Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Gender and Women's Studies

First Advisor

Bilinda Straight

Second Advisor

Lisa Jenn Bigelow


Omi is a middle grade novel manuscript written by Hannah Powless. The story opens up on the life of 11-year-old Naomi “Omi” Price. After a summer of moving boxes, Naomi is headed to middle school in a brand-new town full of brand-new faces. Throughout the novel, we follow Omi as they figure out how to navigate many of the things that adolescents struggle with during middle school, such as new friendships, uncomfortable gym locker rooms, parents, and algebra. But that’s not all; on top of all the rest of the newness and confusion, Omi’s head is full of questions that are so big, Omi doesn’t even know where to begin. When Omi learns that a classmate is transgender, their world changes. Suddenly the uncomfortable feelings Omi’s been having start to make a little bit more sense. With the help of some friends and some trusted library books, Omi figures out that it’s okay to move forward without knowing exactly where you’re going to land.

This is the story that I needed to write because I know what it feels like to be a middle school kid, trying to figure out who you are. I didn’t know anything about the LGBTQ+ community when I entered middle school, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Youth today get the chance to be exposed to identities and people who are both similar and different than they are, and that’s a good thing! I chose to write a middle grade novel precisely because this age can be a particularly overwhelming and confusing time. Puberty is rough! This is also the age where many individuals in the LGBTQ+ community begin to feel an “otherness” when it comes to their relationships with their gender or their sexuality in comparison to their peers. I want kids to know that it’s okay to question things, and it’s okay to be unsure. Omi isn’t sure who they are, but they are excited to find out. Questioning your identities can be scary and uncomfortable, but what I hope young readers take from this story is that there is excitement and relief to be found in figuring out who exactly you are.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted