I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I like romantic fiction, but it usually takes a while for me to get attached to the characters if I ever get attached at all. I like really niche romantic fiction and I think that Stay Gold really hit all of the marks. I absolutely love Pony and all of the characters in the book. While he’s called Ponyboy at times (and of course "the Outsiders reference of the Frost poem” reference in the title), this book really didn’t have much parallels to The Outsiders much. I’m glad for that, because I like this book better than The Outsiders. I was, however, kind of taken aback at how dark this book got at times. I started reading it expecting for it to be fluffy and romantic for the most part, but this book includes suicidal thoughts, self harm, public outing, and death. Yikes. I think that it’s better that way though, because I feel like I learned a lot about trans experiences. The dark moments made it more realistic. Pony’s relationship with his family was fantastically written-- horrible and still (unfortunately for the reader’s heart, I guess) as 3D as the rest of the book. I love his sister, though. She is an amazing side character. All in all, Pony stole my heart. I also love Georgia too. Her family is well written as well and while I disliked Georgia at times (because sue me, I mostly side with the main character), I really like her character. Her flaws make her more unique. The Pony and Georgia scenes are so adorable. Tobly McSmith’s voice really shows and I think that it’s so important to read a book such as this one-- a book about a trans person written by a trans person. My only criticism of it is that all throughout the story, there are discussions of Pony going “stealth mode” and refusing to out himself. Other than romance, the book kind of revolves around being “out and proud”. In my opinion, the narrative could have delved more into that discussion. At some point, Pony’s best friend threatened to end their friendship when Pony refused to take a risk that could out himself. The story didn’t really focus on how Max had an entirely different experience in the world (how his family and friends all are supportive, his experience at a liberal arts school, etc.) and that felt a little weird. Max also called Pony brave for coming out and getting assaulted for it. The book focuses a lot on transphobia, which is understandable, but if I could change one thing about it, then I wish it’d focus more on the consequences and complexities of being “out and proud” instead of mostly sticking a middle finger to transphobes. All around a great book, though!
About This Book
Debut author Tobly McSmith delivers a coming-of-age teen love story about a transgender boy who’s going stealth at his new Texas high school and a cisgender girl who is drawn to him, even as she’s counting down the days until graduation. Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Becky Albertalli, and Jenny Han. Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom. Georgia is beginning to think there’s more to life than cheerleading. She plans on keeping a low profile until graduation…which is why she promised herself that dating was officially a no-go this year. Then, on the very first day of school, the new guy and the cheerleader lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? How is Georgia supposed to keep her promise when sparks start flying with a boy like Pony? Funny and poignant, clear-eyed and hopeful, Stay Gold is a story about finding love—and finding yourself.