Review by Ivy

“We only get one chance at life. I couldn’t spend another day stuck because I was worried about what people thought of me.” – Tobly McSmith

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Georgia is one of the head cheerleaders at Hillcrest High. She’s peppy, beautiful, and an undercover journalism nerd. Pony is new to Addison, Texas. He’s observant, funny, and quietly transgender. They’re both keeping secrets to fit in, and it’s keeping them from a sparking romance. What follows is Stay Gold, a novel that is honest, hilarious, and a hell-of-a wild ride.

Tobly McSmith is a debut author and his first stab at YA was certainly successful. The story is neat and tidy, with a clean arc and just the right amount of unique side-characters. Pony and Georgia’s objectives and personalities are clear, perfectly weaved into the dual-perspective writing. The ending felt somewhat rushed but was, of course, wrapped up in a satisfactory, albeit cheesy, way.

As far as reliability goes, I was drawn more to Pony than anyone else. I could relate to his struggles with queerness, but other than that we didn’t have much in common. This proves that McSmith’s writing was on point, perfectly conveying complicated feelings about identity and expression, many of which I shared. It also proves how important Own Voices literature is (McSmith is trans), as I’ve read books with trans characters written by cis authors that have been disturbingly inaccurate.

“This proves that McSmith’s writing was on point, perfectly conveying complicated feelings about identity and expression, many of which I shared.”

Georgia was less likable in my opinion, many of her actions towards Pony hurtful. However, McSmith delicately wrote these scenes in a way that I hope will enable readers to realize when Georgia has crossed the line. Other than some of her more dramatic moments, I found Georgia to be a fairly bland but nonetheless entertaining heroine, her side of the story almost as captivating as Pony’s.

Overall, Stay Gold is a fresh and comforting read that left me smiling and satisfied. Although it rarely broached deep topics, the story had enough weight to tug on my heartstrings. A good read for queer youth and a great read for YA contemporary fans looking for a more realistic rom-com, Tobly McSmith’s debut is, like Pony, a stealthy fighter with plenty of heart.

Rating: four cherry limeade Slushes/five

Buy Stay Gold here!

Read Stay Gold & take Ivy’s Quiz: Which Stay Gold Character Are You?

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