A review by betweentheshelves
Self-Made Boys by Anna-Marie McLemore

emotional hopeful medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


It's New York City in 1922 and Nicolás Caraveo, a trans boy, is making his way there to earn money for his family back in Minnesota. It's also a chance for him to completely re-invent his life as a man. At the encouragement of his cousin Daisy, he takes the leap of faith and rents a house in West Egg.

Nick's neighbor happens to be a mysterious man named Jay Gatsby, known for the elaborate parties he throws. After going to one of Gatsby's parties, Nick learns that they're just to win back Daisy. Nick also learns something else: Jay is also transgender. The two form a friendship, a friendship that eventually evolves into something more for Nick. But will Jay ever reciprocate?

Thanks to NetGalley and Feiwel and Friends for an advanced copy of Self-Made Boys to review! I love Anna-Marie McLemore as a writer, and I was excited to see what they did with the Gatsby story. So happy to say that I wasn't disappointed!

Honestly, I could take it or leave it about The Great Gatsby; read it for school, and it's fine. Not my favorite classic. But let me tell you, McLemore absolutely nails the feel of that book in this one. I read in another review that this isn't so much a Great Gatsby retelling as much as fanfiction. I'd say that's accurate. McLemore took liberties with the story, and I actually appreciated the changes that were made.

At the end of the book, McLemore does explain that they tried to be as historically accurate as possible while also allowing Nick and Jay to be themselves. Their evolving relationship was probably my favorite thing about the book. That and Nick's oblivious nature. There was so much going on under his nose that he didn't even realize. When he finally realizes it, it was great.

Daisy gets a redemption arc in this, too! the explanation for everything at end was just great. They're all supporting each other in a society that wouldn't accept them. And they all deserve their happy endings. One hundred percent.

All in all, if you're excited about diverse re-tellings of classics, definitely pick this one up in September!

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