REVIEW: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Published: 5th May 2020

Publisher: Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers (Print)/ Faber & Faber Audio (Audiobook)

Pages: 354 pages (hardback)/ 8 hours and 23 minutes (audiobook)

Format: Hardback (purchased) and audiobook (via scribd and narrated by Logan Rozas)

RRP: $17.75 (paperback)

5/5 Stars

Felix Ever After From Stonewall and Lambda Award-winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.

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.

This book was a rollercoaster of emotions. I laughed, I cried, I sat on the edge of my seat praying for Felix’s happily ever after. I celebrated Felix and I grieved right alongside them. This book was perfect in the most complicated, honest and pure way of self-discovery and acceptance.  Although I stand behind everything I have said in this review, I urge you to read #ownvoices reviews of this book.

I’m not flaunting anything. I’m just existing. This is me. I can’t hide myself. I can’t disappear. And even if I could, I don’t fucking want to. I have the same right to be here. I have the same right to exist.

Felix Ever After was one of my most hyped and anticipated books of 2020. I struggled for months to get my hands on a copy and when I eventually did, it sat pride of place on my bookshelf begging me to read it. After the great reading slump of 2020-2021, I finally picked up the audiobook of this novel via Scribd and I never looked back. In fact, a couple of times, I had my print copy out, reading along with Logan Rozas narration, because I simply could not get enough.

 The real issue was me realizing that these were things society had assigned to girls, and while I didn’t even know what trans was, something about being forced into the role of girl has always upset the hell out of me.

Felix Love is a son, a best friend, an artist, and a high-schooler in NYC.  They are also black, trans and desperate to fall in love. A romantic at heart, and wiser beyond their years, Felix is forced to fight their way through every minute of every day just to be themselves. Fighting societal expectations and prejudices at every turn, while also questioning their own deep-seated values, beliefs and assumption about themselves. With personal, family, schooling and financial problems mounting high, Felix is fed up, exhausted and hurt beyond belief when a classmate outs their private photos and dead names them to the entire summer school. What follows is a deeply personal narrative about self-acceptance, identity and what it means to be human and in love. It’s a confronting, passionate, horrifying in parts, but also an uplifting story that will make you question your own beliefs and those of everyone around you.

I guess it just feels like I have one marginalisation too many, sometimes.

I loved Felix’s character so much. Right from the very first chapter, thanks to Callender’s amazing writing and Rozas’ narration, I had a really strong grasp of their personality. While Felix was constantly questioning themselves, their friends, family, teachers, peers and the reader, I always felt connected to their character on a bone-deep level. It wasn’t superficial; I felt like I had known this character for years. I felt their anguish, tension and terror as their life spiralled in an unexpected direction. I cried real tears alongside Felix and cheered out loud as though they were my friend. It’s been a long time since a character has captured my heart and soul so strongly. 

What’re you afraid of? Everything. I’m scared I’m not living my life to my full potential. I’m scared I’m wasting my life when I’m meant to be doing something else, something more . . . 

Felix Ever After is a heavy-hitting contemporary novel that hits you like a truck out of nowhere. Written with real emotion via Callender’s own life experiences, the narrative doesn’t hold its punches when it confronts teenage realities, casual racism, homophobia, emotional abuse, physical abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, emotional blackmail, online trolls and never ending bullying, and bucket loads of representation. This book is raw but so poignant and I highly recommend it to everyone. 

It’s easier to accept hurt and pain, sometimes, than love and acceptance.

As far as secondary characters go, I loved Ezra so much. His friendship with Felix was top tier, and I seriously put them up there with Anne and Diana (Anne of Green Gables) as one of my all-time favourite friendship pairings. Unique, sassy, wild and free, Ezra and Felix openly explore the world around them, demanding they be seen, heard and felt in a world that would rather shutter them behind closed doors. These two were serious friendship goals. 

Do yourself a favour and if you haven’t already, pick up a copy of Felix Ever After ASAP. You will not regret it. 

Felix Ever After is being published in Australia by Allen & Unwin in July 2021.

 

This review is featured by Twinkl in their blog about the latest must-read books. See more recommendations and get involved at Book Lovers’ Top Picks For Your 2021 TBR List.

 

To purchase a copy of, visit the following online retailers:

HarperCollinsPublishers (US Publisher | Allen & Unwin (Australian Publisher) | Amazon AUS | Amazon USA | Angus & Robertson | Barnes & Noble | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks |

 

To learn more about Kacen Callender, visit the following social media pages:

Kacen Callender’s Website | Twitter | Goodreads |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.