Freakboy

by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Publishers Weekly Debut novelist Clark uses free verse to write a gripping story about a complex topic: the challenges of growing up transgender or genderqueer. Brendan struggles with his occasional desires to be a girl; in her own series of poems, Brendan's devoted girlfriend, Vanessa, worries about why he is suddenly avoiding her. Meanwhile, transgendered Angel-whom Brendan meets near the teen center where Angel works-reveals her own painful journey; her intense story includes physical abuse and a hospital stay after being beaten up while working as a prostitute. Clark doesn't stray far from central theme (the back matter includes resources and further reading) as she empathically explores what it can be like to be a transgendered teen (for example, not every transitioning character considers sex-reassignment surgery to be important). The author emphasizes that there are no simple answers for her characters, especially Brendan, who wonders if the transgendered label even fits. At the same time, through Angel, she gives her story a current of hope: "Everyone feels like a freak/ until they make up their mind/ they're not." Ages 12-up. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* When Brendan Chase types Want to be a girl into his Mac's search engine, one word pops up: transsexual. In Clark's raw, honest debut novel, told in verse, three voices capture a few experiences of teens on the transgender spectrum. Brendan is not one of those people / who's always wanted to wear a dress. / Who's always known / he should have been born female. Sex with girlfriend Vanessa, although confusing, feels good, and Brendan questions throughout whether or not he's trans. Fortunately, there's an angel in his life literally. Angel, trans without sex-reassignment surgery ( My junk doesn't dictate who I am ), fights against demons of her own and struggles to reconnect with her younger brother. She's a volunteer at Willows, a center for queer teens, and eventually introduces Brendan to terms like gender identity, gender attraction, genderqueer, and gender fluid. Meanwhile, the third voice belongs to Vanessa, a girl on the boy's wrestling team, who can't understand why her boyfriend, Brendan, is suddenly so distant. Unlike many novels that deal with one transgender character, this movingly explores so many gender identities, from the three main characters (each appears as a different font) to Angel's roommates. A must-have for library shelves, this will be popular with fans of Ellen Hopkins. Resources and further reading conclude.--Kelley, Ann Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Brandon, a high school wrestler, must face the fact that despite his best efforts he isn't as hyper-masculine as he feels he needs to be. Acceptance of his gender fluidity will prove to be his greatest challenge. Brandon's stepfather, a symphony conductor, appears to need regular validation of his manliness, and his mother undergoes breast enhancement surgery to appear, presumably, more womanly. Vanessa, Brandon's girlfriend, is also a wrestler; she feels she can only have a true win on the mat once her opponent lets go of the thought that she's a girl. When he's not aggressive enough in the ring, Brandon's coach calls him Brenda. Eventually, he meets Angel, an attractive young woman whose birth certificate reads "male." Angel-empowered, self-loving, and equipped to help others-can support Brandon to be at home in his body and in his craving for feminine expression. This book is a strong addition to LBGT and general collections as a compelling story for reluctant readers and an educational piece on a topic that needs discussion. The use of typography for emphasis is occasionally awkward and self-conscious, but overall this novel-in-verse presents a clear, realistic narrative in various voices. It succeeds in conveying the message that "you are not alone" to transgender youth while helping everyone else get a handle on these often-tortured teens. The author succeeds in her mission to foster "greater understanding and acceptance of gender's vast and lovely variation." -Teresa Pfeifer, The Springfield Renaissance School, Springfield, MA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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