him tear at his self-confidence with insult-tipped claws.
He meets Jamie in group therapy, and having a gorgeous young woman actually talk to him–rather than look at him in fear and then recount her close encounter with the Beast to her friends later–gives him cause for a genuine smile instead of a forced one. He misses the fact that Jamie is trans when she admits it in group, but thankfully that misunderstanding doesn't continue too long, and we're spared the drawn-out suspense of knowing something Dylan doesn't while his relationship with Jamie unfolds. Though he doesn't handle it well in the moment, he does make a valiant effort to apologize to Jamie, and we get to spend the latter half of the book watching as Dylan gets out of his own way and lets his heart do the thinking.
Overall, Beast is a quick read with a truly lovable male protagonist who gets tripped up by perception and the opinions of others, but manages to get up again and walks away seeing clearer for having done so.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.