Book cover: Lily and Dunkinby Donna Gephart
Delacorte Press, 2016.
340 pgs
Grades 5-9

Tim wakes up every morning knowing something that others can’t tell just by looking at him: Tim is really Lily Jo.

And as a middle schooler, she is desperate to receive the hormone blockers that will stop her body from permanently becoming Tim’s body.

Norbert has just moved to Florida with his mother, to live with his grandmother. Norbert hates the Florida heat, but not as much as he hates his own name.

And Lily isn’t the only one with a secret; Norbert is dealing with bipolar disorder and struggling with the responsibility of being in charge of his own medicine.

When Norbert first sees Lily from a distance, he sees a beautiful girl in a dress. When Norbert sees Lily again, she looks more like a Tim.

Norbert is confused, but also desperate to make friends, and convinces himself this must be someone else.

When school begins and Norbert (now nicknamed Dunkin) realizes that Tim/Lily is not part of the popular crowd, his desire to fit in overtakes his desire to be a good friend.

Dunkin turns his efforts to joining the basketball team, whose members spend their free time bullying Lily.

Told from the alternating views of two courageous kids trying to find their way, Lily and Dunkin is an inspiring story about the power of being yourself and of standing up for what you need to be happy.

The book tackles so much of the middle school experience, from bullying, to trying to fit in, to the challenges of dealing with hard truths and sharing them with others.

There are several pages of resources at the end on mental illness, transgender issues, and forest conservation/tree planting (at one point in the story, Lily is trying to save a tree from being cut down because it holds memories of her time with her grandfather).

The book also includes some thoughtful discussion questions.