REVIEW: Self-Made Boys by Anna-Marie McLemore


Self-Made Boys (Remixed Classics, #5)
by Anna-Marie McLemore
Released on September 6th, 2022
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Young Adult Fiction—Historical, Romance, Retellings > The Great Gatsby

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Stonewall Honor recipient and two-time National Book Award Longlist selectee Anna-Marie McLemore weaves an intoxicating tale of glamor and heartbreak in Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix, part of the Remixed Classics series.

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.

Trigger/Content Warning(s): Transphobia, Misogyny, Racism, Violence, Homophobia, Infidelity, Car Accident, Mention of War


Self-Made Boys was an eye-opening twist on The Great Gatsby classic. With heart-tugging scenes and queer characters existing as themselves, this book felt like receiving a warm hug.

McLemore created an interesting rendition of The Great Gatsby. Having the characters as teenagers created room for many changes to the initial story, and they were executed wonderfully.

The plot of this story–while holding some semblance to the original–did face some major alterations. We find Nicolás on a mission to support his family, Daisy being a bit sneaky in her providing of money for her own family, Tom even more infuriating than he was before, and Gatsby with a different outlook and goal. This all shifted the story to the overall ending, which took me a bit by surprise when it came to showing its head. I thoroughly enjoyed the attention to detail McLemore created and the world-building of the historically shifted New York City.

The characters in this book really captured my heart. McLemore made it possible to see and feel each and every emotion, feeling, thought, sense, etc. that Nicolás experienced. And in the side characters, we found so much more character development than given in the first story. Daisy and Jordan’s characters–while moved to fit into a society that does not want them as who they are–made decisions that no human being should have to make, and their development after the fact showed in this. And for Gatsby’s character, I found myself aligning with Nicolás in parts in the disbelief of certain facts that later showed themselves.

While I did enjoy the majority of this book, there were a few things that I, unfortunately, did not. For one, I struggled with the pacing. The first half of the book kept at a medium pace, but in the last half, it shifted between fast and slow. It made it a bit hard to read at times. Along with this, I do feel like there could have been more development within the romantic relationships we were given. Specifically for Daisy and Jordan, I do feel like there was not enough build-up to it to make it past satisfactory. As for Nicolás and Jay’s relationship, it felt like it was just dragged out a bit too much for this book. Normally, I love slow-burn relationships–but for this story, it just did not fit quite right.

Overall, I really did adore Self-Made Boys. It made me like the premise of The Great Gatsby for once, and it was such an enjoyable read. For that, I give this book a starred (recommended) rating. I continue to look forward to what Anna-Marie McLemore will have next for us readers, and I hope to continue with the rest of the remixed classics series.

Separators (1)DELETEAnna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and taught by their family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. They are the author of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, a finalist for the 2016 William C. Morris Debut Award; 2017 Stonewall Honor Book WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature; WILD BEAUTY, a Kirkus Best Book of 2017; and BLANCA & ROJA, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. DARK AND DEEPEST RED, a reimagining of The Red Shoes based on true medieval events, is forthcoming in January 2020.

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