A Great Gatsby retelling, but make it as queer and not white as possible? Heck yeah sign me up! Both Nick and Jay are transgender, and Nick is Latino. Here for it already!
Title: Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Genres: Historical Fiction, LGBTQ+, Retelling
Release Date: September 6, 2022
If you’re planning to read this story, I’m going to assume you were forced to read The Great Gatsby in school as so many of us were. At the time, high school me did enjoy The Great Gatsby (compared to everything else we had to read), but looking back and thinking on it as an adult, I didn’t really like The Great Gatsby all that much after all. It’s a good thing Anna-Marie McLemore remixed it into something more interesting! (Note, you can read this if you’ve never read the original, but I feel like the “retelling” aspect won’t have as much of an impact.)
Nicolás Caraveo, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Minnesota who moves to New York City with the help of his cousin Daisy Fabrega – who goes by Daisy Fay and passes as white, erasing herself as Latina. Nick is obviously a brown boy (his words) and Daisy introduces him as her “friend” rather than cousin. Same as in the original, Nick moves into a small cottage next to the infamous Jay Gatsby who throws lavish parties and is somewhat of a mystery. As Nick gets to know his neighbor Jay, he soon learns Jay is a ‘self-made boy’ just like him and also transgender.
I really enjoyed Anna-Marie’s take on this classic story and making it more diverse and very queer. Nick and Daisy are Latinx, but Daisy passes as white, Jordan Baker, the famous golfer, also passes for white but isn’t. Almost everyone of relevance is queer (besides Tom Buchanan, but is he really relevant?). And yet the historical accuracy was there as well which I appreciated – this did really give me Great Gatsby feelings so the author did a great job of sticking to the story we know but changing certain elements of it.
I liked Nick a lot – he’s fighting for a place in a world that doesn’t respect him because of his skin color and he’s scared they’ll find out he’s also a ‘self-mad boy’ – the word transgender is not used in this book as it was not used in the 1920’s, but the meaning is there and mentioned often. And yet Nick has an air of innocence about him as well, needing even the most basic things of New York society explained to him.
I will say this story does have a happily ever after unlike the original story – so don’t worry, nothing bad happens to Nick, Jay, or Daisy!
Self-Made Boys is narrated by Avi Roque for Nick’s parts and Kyla Garcia for Daisy’s voice reading letters. I’ve listened to Avi Roque previously narrate Cemetery Boys and really enjoyed their voice, so I’m glad the publisher had a Latine, Trans, Queer person narrator for a Latino, Trans, Queer character! Avi has a great voice and it’s always a joy to listen to them read a story.
Thank you to Netgalley for approving me for an audio arc of this book!
I’m giving this 3.5 stars and rounding up to 4 on Goodreads. Reading this, I realized, I don’t much like the story of The Great Gatsby. This is no fault of the author and completely on me – which is why I’m still giving this a 4 on Goodreads as I feel its a good story and many people will enjoy it a lot!
If you’re looking for a historical fiction story of trans boys making their way in a world that isn’t accepting of queer people, but still has a HEA – this is the story for you.