"Cool, sassy, brave, heartbreakingly tender and loyal. Do yourself a favor. Get the book." Nikki Grimes
"Intense, rich writing and poignant themes! Beautiful!" Joanna Marple
Kirkus Starred Review
A fantasy that reads like a lost history tome and deftly examines issues of gender...An engrossing story with welcome depths."
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Tiadone was born female, but her father declared her male because she was the firstborn and their community has always treated her that way. As she reaches puberty, she leaves to go on a year-long assignment as a border guard. Although she has always identified as male, the Creator seems to have other plans. Some of her female traits are developing anyway, and she must hide them from the others near her. Grover's world-building is flawless and enchanting. The issues that Tiadone must face are relevant for all adolescents who are learning to be true to themselves. Jorjeana Marie's narration is relaxed yet emotional during this rocky adventure. Whether listeners are looking for an adventure or fantasy, they will not be disappointed in this selection. This will make a great addition to a high school or public library collection.—Elizabeth L. Kenyon, Merrillville High School, IN --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
In order to avoid gendercide, Tiadone struggles with her life as a declared male for the benefit of society under oppressive rulers.
Two years ago, the United Nations declared October 11th to be International Day of the Girl. The UN has said, “Girls face discrimination and violence every day across the world. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.”
Bravo, to the United Nations for this intentional focus. With their estimate of 200 million girls missing around the world due to gendercide, dowry infractions, and forced abortions of girls we need to stop and think and act.
Since the publication of FIRSTBORN, inspired by my outrage over gendercide, I've been trumpeting the work of All Girls Allowed. The nonprofit funds young women, pregnant with females, so they can carry their babies full term and keep them. They work to stop the intentional annihilation of girls. And then there's the Global Gendercide Advocacy and Awareness Project who takes internships, rgz! Or there's the movie which is absolutely chilling. Take a look at the trailer for IT'S A GIRL and then watch the full movie on NETFLIX.
Celebrate INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL!
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA?
Firstborn sprang from a news article I read concerning gendercide. I was horrified to learn that over 37 million girls are missing in China alone, due to the One Child Policy enacted in 1980. The work of All Girls Allowed and the Global Gendercide Advocacy and Alliance Group provided further chilling information regarding the killing of females at birth. My anger brought my novel to form. I wanted to write a fiction work to bring light to gendercide while declaring the value of our daughters. The dedication of my book is: To firstborn females, may they all be allowed to live.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE SETTING OF THE NOVEL?
Oh, the setting is a high desert! In Western Washington it is a short trip over the Cascades to reach high desert sun and warmth. I have gone on many writing retreats in Eastern Washington, and our family has vacationed in high desert areas, such as Oregon, Utah, and Arizona. I love the starkness, the curving color and line, and the wildlife, especially, the birds.
DID YOU DO MUCH RESEARCH ON GENDER ROLES WHEN WRITING THIS NOVEL?
I did research on cultures who assign, or declare, females to work and function as males whenever there is a shortage of men. In various groups, these women perform the role of men their entire lives for the benefit of their society. That fascinated me, and I found it to be a fresh concept for my fiction. My character wouldn’t be hiding her sex, but she and her community would be denying its existence.
I also researched ancient Sparta. There I found the practice of removing young boys from families to send them to harsh military camps. That became the perfect life experience to test my female, living as a declared male.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR MAIN CHARACTER AND THE CHALLENGES SHE FACES IN HER COMMUNITY ATTEMPTING TO PASS AS A MALE?
Tiadone is firstborn female, a first to be declared male by the oppressive, ruling Madronians. Her father chose the declaration to avoid being forced to leave his newborn daughter to die in the elements. All believe her femininity is removed by the amulet she wears about her hips. Nearing puberty, Tiadone readies to serve the community by guarding the Perimeter with her bird and other boy patrollers. There she must exhibit all the bravery and strength of a male. She must play the game under the harsh treatment of the rulers and the ostracism of the other patrollers. All the while, her body is maturing and her femininity is growing harder to suppress. She searches for religious truth, her purpose, her identity, and her worth.