Beast is one of those books that stays with you long after you finished reading. Beast is a take on The Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, but set in high school with "Beast" as a hairy, almost 7 foot high school who falls for "Beast", a transgender female. This spin gives a unique take a timeless fairytale that teaches beauty is only skin deep, and love transcends labels, especially when it comes to a boy falling for a girl, who was born a male, but every part of her (other than her anatomy) is female. Beast will tug at your heart, and perhaps make you shed a tear because Beast is one book that shows the beauty of love and how acceptance on all levels is pure and innocent.
Dylan is known as Beast at his high school because he's large, tall and very hairy. His best friend, JP is the golden boy of the school who uses Dylan to beat up students who JP gives loans who are less than forthcoming with paying him back. JP is rich and handsome, but has an alcoholic mother. Dylan is lower-middle class and has a loving mother, but his father died of cancer. Dylan uses his long hair and hat to hide from the world. But the day the his school bans hats, Dylan gets upset. The girl he likes makes fun of him to her friends, and JP also says rude things that angers Dylan, he goes up on the roof of his house with a football and by accident falls off and breaks his leg. His mother thinks he did it on purpose. She makes him go to therapy at the hospital where he meets Jamie, a budding photographer. Dylan is smitten with Jamie right away. These two form a friendship that goes past that. Dylan ends up kissing Jamie, not knowing she is transgender.
Dylan loves being with Jamie because she makes his world much brighter. But the issue is that Jamie was born male, and even though she looks and acts like a girl, she still has a penis, which again makes Dylan uncomfortable. Dylan is afraid of the ridicule at his school if the students there find out he like Jamie. JP finds out and does something that Dylan can't forgive him for. Dylan doesn't know how to handle Jamie who makes him feel as if everything is right in the world, and far from being a beast everyone thinks he is.
Beast is an uplifting young adult because there are many levels here and complex situations not only with Dylan and Jamie, but Dylan's mother and JP. Everyone wants Dylan to play football, which Dylan can't stand. Dylan is a very smart individual who dreams of going to England to get a scholarship and perhaps find a cure for cancer. He soaks Jamie's goodness and optimism like a sponge, but gets greedy, which turns Jamie off. Jamie wants to share her life with Dylan as an equal partner, and be out in the open as any couple would be. JP comes as a surprise because he's not this spoiled rich kid as Dylan see him as. JP is actually more accepting with Jamie than Dylan. Also Dylan's mom is a treasure. She is what every parent should be in a young adult novel.
Beast spotlights so many issues teens have regarding looks, social status at school, family drama, and the lengths someone will go in order to belong. Dylan dreams of belonging, but feels he's an outcast. Jamie comes along and accepts him as is. The joy in reading is the journey Dylan and Jamie take together in order to acquire their HEA.
Beast gave me all the feels, especially with Dylan, who has a great first person POV. This is one book I would recommend any teen or adult read. Major kudos to Brie Spangler who a book that has a positive message and will make you sigh in happiness at the end.