Lily and Dunkin – book review & personal story

Me, age 13, throwing a fit before leaving for middle school. You can see my father taking the photo in the mirror, he found my middle grade stress humorous.
Me, age 13, throwing a fit before leaving for middle school. You can see my father taking the photo in the mirror, he found my middle grade stress humorous.

I’ve read all four of Donna Gephart’s books and loved them all. Which meant when her latest book landed on the book shelf I had to read it. Lily and Dunkin is a middle grade book centered around being transgender and bipolar disorder.

For me, middle grade was horrible (and I was dealing with neither of the above mentioned)! Flat out worst time of my life. My friends from elementary school were starting to smoke and we went in different directions leaving me alone in a big scary building. I was in search of a female role model (my mom had passed at this point and I didn’t have a relationship with my step-mom) and located one. Her name was Sarah, and she was great at everything and pretty too. She played every sport the school offered! And she was nice enough to befriend me before she went off to high school. Yet, because of me looking up to her I got called a lesbian more times than I could count. I would sit outside Mrs. Adam’s classroom door and cry at least once a week. I had boyfriends non-stop and so if I said “I’m not a lesbian I have a boyfriend” then they would call me bi-sexual. I started spending a lot of time napping in the nurses office with a “stomach ache.”

I loved the private thoughts of Lily and Dunkin that covered the first several chapters. Even as adults we have these conversations with ourselves about other people, when we don’t know what others are thinking, we assume. Gephart showcases this brilliantly. (I will say I saw cheering for Bob more than anything).

When I first heard the summary of this book I was a bit surprised. While I know children at this reading age group have these experiences, I was thinking more like “the publishing company didn’t say no?”

Gephart has courage, her agent, editors and publisher have courage. As an author I have thought about topics to write about that would spark both sides. I didn’t know if I would have the courage to put something out there and “see”, maybe now, I might.




  1. Enjoyed reading about your school experience. School is hard. My parents divorced when I was in the 5th grade. We changed schools a lot after that. I didn’t have your experiences but hated it just as much. It’s hard always being the new kid. I think you should be brave and write about everything you want.

    • Thank you Lisa ๐Ÿ™‚ My parents divorced when I was about 3. Then we moved around a lot!! I was lucky to remain in the same school district from 4th grade through 12th grade, before then I think we moved every 1 or 2 years. I think I might be brave ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Enjoyed your review. Sorry your middle grade years were so miserable. You didn’t deserve that. I remember being shy and wishing I was someone else. I’ll definitely write that into one of the MG novels I’m writing now.

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