My Crunchy Life

Young Adult - Social Issues
180 Pages
Reviewed on 06/17/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

Sometimes a book comes along that is so outstanding that words fail a reviewer. My Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick is one of those books. A quick glance at the cover might lead you to think this is just a fun book for teens. But you’d be wrong. While My Crunchy Life is indeed aimed at young adults, and much of the time is delivered with humor, its focus is very serious and addresses a key contemporary, actually timeless social issue: gender identity. At the center of this delightful and beautiful story are Kale and Julian. Mia Kerick alternates the narration between these two teens. They are good kids with loving parents, but caught up in their own issues, though Julian at least has been able to be fully open with his mom. Julian has known since he was a child that he is a girl in a male body. He hates it, has confided fully in his mother, and with her endless support is transitioning to a woman.

Kale is all male but confused. Could he be gay? He feels attracted to Julian, but doesn’t have a clue that Julian wants to be Julia. He avoids confronting his own issues by embracing different lifestyles: he tries to be a hippie, eat vegetarian only while his father serves up hot dogs and pulled pork, and has the hardest time being kind to his “brosin”, Hubie, his brother/cousin who lives with Kale and his dad after a troubled earlier life with his own mother. Kale is constantly doing mental gymnastics as he tries to sort through all his problems. Another contemporary teen issue which both Julian and Kale face is bullying from the unkind mouths of their schoolmates. Kerick does a superb job of capturing that nastiness, and the heartache it causes the victims in a language teens understand. Teens will find themselves reading My Crunchy Life and wondering if Kerick knows them personally: it’s that accurate. This is an author who sees deeply into the hearts and minds of people and is gifted at delivering all the accompanying emotions on paper.

Through incredibly witty plays on words, humour, and lots of empathy, Mia Kerick has written a book that is not just for young adults, but for parents who truly care about what their children might be struggling with, but are hesitant to discuss with anyone. My Crunchy Life opens doors to allow communication to begin. Kerick has written several books addressing important teen issues and won deserved awards for doing so. If these issues matter to you, this is an author you need to know about and whose books should be on your bucket list. Brilliant! I can't express how much I enjoyed this book.

Jack Magnus

My Crunchy Life is a young adult, romantic coming of age novel written by Mia Kerick. Kale Oswald took his hippie identity quite seriously. He had given up the meat feasts his father delighted in cooking for the family in favor of kale, peanut butter and granola, and had begun the arduous and intensive practice of growing dreadlocks. Realizing that hippies needed worthy causes to promote, Kale decided to stop by the next meeting of the Rights for Every Human Organization. He felt somewhat strange listening to the group leader discussing love and selflessness and was tempted to roll his eyes when she asked all there to join hands. Each member introduced him or herself to Kale, and as Kale was laboriously working through his own introduction, his eyes were drawn to the latecomer who was somewhat elaborately posed on the stairs. Something about Julian Mendez attracted and repelled Kale, and he couldn’t figure out the why or the wherefore of it.

Julian had tried to kill himself some months before, and had it not been for the prompt actions of a delivery man, he would have succeeded. The result of his attempt was for him to finally admit to his mom that he was a girl -- not a boy -- and to share with her his growing horror of puberty and the masculine changes that were taking place in his body. His mom was caring and supportive and the two of them were navigating the maze of medical care for transgendered youth. The puberty suppression drugs had given him time to get the counseling and medical testing necessary before embarking on hormone replacement therapy. He found two “volunteer” friends who’d walk him to classes to discourage the haters from attacking him. Dr. Evelyn had suggested that becoming a part of REHO would be a good fit for him to do his own volunteer work and to become socially aware and active.

Mia Kerick’s romantic coming of age novel for young adults, My Crunchy Life, is a sensitive and sweet story about love that transcends gender. I read this book quite slowly because I wanted to get every little bit out of the story. There’s so much in it. We see the struggles a transgender teen faces not only in coming out to family and friends, but in dealing with the random bullies and tormentors in school. Kale’s reactions are particularly of interest as he first tries to deal with the possibility that he is gay, based on his growing attraction to Julian, and then we witness his complete confusion when he meets Julia for the first time. Kerick’s characters shine and they do so most brilliantly. I soon felt as though I had known Kale, Hughie, Julia, Anna and Kandy for years. Kerick’s plot is marvelously crafted, and the romance is as sweet and awesome as first love should be. My Crunchy Life is an extraordinarily good read. It’s most highly recommended.

Rosie Malezer

My Crunchy Life is a dramatic tale of friendship and bullying written by Mia Kerick. Julian Mendez and Kale Oswald both attend Crestdale High School which has a strict No Bullying policy. Regardless, a transgender teenager, who had survived a suicide attempt, crosses paths with a student who feels born into the wrong body. Both are bullying victims of Sydney Harper – a student who has her eye on the prize of school valedictorian, and who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Sydney’s methods of obtaining the title are both sinister and cruel, but help forge an unlikely friendship between Julian and Kale, which not only unifies them in solidarity against Sydney’s spite and hatred, but also brings an end to the constant pain of two tortured lives.

This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read with such a strong anti-bullying message. Mia Kerick’s tale bears an uncanny resemblance to a film titled The Breakfast Club, with complete outcasts finding each other through their strengths, weaknesses and similarities. What is ironic is that the bully in My Crunchy Life does her best to utterly destroy two lives, but ends up strengthening them instead, even empowering them against her attacks both in person and on social media. I shed many tears while reading the story of Julian and Kale, as it mirrored my own childhood on many levels. My Crunchy Life puts a human face on what bullying and being different is all about. I absolutely love the message behind the story, and am reading it now for a second time. I wholeheartedly recommend My Crunchy Life to readers over the age of 12 years who are coming into their own identity, while questioning whether being themselves is worth the pain and effort. I will be seeking out Mia Kerick’s books in the future as top quality books like My Crunchy Life are such a rarity these days.