Wellbeing by Teacher is dedicated to improving the lives of teachers and school leaders by providing them with informative, evidence-based strategies on how to care for their body, mind and overall sense of wellbeing. We also share recipe ideas, fitness tips, book reviews (and more!) from teachers, school leaders and others working in the sector.
In today’s piece, Zoe Kaskamanidis, Editorial Assistant for Teacher, shares her review of Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans.
If Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans were a feeling, it’d be the wonder of stepping into a lush forest, trees too tall to see the tops of and tiny fern fronds unfurling below you. It’d be the electric rumble of a thunderstorm through the earth into your feet and the cool dewy air as the rain stops soon after.
There are many common tropes in young adult (YA) fiction: the romance, the heartbreak and the struggles with identity. In Euphoria Kids, we see a subversion and a retelling of these themes with a refreshing and raw authenticity.
The novel follows the enchanting story of Iris, who grew from a seed under their mums’ mossy garden; the new boy at school, who is yet to find his name; and Babs, who is made of fire and who both feels and often is invisible, thanks to a witch’s curse in childhood.
The 3 characters navigate life as queer teenagers hanging out at school, at each other’s houses practising spellwork, giving each other stick and poke tattoos and exploring the Australian bush – where danger lurks in the magical realm.
The setting of the story was inspired by Evans having grown up on Wurundjeri Country in Emerald in the Dandenong Ranges. Their descriptions of the bush where upon the eucalyptus trees and ferns ‘dew glitters like crystals … setting off rainbows,’ and the mystical faeries, dryads and witches we encounter move the reader between figurative and literal magic with gentle ease.
While filled with these enchanting visual depictions, the story hums with another kind of magic unlike anything else I’ve read.
Centring non-binary and trans characters, Evans maintains a sense of tension and drama through the story but shifts the narrative away from dysphoria and tragedy to provide a space for euphoria, friendship and belonging to really shine.
While they explain that Euphoria Kids ‘maybe isn’t realistic’ in its absence of dysphoria and trauma, they highlight the importance of offering a positive future for trans youth, to ‘tell a different story they can see themselves in’.
As they write in their author note, ‘I want people to know about gender euphoria. I want them to learn about it before gender dysphoria. I want young trans kids that will read this book to be proud of who they are, and imagine wonderful magic lives for themselves.’
And the story truly is brimming with tender care, deep understanding and courage. It’s one that will stick with me for a long time, and that I’ll keep recommending to friends and family who need their cup filled with a little bit of magic.