Jamie by L. D. Lapinski

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke

The 21st Century has seen a marked change in attitudes. Many traditional beliefs have been questioned and people are more prepared to speak out to support their ideas.

The children’s book, Jamie, by L. D. Lapinski highlights some of these changes. The main character and narrator is 11 year old Jamie Rambeau who is faced with the problem of where to attend High School.  In the area there are two schools, a Boy’s School and a Girl’s School. Jamie discovers that, ‘Neither of the schools want me there as I am. They want me to pretend’ (60). Jamie does not identify with the gender allotted at birth. Jamie is non-binary.

This book provides much information about those who do not fit the traditional binary mould and their struggles to fit in. There are the universal themes of not fitting in, not being taken into consideration and standing up for what you believe in.  In between the chapters can be found Jamie Rambeau’s Guide to Words which helps provide greater understanding of terminology used for and in the non-binary world. For many this is a completely new world. As Jamie says, ‘Once you realise how binary the world is, it is difficult to see things any other way’ (55). The story highlights the feelings of all concerned in this tale – parents, administrators, police.

One of the major obstacles for communication seems to be the use of pronouns. I found myself caught up with this problem while writing the review. I believe that this story comes from a very personal place. The information at the back of the book about the author says, ‘When they aren’t writing L.D. …When L.D. grows up they want to be…’. In an interview the author, L. D. Lapinski stated, ‘’As a queen writer, it is really important to me that books include queer characters who aren’t defined by their gender or sexuality alone. While coming out stories are still so important, I feel that it’s equally important to show queer characters having adventures, forming non-romantic relationships and doing things where their queerness isn’t actually a factor’.

Apart from providing an awareness about people who may feel marginalised, this story is also one of mateship. After embarking on their own campaign of awareness, Jamie is very proud of the co-conspirators and two best mates Ash and Daisy. ‘They’d stuck by me and helped me to do something incredibly brave and incredibly stupid because they were my mates. Because they wanted to help me’ (183).

The story follows Jamie’s journey to solve the current problem. One thing that is very evident in this story is how those born in this century so readily accept this new way of thinking about inclusiveness.

Although this story is very educational and addresses issues that are quite important, there is also humour that the young reader would enjoy. The descriptors when things become difficult for Jamie are very graphic and would appeal to all ages. ‘I felt like a balloon with most of the air let out of it- just a saggy bag of breath left on the ground’ (87) and ‘The mood came crashing down like a piano dropping from the roof’ (95).

The seriousness of the situation the three friends find themselves in is clear by Jamie’s description of Mr Rambeau’s attitude at the police station – ‘Even though I’d turned my dad into Mt Vesuvius just waiting to blow, I still felt like I’d done the right thing’ (182).

L. D. Lapinski is also the author of the children’s fantasy book The Strangeworlds Travel Agency series – magical adventures set among many not-yet explored worlds. The striking cover for the book Jamie, depicting the trio’s awareness campaign, was created by a fellow non-binary artist Harry Woodgate.

This book is easy to read with its double-spacing text and its overall size and shape make it easy to carry or slide into a bag. It is a children’s book for our new world.



By L. D. Lapinski

Orion Children’s Books

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 978-1-510-11092-2

$16.99; 272pp

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