CW’s: Transphobia, Harassment
Representation 🌷 Latina Trans MC, Fat Lesbian LI
Expected Publication: August 10, 2021
Annie is a smart, antisocial lesbian starting her senior year of high school who’s under pressure to join the cheerleader squad to make friends and round out her college applications. Her former friend BeeBee is a people-pleaser—a trans girl who must keep her parents happy with her grades and social life to keep their support of her transition. Through the rigors of squad training and amped up social pressures (not to mention micro aggressions and other queer youth problems), the two girls rekindle a friendship they thought they’d lost and discover there may be other, sweeter feelings springing up between them.
Thank you to Netgalley and Oni Press for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review! All images are taken from the Arc.
This was a book about cheerleading and standing up for yourself! Cheer Up is about BeeBee, a trans cheerleader who is reconnecting with her childhood friend Annie, when the latter is pushed by her mom to join the cheerleading squad. I loved the former best friends to lovers romance; it was such a slowburn and very tender ❤ Annie is rather anti-social and grumpy, the type of person to get into trouble and not get along with others as well. However, she also knows how to stand up for herself and is fiercely protective of those she cares about. BeeBee on the other side is the sunshine one in the duo, always eager to get along with everyone. Both girls personalities really complimented each other and they helped each other grow. BeeBee often feels like she cannot assert her boundaries or stand up for herself and has to try so hard to please other people, in order to not get stereotyped as the ‘angry, mean trans girl’ which broke my heart to see. Annie was really good at boosting her confidence and supporting her journey to take care of her own feelings instead of only taking care of what others were feeling.
Furthermore, the graphic novel touched upon the daily transphobic microaggressions BeeBee faces and how even the people you love can end up hurting you. BeeBee’s parents mean well, but their offhand comments and intense protectiveness can make their daughter feel trapped and misunderstood. The cheerleading squad supported BeeBee when she came out as trans, but don’t understand that their behavior makes BeeBee feel like she’s just a prop to make themselves feel better for being inclusive and ‘good allies’. They only slowly beginning to realize that they tokenized their friend and try to truly include her in the group. I was proud that BeeBee managed to stand up for herself in the end, especially against people that try to stereotype and fetishize her. I felt like the graphic novel would have benefitted from more volumes or more pages though, as it felt rushed. There were so many subplots and important discussions, but I feel like we didn’t have time to properly explore them. Especially with regards to BeeBee’s friends, it wasn’t enough space to explore their complicated dynamic, and that also made the reconciliation feel a bit quick and superficial. Cheer Up could have made a really great series and explored all of these topics and relationships more in-depth!
IN CONCLUSION. ➽ Cheer Up was a great graphic novel about cheerleading, old best friends reconnecting & falling in love and a trans girl learning to stand up for herself. There were many wonderful themes in the story and I liked that it discussed he stereotypes and microaggressions that BeeBee faced, while also showing that in the end there were people to support her. I wished we had more volumes of this graphic novel or that it had been longer though, as the plots felt a bit rushed.
Are you going to read Cheer Up? What is your favorite graphic novel with LGBTQ rep? ✨