Just Happy to Be Here (Hardcover)
In this YA standalone perfect for fans of Tobly McSmith and Meredith Russo, the first out trans girl at an all-girls school must choose between keeping her head down or blazing a trail.
Tara just wants to be treated like any other girl at Ainsley Academy.
That is, judged on her merits—not on her transness. But there’s no road map for being the first trans girl at an all-girls school. And when she tries to join the Sibyls, an old-fashioned Ainsley sisterhood complete with code names and special privileges, she’s thrust into the center of a larger argument about what girlhood means and whether the club should exist at all.
Being the figurehead of a movement isn’t something Tara’s interested in. She’d rather read old speeches and hang out with the Sibyls who are on her side—especially Felicity, a new friend she thinks could turn into something more. Then the club’s sponsor, a famous alumna, attacks her in the media and turns the selection process into a spectacle.
Tara’s always found comfort in the power of other peoples’ words. But when it comes time to fight for herself, will she be able to find her own voice?
Naomi Kanakia has written three young adult novels. She also has some forthcoming books for adults, and her essays, short stories, and poetry have appeared all over the place. She grew up in Washington, DC, and she currently lives in San Francisco with her wife and daughter.
“The story thoughtfully explores the desire for acceptance, the difficulty of living under laws targeting trans youth, and the tension of seeking access to an oppressive system, rather than sacrificing your own well-being to fight it.” — Kirkus Reviews
"A staggering achievement. Naomi Kanakia sweeps aside decades of cliché and sanctimony to weave a compelling, suspenseful, and sweetly romantic coming-of-age tale." — Peyton Thomas, award-winning author of Both Sides Now
“Timely, bold, and engrossing, Just Happy to Be Here balances sharp social commentary, giddy romance, and a truthful coming of age story for all readers. Naomi Kanakia says exactly what so many of us need to hear.” — Camryn Garrett, author of Friday I'm in Love
"Messy, raw, heartfelt, and deeply humane. Just Happy to Be Here is a triumph." — Rob Costello, contributing editor of We Mostly Come Out at Night: 15 Queer Tales of Monsters, Angels and Other Creatures
"Tara is an unforgettable heroine -- sweetly vulnerable, heartbreakingly hopeful, smarter than she thinks, stronger than she knows -- and Kanakia tells her story with a sharp, unsentimental intelligence that's rare and refreshing." — James Frankie Thomas, author of Idlewild
"A perfect book for anyone learning that there is not always a beating heart in government, schools, or awards, but there can be in the friendships of teenage girls resisting social pressure to perform, assimilate, and make concessions to power." — Hal Schrieve, author of How to Get Over the End of the World
"Both funny and heartbreaking, Just Happy to be Here is exactly the story the world needs right now." — Jonathan Lenore Kastin, contributor to Transmogrify: 14 Fantastical Tales of Trans Magic
"Critical in the erudite sense, brave beyond lip service, and devoted to undoing the distortions of those who, even well-meaningly, erase or obscure our abundant reality—the future is with Kanakia, and what she stands for here." — Lio Min, author of Beating Heart Baby
"Kanakia's razor-sharp candor, insight, and nuance make her one of YA's most fascinating and relevant authors. Just Happy to Be Here is an absolute and necessary game-changer." — Dahlia Adler, author of Cool for the Summer
"Real and tangible and full of heart in all its messy contradictions, Just Happy to Be Here and its protagonist Tara are both affirming and challenging all at once. This book is as beautiful and moving as it is overdue." — Elle Grenier
Praise for We Are Totally Normal: "A touching novel about all the confusions and intensities of high school, from sexuality to peer pressure... The novel deftly negotiates the complexities of teenage friendships and relationships with insight and compassion." — Teen Vogue
"We Are Totally Normal downplays its literary sensibility with lighthearted humor and smart, bantering dialog. This book is a great choice for readers interested in LGBTQ+ and QPOC romance and post-Millennial coming-of-age stories." — them.us
"With its fast, dialogue-driven pacing, humor, and finger on the youthful pulse, this book will find an eager audience in queer and questioning teens, especially those of color." — Booklist