“My name is Michael, and I’m wearing a dress.”
Michael’s Black Dress by James Thibeault is so much more than just a story about Michael, a high school senior boy who finally plucks up the courage to tell his secret — he likes to wear dresses. This novel is also about those around Michael (friends, lovers, family, classmates, teachers) and how they too are affected by Michael’s secret. The story begins with Michael sharing his secret with his twin sister, but soon escalates into a series of events in which Michael’s secret is discovered by his entire school. Michael and a group of friends must then find their place among the changing attitudes of their peers and decide if being ridiculed is worth truly being themselves.
Michael’s Black Dress really sheds an inner light on the struggle, the truth, the uncertainty, the shame, the fear, and the happiness that come from being able to be yourself in front of everyone. Switching narrators throughout the novel, readers learn more than just the inner turmoil of a young man wishing to wear dresses. They will also see the struggles of a young man hiding who he loves, a young woman trying to overcome stereotypes, and several other characters hoping to accept those around them.
Michael’s Black Dress does an amazing job of putting the reader inside the mind of a young man on the brink of a life-changing decision. However, this story goes so much further than that, because it also goes inside the mind of Michael’s closet circle. It really gives voice to the fact that making a life-changing decision never just affects the person making it, but also those who love them. This would be an important read for both boys and girls in their late teens to early twenties who either share the struggle of the main character or relate to one of the secondary characters.