Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Jude Saves the World

Riley, Ronnie. Jude Saves the World
April 18, 2023 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Jude is nonbinary, and has struggled with how people percieve them. While people at school use the name "Jude", no one really understands Jude's identification and sometimes make fun of them. Dalls doesn't; he has recently come out to Jude as gay, and the two support each other. When a girl in class, Stevie, fights with her friend Tessa because Stevie has a crush on another girl, Jude asks Stevie to join them and Dallas for lunch so that Stevie doesn't have to be alone. The three quickly become fast friends, and they each have reasons to need support. Dallas' parents fight often, and Dallas tries to keep his younger sisters from hearing them. Jude's grandparents, with whom they have to have dinner every Monday, constantly deadname them and use the wrong pronouns and gender identification because Jude's mother doesn't want to tell them about Jude's nonbinary status. Stevie is struggling with losing Tessa, her friend group, and playing soccer, since Tessa was on her team. Jude comes to the realization that the people in their community need a safe space for marginalize people of all kinds. After being turned down by the school principal, Jude asks a librarian if they could form a group, and the Rosedeen Safe Space starts up. Since Jude also struggles with ADHD and is planning things for the RSS instead of paying attention in class, their mother is a bit upset. When Tessa decides to be friends with Stevie again, Stevie drops Dallas and Jude. Will the trio be able to come back together again, and will the RSS work out?
Strengths: The author indicates in their note that they gave Jude many of their own identities: queer, bisexual, nonbinary, trans, and neurodivergent so that young readers who share those identities have a chance to see themselves identified in literature. Jude's problems with his grandparents and mother over their identity are very common, and it was nice to see that they wanted to create a safe space for other people. The inclusion of Dallas' experiences with his parents fighting was something that is not addressed enough in middle grade fiction. There is a brief mention of Jude's weight as well, and how it complicates their gender identification. 
Weaknesses: The grandfather's change of heart happened very quickly and didn't seem all that realistic, although it did add a hopeful note to the story. There are also a lot of discussions about language and terminology in the text that are also available in the end notes. Hopefully, someday soon we won't need this information in the text itself because people will understand it. 
What I really think: This is a good choice for readers who liked Sass' Ellen Outside the Lines, Luckoff's All Kinds of Fruit, Bunker's Zenobia July or Donoghue's The Lotterys. 
Ms. Yingling

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