Would it possible to live without gender?
Fifteen year old Jesse lives in a world where babies are born neither male nor female – Compulsory Gender Assignment is carried out at birth. Will the secret she closely guards be found out? Boyfriend Zeus, mother Ana’s Natural Souls, and new friend Ork, leader of We Are One, pull Jesse in different directions, forcing her to make her own mind up about who she really is.
"A highly original and thought-provoking dystopian novel. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it!”
Luisa Plaja, Chicklish, the UK’s Teen Fiction Site
“I think Zeus might have a crush on you,” says Randy over breakfast the next morning.
The family are in the kitchen, sitting around the big, old, oak dining table, a hand-me-down from one of Ana’s friends. Most of their belongings are cast-offs. They are used to relying on the charity of others connected to Natural Souls. Ana has set the table with cereal, orange juice, toast and home-made preserves.
“Shut up,” says Jesse, spooning muesli into her mouth.
“Seriously. Didn’t you notice the way he kept watching you yesterday when you came out into the garden with your tight top on? I don’t think it was just your lemon ice lollies he was drooling at!”
Jesse feels her heart beating a little faster. Zeus is nice, she thinks, but nothing can happen. Zeus is one of the Nine Per Cent. He wouldn’t want her. At least not until afterwards. If she goes through with it.
“I know you like him!” continues Randy in a sing-song voice. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell him your secret!”
“Randy,” says Ana sharply, pouring milk into her bowl. “Don’t wind your sister up before school.”
“I’m not!” protests Randy, rocking his chair backwards and stuffing toast into his mouth. “I’m just saying!”
Jesse carries on eating, feeling her cheeks burn.
Randy gets up from the table and whispers to Jesse on his way out of the kitchen, “He likes you, he likes you!”
Once her brother is out of earshot, Jesse turns to her mother.
“Mum, can I ask you a question?” she says, playing with her spoon, turning it over and over and watching her reflection morph into something grotesque.
“Anything,” says Ana.
“How old were you when you had your first boyfriend? I know it was different for you. You weren’t born like us but…”
“I was fifteen,” replies Ana without hesitating. “The same age you are now. His name was Jack. He was a friend of my brother’s too. He was born like you but he was a boy by the time I met him. It didn’t last, of course.”
“You mean why didn’t it last?” asks Ana, absent-mindedly picking crumbs up off the table. “We were just kids. First love. It wasn’t even love. When George died, well… Jack’s family moved away. It’s just as well or I wouldn’t have met your father and there would have been no Randy or Jesse.”
She looks up at Jesse with a bright smile. Sometimes Jesse wonders what lies beneath her mother’s happy face.
“I wish Dad was here,” says Jesse. “I wish he hadn’t left us.”
“I know, darling, but we have to be strong for one another. Think about what I said about seeing Maya again soon. Now, you don’t want to be late for school, do you?”
Jesse gets up and takes her plates to the sink before grabbing her school bag and heading over to school. Today she has history, biology, religious education and sex education. It will not be a good day. Her bag weighs heavily on her shoulder. She thinks about the text books it contains and what they are teaching her.
About the Book:
Publication date: 5 June 2014
Genre: Young adult (Dystopia)
Author: Shanta Everington
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: Bridge House (Red Telephone Books)
Formats: Paperback and e-book (Mobi only)
About the Author:
Shanta Everington is the author of seven books, including three young adult novels – Give Me a Sign, Boy Red and latest release XY (joint winner of the Red Telephone Books YA Novel Competition). She has had all sorts of jobs in the past, from baking vegan muffins and working as a private tutor to appearing as a guest agony aunt and running a teen sexual health helpline. With an MA in Creative Writing with distinction, Shanta currently teaches Creative Writing with The Open University. She lives in London, UK, with her husband and two children.
Publisher website: http://www.trtpublishing.co.uk/xy.html
Author website: www.shantaeverington.co.uk
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/XY-Shanta-Everington/dp/1907335323/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403088848&sr=8-1&keywords=9781907335327
Amazon USA: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L1P1RPU
Goodreads page: www.goodreads.com/author/show/1419856.Shanta_Everington