Felix Ever After (Kacen Callender)

Felix Ever After is a novel by Kacen Callender.
Finished on: 25.6.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) transmisia, queermisia

Felix is a student at an art school, hoping to get into a good college to pursue his art further. He therefore attends summer school with his best friend Ezra. He is also Black, trans, queer and desperate to fall in love for the first time, but secretly afraid that he has one marginalized identity too many. And maybe he is not all that sure about his identities anyway. Before he figures anything out, though, Felix arrives in school one morning to find pre-transitions photos of himself and his deadname plastered all over the school gallery. Suspecting his classmate and rival Declan, Felix hatches a plan to make him pay. But that plan leads him somewhere else entirely.

Felix Ever After is wonderful. Simply wonderful. It’s the kind of novel that queer people everywhere should grow up with, really. It made my heart swell in the best of ways.

The book cover showing an illustration of a Black guy in a tank top. His arms are covered in small tattoos, he is wearing a flower crown and underneath the tank top, we can just make out scars from top surgery.

Felix Ever After is, on the surface, a sweet and funny romance. Watching Felix hoping to fall in love, but at the same time not daring to is relatable, reads like a breeze and tugs all the right heartstrings. And it would have been a great book if it had been just that.

But there is so much more to it. Mostly it is not a romance novel, but a coming-of-age one, where Felix gets to figure things out about himself and who he is. The story allows him to have doubts about his identity, without ever falling into a fearful “but what if he isn’t actually trans” gasping. People can change and if that means readjusting their identities, then so be it. It’s also pretty awesome because it’s a book that barely has any non-queer people in it. So Felix’ story isn’t the only queer story, it’s just his story.

In addition to that, there is even space for some very fundamental critique. TERFy talking points are discussed (or torn to pieces, if we’re being honest) as much as the difficulties parents may have when their children transition, but centering the pain this causes the trans kids, and not the things the parents struggle with. Both these aspects made me particularly glad that the book was written by a trans person – they really make Felix’ pain a visceral experience that goes straight to the gut, even for cis old me.

While the focus is on queerness, the book also takes on race and class and how it all intersects. With all the big topics it tackles, I really have to reiterate that it is also an extremely entertaining page-turner that is always emotionally honest and affective. I may have shed a tear or two. In short, I really loved it.

Summarizing: wonderful, fantastic, damn near perfect.

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