Review: Being Roy by Julie Aitcheson

The greatest trial Roy Watkins faces isn’t deciding whether she’s gay or straight, male or female, West Virginia country mouse or prep school artistic prodigy. It isn’t even leaving behind her childhood sweetheart Oscar to attend uppity Winchester Academy in the hunt country of Virginia, or acclimating to a circle of friends that now includes privileged Imogen, her sharp but self-conscious sidekick Bugsy, and the tortured Hadley. No, the hardest thing for Roy to face is the world’s expectations about who and what she should be.

As Roy’s journey of self-discovery forces her to cross one hurdle after another, her identity closes in fast. Sooner than she could have ever predicted, she’ll have to decide what that means for her, the people she’s coming to care about, and the life that lies ahead.

**This review has been revised at the author’s request. Due to my Aussie misunderstanding of American Education system, in which some terms have different meanings than my Australian equivalent, I incorrectly stated that Roy was in College in my original review. Roy’s move was to an all girls boarding high school. My apologies to the author for this misunderstanding**

Roy’s journey through transitioning to an all girls boarding High School is pretty intense. Usually a loner, except when it comes to Oscar, Roy suddenly has friends she’s not certain she wants. All Roy wants to do is study and make art, but the girls who have claimed her as a friend will not allow her to slink into the background.

I really enjoyed this story. I found Roy’s cynicism very familiar. Roy’s reality is harsh, and she’s had to learn to make do with an absentee parent who loves her and just wants to make sure Roy succeeds.

Oscar is off to Florida University on a sports scholarship which creates a strain to their relationship over the first year. Things happen, and sometimes being in a different environment changes the view of how people look at the world.

The background and general worldbuilding made this a really layered read. I enjoyed Roy’s point of view. I found it pretty fairly balanced. Roy is self confident within her art, but her body creates problems, and to counteract the discomfort of it growing in a way she doesn’t want, she molds her relationships to ensure she isn’t looked at in a typically gendered way.

I loved the interactions and the story line. I thought the relationship building was great. Where I wanted more was the hint of understanding, when it came to Roy’s recognition of Jacob. I really wanted that to be explored more.

All the characters were colourful, and they fit with Roy. Roy needed pushing outside her comfort zone, and made to expand her worldview. Mama Dot certainly made her point when she called Roy a snob in her own way, even if she does live in a trailer park and doesn’t conform to societal norms. Allowing that truth to settle, and to evaluate how to move around that was a great challenge for Roy. This allowed some serious growth, and although Roy had many hurdles, and some bruising on her heart by the end of this first year, it was one of amazing opportunity to start to understand who Roy really is.

I’d recommend this to everyone. It was sweet and enjoyable. A great coming of age story.

A review copy was provided for an honest opinion

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