Refuse by Elliott DeLine
Dean, 22 years old and transgender, is no LGBT poster boy. Unemployed, depressed, mid-transition, friendless, and still living in the upstairs bedroom of his parents’ house in a conservative suburb, he can think of little to do but write his memoir. In the third person, he tells the tale of his would-be love affair with his college roommate, Colin, another trans man with a girlfriend and a successful indie rock band. The plot is interrupted intermittently by Dean’s first person commentary, often criticizing middle-class conformity—but also the queer counterculture from which he feels equally alienated. He is obsessed with Morrissey of The Smiths and wants nothing in life other than the same level of fame. As his far-fetched dreams become a foreseeable reality, he must decide between honesty and belonging, conformity or isolation, community or self.
Refuse is an urgent novel that speaks to the alienation of transgender youth and will ring true to many outsiders, over-thinkers, and underachievers. It tackles the pressing concerns of depression, suicide, unemployment, and discrimination, oscillating between irreverent wit and sincere confessions. A manifesto, a transgender narrative, a coming of age tale, a satire, an homage to a musical legend, and a star-crossed love story, Refuse is a singular work of trangender fiction. “DeLine,” says Out in Print Queer Book Reviews, “is a writer to watch.”