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Like Son

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  262 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
A groundbreaking second novel that recalls both Sandra Cisneros and Andre Breton. Finalist for the 2008 Ferro-Grumley Awards for LGBT Fiction.

Set amidst the outsider worlds of New York, Los Angeles, and Mexico City, Like Son is the not-so-simple story of a father, a son, and the love blindness shared between them.

Meet Frank Cruz: a post-punk thirty-year-old who unwittingly
Paperback, 280 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Akashic Books
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Nov 25, 2007 Preston rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All
When you read this wonderful book--and I hope that you will--you will discover that (Gawd, I hate to sound so cliche) . . . that transgendered people are people too. There, I said it. The author's trick in this book is to take for granted that being transgendered is no real big deal in America anymore--so in a way then this is a kind of postmodern presumptive novel (did I coin a new genre?). It presumes that if you are a female-to-male transgendered person that the most improtant thing in your l ...more
Mar 28, 2011 K rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbtq
When I picked up this book I was pretty excited, and although I could feel engrossed most of the time, overall I wouldn't say this book does much other than tell a story I've already heard and in more interesting ways. The writing is mediocre (no, it's not a good idea to use a cliche and just have your narrator acknowledge the cliche, that's bad editing), sometimes entirely too obvious, and although simplicity can sometimes benefit a writer, it just doesn't work here. For the most part. There we ...more
Dec 24, 2007 Lewis rated it it was amazing
A good book I happened across at the downtown library. It was recommended by Eileen Myles and Michelle Tea, but I did not let that prevent me from reading it. It was worth it....the trans character was written about without a constant mention of their trans status....and the girlfriend reminded me so much of an ex it was creepy. Good story...
May 18, 2008 sylas rated it it was ok
Recommended to sylas by: Walker
I really, really wanted to like this book, but honestly, it was quite boring.

Though, it is refreshing to read a book about a trans character that isn't all about gender stuff. That being said, I expected more from the story itself.
Jan 30, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: adults.
Frank (formerly Francisca) hadn't seen his father for over 20 years when he gets a call from him announcing that he's dying. Frank decides to take care of him, and because his father is not only dying, but now completely blind, he decides not to correct him when he calls him Francisca. His father left him an unusual legacy, part of which leads him to seek out his insane, estranged mother. She refuses to let him in the door, and thrusts a wad of money at him. Frank decides it's time to really bre ...more
Carrie Laben
Jul 19, 2014 Carrie Laben rated it liked it
Meandering and at times improbable (you bought persimmons at the Union Square farmers market? Really?) this book is nevertheless a quick, engaging read. Frank and his father are both well-drawn; one wishes the same courtesy had been extended to the female characters - at least the ones alive in the present. Neither Frank's mother nor his girlfriend appear to have much purpose in life except to cause emotional crises for Frank. The poet/idol and Frank's paternal grandmother come out a bit more ro ...more
May 19, 2008 Walker rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer, gender
I liked this book,it wasn't the best I've ever read, but I got pulled into the characters. Like Son was an interesting look at growing into being an adult, that sometimes what what we want in life is rather normal, even if we have defined ourselves as 'freaks.' Frank has to deal with his family and an imagined past, loves and fears. How do we get to where we want to be in this world. It seems like Frank and Nat's journeys are really just starting.
On a side note, I am so glad that authors are wri
Feb 20, 2016 Chas rated it did not like it
Not without its virtues - liked that it was a narrative with a trans male protagonist but wasn't entirely about transitioning - and some of the place descriptions were good. It's written like a conventional plot-driven narrative, though, but nothing happens in the plot and I'm not convinced there was any real character growth, either. A lot of the plot elements felt fantastical in a poorly researched sort of way, and the narrative perspective is frustratingly tight - we're trapped inside Frank's ...more
May 02, 2007 Summer rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2007, novels
The problem with this book is the same problem you find in a lot of the Art of the Other - a silenced group is so glad to have something that speaks in their voice that they're willing to overlook that it's not very good. This book is horribly written, with utterly uninteresting characters and no compelling narrative. I kept reading because there are few novels with non-gender-normative characters (see, there's that hook again), but when it was finished, all I was left with was, "That's the endi ...more
Oct 08, 2008 Nancy rated it did not like it
the story was as annoying as Nathalie, the object of the narrator's affection...trying too hard to make connections between his life and that of Nahui Olin, a predecessor to Frida Kahlo apparently, the author told a story that I was only able to get through because I hate leaving books only motivating factor was to find out what happened at the end only to find that nothing happened at the end...
Oct 06, 2016 Michelle rated it liked it
I had mixed feelings. I struggle with the typical crazy femme I keep encountering in queer fiction. Where are all the queer femmes who financially support their partners and aren't emotionally manipulative?
What I liked best was that the characters just happen to be queer/trans and while that isn't tangential it's not central to the story either.
The writing style is beautiful and rough in a queer-vegan-anarchist way.

Apr 08, 2009 Karen rated it it was ok
This book has all the ingredients for a good read (FTM trangendered Latino from California moving to NYC after the death of his father) but fell flat. The main characters quickly became annoying. I have enough self absorbed, self pitying people to deal with in real life, so why should i care about these characters? Ugh.
Kelley Ross
Nov 07, 2011 Kelley Ross rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book and I think it really helped me understand the troubles a transgender person can face. I did feel like a lot of the scenarios were a bit heavy-handed though. There were a lot of themes repeated (giving rocks, train accidents,etc) that sat right on the edge of artistic mastery and too much theatricality.
Jan 03, 2014 Karey rated it did not like it
With characters that are highly underrepresented in literature and all the potential this book had to tell an interesting story, I was really disappointed that I didn't like it. The narrative was awkward/clumsy, and it felt like the characters and storyline never developed fully. I stuck it out to the end hoping it would get better, but it never did.
Sassafras Lowrey
Nov 19, 2016 Sassafras Lowrey rated it really liked it
I haven't read this book in years (close to 10?) and am so glad I picked it up again. So queer and gritty and smart, this is a book that captures the feel and texture both of a political moment, but of a queer age, and coming of age. I appreciate the robust queer femme presence - flaws and all, as well as the historical queerness magic, mysticism and spirituality woven through the text.
Jul 15, 2008 Ciara rated it liked it
Recommends it for: florists, fans of mexican poetry, trans dudes with obnoxious girlfriends, drama hounds
Shelves: read-in-2008
i wanted to like this book, but it was seriously flawed in its construction. it's the story of a young trans man. he has a bit of a stormy relationship with his father, who was largely absent while he was growing up, but they re-connect soon after the protaganist transitions & the dad is starting to feel his mortality. eventually the father gets sick & the protag takes care of him while he dies. after the father's death, the young man finds his inheritance: a box full of love letters exc ...more
Apr 02, 2008 Chak rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 23, 2016 Austen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy Brown
Dec 26, 2007 Amy Brown rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people looking for transgendered characters who are not sensationalized because of it.
The first half of the books deals with sadly complicated relationship with the main character's father, showing how they go from estranged to dying in the other's arms. The subject of Frank's gender isn't brought up but a few times, and is easily avoided because when he reunites with his father, we find the father's blind. Maybe a bit too easy, but it made for a unique situation where instead of bringing the gender change in and that driving the plot, Lemus can focus on their new relationship an ...more
Jul 26, 2007 Evan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
Well, this book is a book I loved reading. It's about a guy who was born a girl, his dying father, his touched mother (I don't really how to describe his mother, she's nuts really) and his partner of 7 years or so and how he deals with them and feels about them. After the reader meets his father and mother, Frank moves to New York. He and his girlfriend, Nathalie sleep thru 9/11 and their relationship is forever changed. Frank is also obsessed with a photograph his father, on his deatbed, has gi ...more
Oct 06, 2008 kate rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
this has been glaring at me from the shelf for months upon months now. i enjoyed Lemus' first novel immensely for her subtle interrogation of gender, the way her sentences come together, & the way her characters' relationships make me ache occasionally in recognition. i read this in one sitting, & so much of it worked, but good goddamn there were some glaring problems.

i was predictably charmed by the scene when Frank plants a stolen tree in a pothole on some avenue in new york as a roma
paulA neves
Mar 31, 2009 paulA neves rated it it was ok
Don't waste your time with this one. An exasperating example of the fallacy of imitative form, this book had so many potentially interesting ways it could have gone (transgendered protagonist who idolizes his father, a blind dreamer and romantic; a high-achieving but completely dysfunctional immigrant mother; a parallel storyline about a half-Mexican poet/socialite; an inscrutable girlfriend; the 90s East Village scene), and ended up going nowhere. The fact that that was probably the point just ...more
Shawn (ThatOneEnglishGradStudent)
It's very refreshing to read a novel from the point of view of a transgender person. What I love about this book is that it doesn't make the protagonist's transgender identity the main conflict; it's just a book about love and romance and family that happens to prominently feature a female-to-male transgender individual.

This is a really fast read. The narrator's voice feels very conversational and at times reads like a diary, which is both good and bad. Overall, a really interesting book, partic
Dec 19, 2007 Coffeeboss rated it it was ok
The idea of the book is more interesting than the full package. Frank is 30 and living in post-9/11 NYC. What makes him interesting, or at least SHOULD make him interesting is that he was born biologically female as Francisca, but has chosen to live as a man. He has a complicated relationship with his distant mother, but is most connected to his father, who died of cancer when Frank was in his early 20s. Frank navigates a torrid love affair with a saucy minx named Nathalie, while fantasizing abo ...more
Micha Meinderts
Feb 26, 2010 Micha Meinderts rated it it was ok
Not enough focus on the FtM bit so I was left with a lot of questions. I applaud being casual about stuff like that, but it really was marginal.

For the rest... I guess I'm not cut out for real literature, because I thought it was boring and pointless. The style was rather inconsistent, with directly talking to the reader like the main character was telling a story, but only in spots, not consistently so. It was probably full of metaphors and stuff I all missed, but I mostly missed the action, an
Jul 31, 2007 Timothy rated it liked it
If I could give it 3 1/2 stars, I would. Wouldn't bump it up to 4, though. Mustn't succumb to grade inflation.

Generally, I found this book interesting enough to finish reading. That's not the case with a lot of books I pick up. The cover photo is really compelling, and it plays an interesting role in the book.

Oh, and it's about lesbians. But it's not a "lesbian novel", which I found very refreshing. It's just about lesbians, and the narrator doesn't bore us with extended monologues about her tra
Aug 19, 2007 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the world
I think this is one of the best new "transgender" fiction books to date. I really loved the author's first book, Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties, even though I could never convince anyone else of how great it was because the writing was a little too "pomo" stream of consciousness for them. But this one is more narrative, and the same doubters (namely Paige, my sister) have been won over. I highly recommend the book and I find myself hesistant to describe it in more detail because I don't wa ...more
Aug 10, 2007 Jenny rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lindsay
This was a very well written book. It's a love story and finding one's family all tied up into one book. The author really weaves together an unremarkable story in a remarkable way. When I first read the jacket, I had a hard time imagining what the book would be like, but it developed beautifully.
Dec 18, 2007 Zaftig rated it it was amazing
contains the most astonishing sentence in the english language, in my opinion:

"I imagined walking on cracked downtown sidewalks and spying with my smart eye endless concrete fluctuations squirming as quickly or as slowly as need be to avoid the extinguishing tug of shifting universal truths." (Lemus, 205)
Jun 21, 2007 Charissa rated it it was ok
What I am able to say about it is that what seem like huge topics from a contemporary point of view (transgendered protagonist, lesbian relationships) are not treated as "major." I quite appreciated that. Lemus approached her character as a person, rather than a symbol.

It didn't save the book, but I did appreciate her subtlety.

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“i knew she'd leave me. i figure we might as well go somewhere memorable to fall apart” 2 likes
“Tall, muscular, and broad-shouldered, he’d been an obvious hire for the railroad company, but the recruiter had looked at his young wife’s protruding belly and had wanted to hire only him. Disgusted to have to play such games, she batted her eyelashes and, a convincing smile lighting up her pretty face, flexed the muscles of her right arm for show: “I promise, I am a good worker.” She signed the paperwork along with her husband. And cried herself to sleep that night. Something tragic was waiting for them. There had been signs. Only hours after she’d been hired, she had seen warning in the pueblo curandera’s eyes. “Will you please bless my babies?” she had asked when she arrived at the curandera’s home with her toddler daughter in tow. “Of course,” the curandera had said, and invited them in. “Sit, please.” She motioned to her one chair and then to the clean-swept dirt floor beside it for the girl. The curandera kneeled in front my father’s mother. One hand on her pregnant round stomach, the other hand on the little girl’s head, the old woman closed her eyes and breathed slowly, the deep wrinkles of her face smoothing as she concentrated. This quiet stillness continued for minutes. And then: “No!” The curandera yanked her hands away as if she’d felt fire. “The baby?” my father’s mother asked nervously, her hands moving in an instinctive, protective gesture to her middle. “It is a boy,” the curandera said. And then she stared at the little girl and refused to say more. The next morning, the curandera visited my father’s mother. “This is for the girl,” she said, and handed over three slices of candied sweet yam. “Give her some each night before she sleeps.” 0 likes
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