Book Reviews

Review: Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix by Anna-Marie McLemore

Okay I love everything Anna-Marie McLemore has ever written. I just want to start this book review out like that so you know exactly where I am coming from. But Self-Made Boys is a fabulous addition to my favorites. It takes probably one of my least favorite novels of all time and makes me…..LOVE it! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


New York City, 1922. Nicolás Caraveo, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Minnesota, has no interest in the city’s glamor. Going to New York is all about establishing himself as a young professional, which could set up his future—and his life as a man—and benefit his family.

Nick rents a small house in West Egg from his 18-year-old cousin, Daisy Fabrega, who lives in fashionable East Egg near her wealthy fiancé, Tom—and Nick is shocked to find that his cousin now goes by Daisy Fay, has erased all signs of her Latina heritage, and now passes seamlessly as white.

Nick’s neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious young man named Jay Gatsby, whose castle-like mansion is the stage for parties so extravagant that they both dazzle and terrify Nick. At one of these parties, Nick learns that the spectacle is all for the benefit of impressing a girl from Jay’s past—Daisy. And he learns something else: Jay is also transgender.

As Nick is pulled deeper into the glittery culture of decadence, he spends more time with Jay, aiming to help his new friend reconnect with his lost love. But Nick’s feelings grow more complicated when he finds himself falling hard for Jay’s openness, idealism, and unfounded faith in the American Dream.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

I hated reading The Great Gatsby in high school. There was just something that I did not get. Maybe it was the very obvious distance between me and this ‘high society’ or even the desire to get into ‘high society’. But at the time I had not experience a great love that would have left me so full of yearning. But Self-Made Boys takes everything I didn’t get about the original and clicks into place. The fierceness of the ‘American Dream’, about wanting to become someone we have made, and about that flickering desire for something we can’t have.

From the beginning, I loved the ways in which Self-Made Boys takes white passing and privilege and examines the ways it affects ourselves. How there’s this almost distinct sense of before and after, of performance, and of transformation. How this white washing of her history is used by Daisy to try to embrace a lifestyle that seems unmade not only for her, but also for her marginalized identity. Self-Made Boys is all about (re)invention. In some ways it requires a process of loss, of grief and regret, but also of forgetting.


(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. For more information you can look at the Policy page. If you’re uncomfortable with that, know you can look up the book on any of the sites below to avoid the link)

From an overall perspective, I fell in love with Self-Made Boys, the ways in which we have to hide in plain sight for the future, for the dream. Or the secret languages not only of gender, but also high society. How being dumped into it makes us almost feel alien. McLemore has taken so many different lenses and woven them together to create a compelling story with thematic significance. About people who will love us versus those who only give us what we want. Of a world which wants to make us into what they want. And the supreme power of queer spaces of joy, of spaces where we can truly be. Find Self-Made Boys on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


Who is an author you have read, or want to read, all their books?

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