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Description from Amarillo ISD: 

Pen is a badass gamer girl stuck in a small town outside Toronto. She's basically "one of the guys" with her BFF, Colby, and a small crew, who smoke weed, drink, play video games and go to the mall where Pen scores girls for Colby--even though she dreams of scoring some of them for herself. Colby feels entitled since he "protects" Pen from name-callers and obnoxious homophobes, and then one night--drunk and high--he makes a move on Pen that's a total game changer. It's just not right. REALLY not right. Pen goes home feeling disgusted and confused; cuts off the thick braid of black hair she's hated her whole life; and for the first time, when Pen looks in the mirror, she sees the right person. She's a girl, but she looks like a guy. That's the girl she's supposed to be. 'Punk Druggy," her mom calls her, trying to get her in dresses which she trades for the mens' clothes in her brother's closet--and when the family comes to visit, it's pure antagonism, especially for Johnny, the older brother who loves and accepts Pen unconditionally. It's Johnny more than anyone who gets how hard is to be Pen. In the midst of a rash of outside changes, there's some romance: Pen gets together with her crush, Blake--and Blake gets Pen a job at the video game store in the mall. Now BFF/rapey Colby and Pen are enemies (Yup, he likes Blake, too!) and Colby's not going to take Pen's "disloyalty" lying down. It all escalates, turning into a big scene near their school, when Pen and Colby come to blows in an unforgettable fight scene. Teens haven't seen this story because it hasn't been told in mainstream teen publishing. Butch girls will relate to everything about Pen. For others, it's a totally absorbing, at times voyeuristic look at what it's like to be butch and bullied and to learn how to man up. Excerpt:'So, you're like, a girl" Avery asks. "Like a gay girl''Uh..." I say, staring back at her, pulling the straw in and out of my cup, making it squeak against the plastic lid. Colby takes a drag, and exhales liquid smoke in swirls.'I just didn't want to assume..." Avery says, frowning.' Assume I'm a girl I am, so that's cool," I say.' Do your parents know''That I'm a girl' Colby snorts a laugh.'That you're gay," Avery says.'I don't really know. I guess it's obvious," I say, but I don't think of myself as being gay, because that word sounds like it belongs to some guy. And lesbian sounds like it's some forty-year-old woman's. And queer feels like it can mean anything, but like, am I queer because I like girls, or because I look the way I do Maybe I don't know enough words.

Girl Mans Up

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