ARC review: Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier and Val Wise

I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

A sweet, queer teen romance perfect for fans of Fence and Check, Please!

Annie is a smart, antisocial lesbian starting her senior year of high school who’s under pressure to join the cheerleader squad to make friends and round out her college applications. Her former friend BeeBee is a people-pleaser—a trans girl who must keep her parents happy with her grades and social life to keep their support of her transition. Through the rigors of squad training and amped up social pressures (not to mention micro aggressions and other queer youth problems), the two girls rekindle a friendship they thought they’d lost and discover there may be other, sweeter feelings springing up between them.

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I really enjoyed this graphic novel, which focused on a high school cheerleading team led for the first time by a trans girl. When her former friend reluctantly has to join the team, the two rekindle their friendship and soon after end up realizing they have feelings for each other.

While the tone of the story was definitely lighthearted, it didn’t shy away from some of the bad experiences that trans people and especially trans women have to face from the moment they are out. Even Bebe’s friends and family end up making mistakes, and even Annie, who fiercely protects her, has to confront the fact that she should listen to Bebe’s wishes more. I only wish the book was a little longer so that there could’ve been more space to show the characters learning, especially when it comes to Bebe’s father, who has made some transphobic comments and I felt like those aren’t erased by the explanation that they just want to keep her safe.

I would definitely recommend this to fans of sapphic stories and graphic novels and I think this would also make a good gift for a teen trans person or teens who want to learn more about how to be better friends to their trans classmates.

TWs: transphobia and microaggressions, harassment

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