Joell Smith-Borne's Reviews > Almost Perfect

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
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Jul 17, 11

bookshelves: ya-resources-class, ya-fic, genderstuff
Read in July, 2011

** spoiler alert ** I read this book for a booktalk assignment for my YA resources class, but I don't think I can do it. I'm finding it difficult to enthusiastically recommend this book. It's told from the point of view of a guy, Logan, who falls for a girl, Sage, who turns out to be MTF trans. She's a really interesting character, maybe a bit saintly, the way she keeps forgiving him for being a jerk, but the book is really about the guy. It reminded me of those movies about South African apartheid that were always about how morally difficult it was for the white people, instead of how difficult it was for the black people physically, emotionally, economically, and every other way you can imagine. And Sage isn't even present by the end of the book; we're just left with our straight white dude's somewhat self-congratulatory reflection.

I'm trying to imagine how a genderqueer teen might take this book. Maybe just thrilled to find a character that looks like herself? Or kind of horrified to see how this book says relationships are likely to go, and she should just hope for a guy who can manage not to hit her when she tells him the truth? Maybe that's not fair--Logan really is a decent guy but he is mostly a product of his surroundings--working class, rural Missouri. Had manages to rise above what we might expect from him, but there's a lot of freaking out and running away and saying awful things along the way. And I just don't think that the most interesting story to be told is about the dude who overcomes his revulsion and accepts how he feels. We've got a teenaged transwoman whose family locked her away for like 5 years so no one would see her, whose father said he wished she were dead rather than transsexual, and who is managing to survive, transition, and keep a sense of humor and hope--I'd love to hear the story from her perspective. Maybe the author, a white male, didn't feel like he could or should speak for her.

I guess it's early days, though--there are not too many books about teenaged transwomen (the only other one I've read is Luna, which has the sister of a teen transwoman as the narrator), so we're still at that stage where we should just be glad they are showing up in stories, being presented positively, and not ending up dead by the end of the book. But after reading I Am J and Parrotfish, which are both about FTM trans teens, and told from their points of view, I'm having a hard time accepting that we can't have a MTF narrator telling her own story just yet.

And maybe I'm just impatient for realistic fiction to catch up to speculative fiction, which has been warping and exploring gender for ages.
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