I’m Back, And What is This?! – Also, A Review of Ciel by Sophie Labelle

Hi everyone! After my huge unplanned hiatus, I am back, and – holy hell, what IS up with WordPress?! I am very happy that there is still a “Classic” block I can use that is more or less what I’m used to, because otherwise these blocks look very overwhelming. Useful, maybe, but overwhelming.

You may have noticed that I slightly changed my url – I was also planning a new banner or something, but frankly, I am very bad at graphic design and I haven’t had the energy or the time to do it. Oops? Just being honest with you all.

The quick summary of my absence is that I finished my Masters degree and my thesis that I wrote on Austin Chant’s Peter Darling (with an online thesis defense!) and right now I am looking for a job, which is… very difficult. I returned here because I missed book blogging, although I can’t promise I’m going to update regularly. But I’ll try my best?!

(Can you imagine I was still signing my last blog post as Alexa? Yeah, that’s not a thing anymore.)

And now, on to the review! Ciel by Sophie Labelle is coming out on September 15, 2020, and I was lucky enough to get a NetGalley copy so I can share my thoughts with you.

CielTitle: Ciel
Author(s): Sophie Labelle
Genre: Middle Grade
Pages: 192
September 15th 2020 by Second Story Press
LGBTQAI+: trans woman author, transgender/nonbinary protagonist, bisexual & trans side characters

Rating: 🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈 | 5

And if I’m lucky, I’ll see a fox. 🦊

Ciel was the first book I read by Sophie Labelle, although I’ve been following her online comics for a long time now, so I was already familiar with some of the characters. Ciel as a character has been an inspiration for me as somebody who is unapologetic about their transness and their appearance. These kids are so much stronger than I could have been in high school – but maybe it would have helped if I had examples like these in the books I read.

Ciel is a great book because it has several (THREE!) transgender main characters, as well as a cis (?) little brother who likes wearing dresses and doing feminine things, so it really portrays a variety of experiences without making any of them be “The Trans Experience”. In school, Sophie, who was out and proud in middle school, would prefer to go stealth and not be known as “the trans girl” in their new high school. Ciel is conflicted about this, and also faces the problem where it is pretty much impossible for nonbinary people to “pass” as their real gender, because people are so deeply stuck in binaries.

Ciel is also a great book because the characters in it all appear as real people, with their own interests and love troubles and whatnot. I mean – WE knew trans people were real people, but it’s always nice to show that to the rest of the world! We have three different trans experiences in this book, as well as many different allies who are doing their best in different ways.

Finally, Ciel is a great book because it shows how far we have to go even as a community. I have sadly experienced in both online and offline LGBT groups that the LGB part very often can be transphobic, and even the binary T can be very exclusionary and hostile towards nonbinary people. Ciel’s experience at the GSA is sadly very close to some of my experiences in cis queer spaces, and their conflict with an older trans girl is very close to some of my experiences in trans groups.

All in all, Ciel (the book!) is both realistic and uplifting, and a good way to maybe introduce cis children to the topic of trans kids.

~ Alex


3 thoughts on “I’m Back, And What is This?! – Also, A Review of Ciel by Sophie Labelle

  1. It’s great to see you back! I know I missed seeing your reviews. I hadn’t heard of Ciel before your review and it sounds so good! I’ve gotta add it to my tbr


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