As a child, Joey Kincaid led the neighborhood kids in magical imagination games as their princess, with Prince Eric right by his side. Everyone accepted Joey as THE PRINCESS OF BAKER STREET back then—but when Joey continues wearing dresses and nail polish to middle school, his childhood friends become his worst bullies. Even valiant Prince Eric, who saved his princess from many monsters, isn’t sure how to save Joey from being a girl trapped in a boy’s body. Author Mia Kerick explores Joey’s discovery of her true gender identity through Eric’s eyes in this impactful coming-of-age novel.
Kerick masterfully illustrates her characters’ journeys by showing the five kids of Baker Street at three key points in their lives—as carefree children in a series of flashbacks, as self-absorbed and struggling preteens in Part 1, and as courageous and thoughtful teenagers in Part 2. Eric Sinclair is a particularly compelling narrator: he misses Joey’s friendship and wants to stand up to Joey’s bullies, but he’s paralyzed by the fear of drawing attention. If he gets noticed by the school administrators, they might find out he’s been living alone ever since his mother abandoned him. Eric’s situation becomes further complicated when he begins studying with Joey and develops feelings for her.
In Part 1, Eric’s battle between self-preservation and his conscience comes to a head on the same day Joey gives up hope of ever being able to live as a girl…or to live at all. Part 1 leaves both Eric and Joey at rock bottom, but Part 2 jumps eight months ahead to a new school year, and everything is (slowly) getting better. While it’s delightful to see Joey find happiness and acceptance, Eric’s new outlook feels unearned. Kerick sums up the months it took Eric to forgive his mother’s abandonment, learn to stand up for his friends, and begin to understand his feelings for Joey in a few quick sentences. Readers, especially teenage ones, would benefit from the opportunity to see his thought process as he grows, rather than being presented with a “before” and “after” Eric.
Ultimately, Part 2 serves as a multi-chapter epilogue that wraps up the story on a hopeful note. Many LGBTQ+ YA novels of the past were driven by the struggle to come out or find acceptance and often had bittersweet or tragic endings. By focusing on the love and support surrounding Joey after her transition, Kerick shows young readers that they are not alone on their journeys—and they deserve happy endings.
Author Mia Kerick deftly creates a realistic, loveable, and memorable cast of characters in THE PRINCESS OF BAKER STREET, a sweet and straightforward LGBTQ+ YA novel, filled with beautiful moments of hope, love, and acceptance as a transgender teen struggles to survive middle school.
~Cameron Gillespie for IndieReader