Beautiful, heart-wrenching and raw! A Million Quiet Revolutions is a powerful, yet vulnerable, YA story written in verse about two trans boys coming out together, falling in love and finding their queerness through stories of queer history.
This magical and important story is about Oliver and Aaron, who grew up together in a small town where they were the only queer kids. Not only were they best friends, they also discovered that they were trans and went through all trans milestones (like getting their first binders, deciding on names and coming out) together. But just as they were starting to fall in love, Aaron moved away with his family because of a trauma that happened to his brother. The two boys therefore stay in touch mostly by writing letters and by discovering queer history in parallel to their own journey of self-discovery.
It’s not a linear story but more of a stream of thoughts, doubts and feelings told from both main characters perspectives, as well as sent and unsent texts and letters to each other. The verse format was perfect for this story. I loved the intimacy and beauty it created, and how raw and vulnerable it made it. It was so relatable in the way Oliver and Aaron doubted their decisions, their chosen names, their feelings for each other and their longing for being seen and recognized for who they were. The two main characters were so fleshed out and complex, and so much more than just trans boys, even though Robin Gow made a wonderful job showing how their queerness affected their whole lives and beings.
I also found it so inspiring how Oliver wanted to find queer people throughout history and give them their voice and place in history back by telling their untold, forgotten and silenced stories. This book is so important from many aspects, and it has such amazing representation. I truly enjoyed the discussions about family relationships, culture and religion, and Aaron’s insecurity about coming out because of it. This book does such a wonderful job describing how difficult it can be to correct people about your gender and name, even though it means giving up a big part of yourself, but sometimes it’s just the safest option.
I only have two minor criticisms. The first one is that the POVs of Oliver and Aaron were a bit too similar, which made it really hard to separate them and made some parts of the story a bit confusing. I also never really felt the chemistry between them, and I sometimes had problems with the selfish way Aaron acted towards Oliver. But since I loved both characters so much, it wasn’t a big deal for the story itself. I just wished that Aaron would have been a bit more understanding and supportive of Oliver and realizing that he went through a lot of struggles as well.
The other minor criticism is that the characters love for the queer history was a bit too obsessive at times. I really appreciated the focus on queer history and found it both inspiring and enlightening, but the reenactment parts just felt kind of odd to me. It was also a bit odd how they named themselves after two possible trans Revolutionary War soldiers. I certainly can understand the feeling of wanting to connect to and honor trans people of the past to make sure that they are not erased from history, but naming yourself after them and reenacting their war time experience just felt a bit over the top for me.
But all in all, this was an absolutely magical, powerful, heart-wrenching and emotional book that I loved with all my heart! It was so beautiful how Oliver and Aaron found solace and validity through the connection between them and to queer history. And the writing style, with the poems and letters, was brilliant and absolutely perfect for the story. Please do yourself a favor and read this book!
4.5 stars rounding up to 5
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