Title: Stay Gold
Author: Tobly McSmith
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
I have everything I wanted, but nothing that I want.
Synopsis: Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom.
Georgia is beginning to think there’s more to life than cheerleading. She plans on keeping a low profile until graduation…which is why she promised herself that dating was officially a no-go this year.
Then, on the very first day of school, the new guy and the cheerleader lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? How is Georgia supposed to keep her promise when sparks start flying with a boy like Pony?
Funny and poignant, clear-eyed and hopeful, Stay Gold is a story about finding love—and finding yourself
Stay gold, Pony. The world needs you. Stay gold when it’s hard. When it’s lonely. When it’s scary. Especially when it’s scary.
Review: Before I get into the review of this book, I want to address some of the controversy that came out about it. As you can probably tell from the title, and the main character being named “Pony,” there is a bit of an Outsiders reference from this book. The author of The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton – decided to rant on twitter about Stay Gold, and called it a “rip off” despite not knowing anything about it other than it’s title and the name of the main character. So, the question is, is it a rip off? Honestly, it’s not. The plot, the story, the characters, the setting, all do not resemble The Outsiders in any way. The author is an Outsiders fan, and that’s about the end of that.
Moving on! Let’s talk about Stay Gold! I want to start by saying that I really enjoyed this book. I read it pretty much in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. The characters were all incredibly dynamic, and the POV switching was wonderfully done. I was hooked from the minute I read the synopsis.
One thing that I really loved about this book is that one of the POV’s is Pony. I’ve read many stories/news articles/op-eds/etc. ABOUT trans people, but this was the first time I’d seen a (mostly) positive story that came from the point of view of a trans person. While I will never know or feel the struggle that trans people face, this book helped to bring it into perspective.
This book also didn’t gloss over the hard parts – so many YA contemporary books try to minimize or trivialize the struggle that high schoolers go through, and this book definitely didn’t do that. You see Pony’s struggle in all of its terrible details.
One last thing that I’m going to gush over in this book – the ending! Even though the book ends on a (kindof) happy note, the author didn’t use that as an opportunity to tie it up in a nice bow and say “all their troubles are over!” It was definitely a victory moment for Pony, but you still know that he is going to face a lot after the book ends, he just has a better base to handle it.
Overall, as you can probably tell, I really loved this book. I thought that while it was a story that I’ve almost read before (boy meets girl, they fall in love, etc.), it was told from a new perspective that made it so fresh and new!
Have you read Stay Gold? What did you think?