Proud Of Me by Sarah Hagger-Holt
Published By: Usborne
Released: 4th February 2021
CAWPILE Rating: 9.00 / 5 ★
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Becky and Josh are almost-twins, with two mums and the same anonymous donor dad.
Josh can’t wait until he’s eighteen, the legal age when he can finally contact his father, and he’ll do anything to find out more - even if it involves lying.
Becky can’t stop thinking about her new friend, Carli. Could her feelings for Carli be a sign of something more?
Becky and Josh both want their parents to be proud of them…but right now, they’re struggling to even accept themselves.
Sarah Hagger-Holt is an author that has been on my radar ever since I read her debut Nothing Ever Happens Here last year. I adored that book and I’ve been impatiently waiting for Sarah’s next book ever since. So, you can imagine my excitement when I found out about her second release Proud Of Me. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this incredible sounding read, and I was certainly not disappointed.
Proud Of Me follows almost twins Becky and Josh, who have two mums but the same anonymous donor dad. Josh wants to find out more about his donor dad, and despite not legally being able to until he’s eighteen, he will do anything to find out more even if that means lying to those closest to him. Becky, meanwhile, makes friends with the new girl at school, Carli, and soon realises she can’t stop thinking about her. Could these feelings be a sign of feeling something more than friendship? Both Becky and Josh want to make their parents proud, but at the moment they are struggling to accept themselves for who they are.
Well, this was such a beautiful, poignant read that had me feeling all sorts of emotions. The book itself delves into many issues that are faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and some were ones that I’d never seen written in middle grade or young adult fiction before. One is that of a donor parent. I didn’t know much about the world of donor-conceived children before reading Proud Of Me, but after reading this my mind was opened to how hard it can be for the children. Becky and Josh have two mums and what I loved was that we were shown how tough it can be for both the children and parents and that stigma is still out there and not everyone is as accepting as they could be.
Plot-wise, we see the views of both Becky and Josh as they come to terms with who they are and this is very much character-driven as we delve into the issues they are both facing. Becky is coming to terms with her feelings for friend Carli, and wondering if these feelings are more than friendship, and what she should do about them. Josh on the other hand wants to start finding out who is donor dad is and how he can go about that despite being only thirteen. Both plots are interwoven as we follow the siblings on these journeys that despite being different, are the subject of wanting to discover who they are as well as make their parents proud. These issues are dealt with sensitively and will help younger readers who may be going through the same thing in their lives. Sarah has a way of bringing issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, coming out, family issues and oppression to the forefront in a way that’s both compassionate and engaging for the reader.
Becky and Josh despite being almost twins are very different from each other in several ways. Josh is more determined and outspoken and this is shown in the way that he wants to discover who his dad is. He, in a way, feels disjointed from his family, and being the only male in the house could have contributed to this lost feeling. His character, I feel was taken on the bigger journey and come to the end of the story he’s coming to accept and love himself and his family for who they are. Becky goes on a completely different journey to Josh and is struggling to figure out her sexuality and her feelings for her friend. Her journey is a journey of self-discovery and how she deals with that, and if she wants to tell those closest to her. Both Becky and Josh are characters that some young readers will see themselves in, and this, in turn, may help them realise that they aren’t alone in how they are feeling.
Proud Of Me was an incredible, heartfelt read that I couldn’t put down. This book perfectly ties together the themes of LGBTQ+, family, identity and finding your place in the world. Sarah Hagger-Holt has written another piece of stunning middle grade and I, for one, cannot wait to read what she writes next.