John Boyne’s first book for children in three years will be My Brother’s Name is Jessica, about a transgender teen written from the perspective of her brother.
My Brother’s Name is Jessica follows protagonist Sam’s journey towards acceptance of his sister Jessica, a transgender teenager who transitions from male to female, in a beautiful piece of modern storytelling, full of John’s trademark warm humour and highly-charged emotion. At its heart this is a story about the power and importance of simple kindness and empathy and a family’s fight for acceptance.
My Brother’s Name is Jessica marks an exciting new direction for Boyne whose bestselling novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has sold over 1.6 million copies in the UK. More recently Boyne has enjoyed commercial success with his adult title The Heart’s Invisible Furies.
John Boyne says: ‘in all my books for younger readers I’ve written about children who are isolated in some way, whether through the effects of war, grief or abandonment. As my books for adults have grown more personal in nature, so has my writing for young people, and I became interested in exploring how a child would deal with complicated issues of gender and sexuality, not when it’s a struggle that he’s facing, but when the struggle belongs to someone he loves. I hope MY BROTHER’S NAME IS JESSICA will enlighten young readers on the bravery of transgender youth and make them understand that this is just another facet of human nature that can be celebrated.’
Naomi Colthurst, Commissioning Editor for Penguin Random House Children’s , says: ‘John is one of the world’s most beloved writers, and we are enormously proud to be publishing his incredibly exciting new book. JESSICA is not only a wonderful story packed full of John’s signature wit, warmth and emotion, it is also a hugely timely and urgent call to arms for better empathy and understanding about the complexity of gender identity, which is so important, yet still so misunderstood.’
My Brother’s Name is Jessica will be published in hardback 18th April 2019.