Nations, Erin. Gumballs. Top Shelf Productions, 2018. 160p. ISBN: 9781603094313. $19.99. HS OT ****
Gumballs is collection of short comics about topics that range from Nations’ gender transition to vignettes of everyday life, personal ads from an array of male personalities and the misadventures of Tobias a teenage social misfit. The most engaging stories are those about Nations’ transition. He expresses his struggles without making the reader feel like they are getting a needed lesson. But these stories also contain reminders about the dangers and prejudices transgender people face even in seemingly progressive cities like Portland, OR. Nations’ experiences with sexual harassment before he transitioned are also interesting since he has experienced female sexual harassment first-hand. The stories about growing up as a female triplet are entertaining and highlight the hijinks kids get up too. Some of the one-page personal ads walk a fine line between mean-spirited and funny. Nations’ explanation and drawings about “packing” might make this title too sophisticated for some high school shelfs though he never talks about sex in any detail. This is an accessible read for older teens and acceptable for public library teen collections.
Carla Avitabile, San Mateo Public Library