Too Bright to See

Too Bright to See cover
Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff

Written by Kyle Lukoff
Dial, 2021
192 pages

Ages 8-12

Bug and Bug’s mom are grieving Bug’s Uncle Roderick, who lived with them and recently passed away after a long illness. It was Uncle Roderick who taught Bug about ghosts, so when spooky things start happening–doors open and close, objects moved around–Bug suspects it’s Uncle Roderick, trying to communicate something important. While snooping in Uncle Roderick’s room to figure out what that might be, Bug finds pamphlets about what it means to be transgender. Uncle Roderick was an out gay man and a drag queen, but Bug begins to wonder: Had Uncle Roderick been transgender and afraid to come out? Meanwhile, Bug’s best friend Moira has discovered makeup and boys and wants to give Bug a makeover before the start of sixth grade, despite Bug’s disinterest. Bug, white, has always felt awkward, but knows a makeover isn’t the answer to figuring out being a girl. Pondering everything, including the stranger Bug sometimes see when looking in the mirror, Bug finally realizes that Uncle Roderick wanted Bug to know it’s ok to be yourself. For Bug, expressing the truth that he’s a boy brings comfort in his own skin for the first time in memory. A lovely story in every way—the descriptive details, the quietly affirming sensibility—keenly captures the feeling of dysphoria, the certainty of self-knowledge, and the beauty of family and friends who see and accept the truth of Bug’s identity both matter-of-factly and with love. ©2021 Cooperative Children’s Book Center