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For Today I Am a Boy

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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,648 ratings  ·  431 reviews
Peter Huang and his sisters—elegant Adele, shrewd Helen, and Bonnie the bon vivant—grow up in a house of many secrets, then escape the confines of small-town Ontario and spread from Montreal to California to Berlin. Peter’s own journey is obstructed by playground bullies, masochistic lovers, Christian ex-gays, and the ever-present shadow of his Chinese father.

At birth, Pet
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Jaimie Goodreads, please delete this post, it is transphobic. This is not the place for you to announce your discomfort with trans* people, it is hurtful and…moreGoodreads, please delete this post, it is transphobic. This is not the place for you to announce your discomfort with trans* people, it is hurtful and misguided. If you are uncomfortable with trans people, you can decide for yourself if you want to read a novel with a trans protagonist, or better yet, give it a try anyways, that's what fiction is all about. (less)

Community Reviews

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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,648 ratings  ·  431 reviews


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Debbie "DJ"
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cultural, lgbt
This novel was so good I devoured it in two days. It follows the main character, Peter Huang, throughout his life. Peter was born a boy, but believes he is a girl.

I've read a few transgender books before, but the way Fu was able to take me into the innocence and confusion of her main character was remarkable. She shows what it feels like to essentially live a double life. How culture and society can become destructive forces when they hinder one's ability to choose a life directed from within.

T
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Allison Hiltz
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
From The Book Wheel:


When I was in college, I took a human sexuality course and sat next to a beautiful woman who had, as it turned out, been born a male. And so was her girlfriend. To top it off, one had reassignment surgery and the other had not (but was planning to). Naturally, the class was abuzz with whispering about whether they were heterosexual (due to body parts), homosexual (due to birth body parts), or lesbians (due to identity). But the best part about the whole thing was that the two
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Wart Hill
Jan 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book free through a GoodReads First Reads give away. (I also apparently can't spell "received")

Note: Throughout my review, I refer to the MC as Peter because this is the name used throughout the bulk of the novel. I do, however, use female pronouns because it is clear that Peter identifies as a woman.

I've been thinking about what to say about this book all afternoon at work, and I still am not really sure. I liked it. A lot. For the most part. Except for chapter 5, which was mind
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Rebecca
Nov 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fu’s formidable debut, reminiscent of Jeffrey Eugenides and John Irving, makes a worthy addition to my list of gender-pioneering books. In 1979, Peter Huang is born – the third of four children, and the much-wanted only son – to a Chinese immigrant family outside Toronto. He grows up in a kind of sorority made up of older sisters Adele and Helen, and younger sister Bonnie. In first grade, for his “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up” assignment, he chooses “Mommy.”

Despite school bullies and his fat
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Mish
2 1/2 Stars

Peter Huang, born to a Chinese couple whom migrated to Canada and the only male in amongst his three siblings. There’s a level of hierarchy within the family were the father is the domineering one, the bread winner and decision maker, and the mother is expected to carry out her ‘Motherly/Wife’ duties and her opinion and voice is not heard. The father had high expectations for all his children as far as education and career goes but with Peter, being the treasured male in his father’s
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Melinda
Jun 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Peter wrestles with gender expectations and his own gender identity.

Fu introduces the reader to a family ruled by a quasi tyrannical father heavy on Chinese cultural and traditional beliefs. Although the story focuses on each family member, Peter ultimately becomes the center of the narrative.

Peter, the only male son born of two Chinese immigrants – his life mapped out from the womb by his father. The burden of expectation serves as a yoke around Peter’s neck. Successful, a pillar of strength, m
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
I first encountered this book on a GoodReads list, Anticipated Literary Reads for Readers of Color 2014. I'm not really comfortable with the term "color" but the list is great, and I added almost everything to my to-read list, since I am always trying to read new authors from different backgrounds. Then it came up on NetGalley and I jumped at the chance, and the publisher agreed to let me read an eARC for an honest review.

For Today I Am a Boy is about Peter, one of the youngest siblings in a Chi
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KimberlyRose
Feb 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I wanted to like this book about an MtF individual, to give it a five-star rating, but there was a surprising distance held between me and the first-person narrator. I felt a constant "juuuust out of reach" to the narrator's emotions. Perhaps it was the method of delivery, the "snapshot" path, instead of linear? Or was it the excessive (dull) symbolism and attempts at highbrow "look at me, I'm lit-er-a-ture"? I also dislike the story style of one MC who interacts with a plethora of characters--i ...more
El
Jul 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to El by: The F-Word
If this hadn't been a book chosen by one of my Goodreads groups, I probably wouldn't have picked this up on my own because I can be sort of lazy about contemporary novels unless there's so much chatter about something that I can't ignore it, and just to shut everyone up I will read it. That's not so much the case here, though I'm surprised there isn't more chatter about this book.

Peter Huang is a boy amongst a family of sisters. His family moved to Canada from China, and his father is what many
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Swantje
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This novel gives you a good understanding of what a transgender or intersex person may feel like, especially if for most of their life they haven't the opportunity to explore their gender.
Before I read the book, I wasn't even comfortable with the idea, but this book really helped me understand how a person like this feels.
In the book, it's not even talked about whether Peter is intersex or transgender or what.
The only hint we get is that Peter has a very small penis when he is born. His paren
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Kathleen Bianchi
I won this book from Book Browse. Other people who had read the book joined in a internet book discussion. The saddest time for me was that Peter never came out of the closet. He was almost 40. There are the words to a beautiful song named "For Today I Am a Boy". It is perfect for this book.
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
I enjoyed this book, but it was a very gentle read. Not that there's anything wrong with that - there just weren't a lot of peaks and troughs, with the tone being somewhat lighter than it could have been, given the subject matter. It's quite difficult to review a book that is more-or-less all about atmosphere.

It actually reminded me quite a lot of another book I read recently, Ghost Tide, which was rather unfortunate timing on my part. The other book similarly focussed on the life of a Chinese b
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Anita Fajita Pita
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Anita by: The F-Word
Shelves: 2016, non-fic-bio-mem
A short read about growing up in the wrong body. I found myself very moved by the simplistic presentation of Peter's feelings as he goes through life.

There is a lot going on here: with the Chinese emigrant family in Canada, the culture "wash" enforced by their father, yet that same culture allowing for many restrictions in the home, and Peter's struggle with self. There's also a great cast of characters in the sisters, and the relationships between all the family members.

A good read.
Rena
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Initial Thoughts...

I think it took Peter a long time to find where home was, but once she did, I was happy.

Later Thoughts...

I took me a long time to think about what rating I would give this book, For Today I Am a Boy, mostly because I had to let the story sink in. It's not a linear story, nor is it particularly easy to read Peter's tough journey from perceiving her identity as a child to becoming her authentic self as an adult. The book has its bright spots, though. And the ending is so satisfy
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Red
I wish a book like this had been around when I was young, could be heard screaming from the mountaintops of every reading list. There were actually, though maybe not on reading lists. If in my growing someone had put a copy of Jan Morris' Conundrum in my hands, would I have saved myself any sooner? Probably not. Reading For Today I Am a Boy (hereafter Boy) reminds that a lifetime of self-loathing makes for a rocky road to self-discovery.

Boy makes my heart ache. It takes me back to those foggy 20
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Bonnie Brody
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is a book that I really wanted to like a lot. The topic interested me and I looked forward to reading it. However, I was disappointed with the book's choppiness and it's lack of depth in characterization. Most of the characters seemed like cookie-cutter personalities without a lot of development.

The story is about Peter, born into a male body but feeling always like he is a girl. He wishes he was his lovely sister Adele or Audrey Hepburn. Peter's is born into a first generation Chinese fami
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Katie
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Full disclosure: My educational background is in gender studies and I've focused quite a bit on trans studies. That's probably a huge part of why my mother-in-law (also a feminist with a major love of can lit) sent this novel to me as part of a birthday package (thanks, Shelley!).

I saw a lot of myself in the John/Eileen characters at the end of the book--those privileged enough to come from accepting backgrounds, with access to copious amounts of theoretical literature and activist circles. Bec
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Caitlin
This review can also be found on my blog, leafandpage .

Wow. Just wow.

I started crying in the last few pages, and I have been on the verge of tears since. This was a beautiful book, it really was. It was heartfelt and sweet and tragic. There were so many wonderful, touching moments, and so many moments of hurt.

I think what's important to note is that, while the main character is Trans, that is not ultimately what this book is about. It's crucial to the story, absolutely, it's extremely important
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Nina
You know when you finish a book and you're too overwhelmed or busy or Internetless to write a review and suddenly it's ten days later and you have no idea what to write anymore?
Yeah.

This book is all about atmosphere, and Fu does atmosphere like a fucking pro. It's suffocating and entirely too miserable to be fun, and at the same time it's incredibly vivid and colourful. It's a patchwork of memories and feelings, and they're not in any particular order that the reader can see, but that's probably
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Mary
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is not an in your face book about transexuality. It attempts to (and I think succeeds) in sharing what the daily experience is like when you are born in a body that society has so "gendered" that you never feel like the person you "are". For Peter, he has always been a "girl/woman", but he was born in an incredibly private, a word which doesn't even do the experience justice, Chinese family where he is the only boy. To Fu's credit, this is not a simple book of Dad hating/rejecting son, it's ...more
Alyssa
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is... amazing.

I love the style. The way it is written in the beginning, with time sliding around as real memories are recalled in our own heads, in order of significance and not of time.

I love the depth. The way she repeats things before to mirror new things that happen, mirrors her own life against itself to create a hall of mirrors that shows the same character parading through so many walks of life.

This book spoke to me so deeply. I felt guilty at some parts, for being a woman. I
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Sara
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book had a fairly loose plot, but it's basically the story of Peter, the only boy in a Chinese American family. His father expects him to be a man and has extremely high hopes and standards for him, but what Peter really wants is to be a girl. The story covers a few decades of his life, showing scene snippets here and there, and just kind of shows how his life unfolds.

The writing in here was very polished. The author's bio notes that she has a MFA, and this writing degree shows. Clearly she
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Brianna
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I disagree with others that the novel is not served by its "non-linear" progression. I also disagree that the novel is entirely non-linear. While it does jump casually through time and space, with the exception of relevant, interjected flashbacks, it tends to do so in a forward progression, as Peter ages. Maybe in one chapter Peter will be 8 and then all of a sudden in the next she's 16; this didn't bother me at all and I'm dubious that this alleged "non-linearity" hinders the narrative. There a ...more
Monika
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on my blog, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall:

Kim Fu handles the transgender perspective in For Today I Am a Boy with the utmost care. This is not a radical, explosive book meant to shock its audience. Instead, it centers on Peter's thoughts, feelings, and experiences as he tells us about his childhood, his loved ones, and his coming of age, in his own voice. There are a number of subtle but powerful moments that made me forget this is a work of fiction; much of the time it reads
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Leah (Books Speak Volumes)
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
The only son among three sisters in a Chinese Canadian family, Peter Huang is under enormous pressure to live up to his father’s ideals of Western masculinity. However, Peter struggles with his father’s expectations, for he knows in his heart that he is really a girl.

This book wasn’t quite what I expected, but I don’t like it less for that. This is not an “issue” book about what it means to be transgender. It doesn’t contain gender theory or a deep internal struggle with identity. It’s about fam
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Rich in Color
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Review copy: library

I’ll be honest. I was hooked in by the cover design, which is gorgeous. (It looks even more beautiful in person.) When I read the description, I thought — I’ve got to read this. I read For Today I Am a Boy on a three hour train ride. When I got off the train, I still had the last quarter of the book to go, so I walked about the city in a daze, still reading.

For Today I Am a Boy matches its cover — it’s beautifully written and utterly heartbreaking. The story of Peter’s life,
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Jan
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I received this book free from goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

I really wanted to like this book. And I tried, I really tried. I read a lot of GLBTQ books and am always eager to read any new ones that address any of those themes. So I enthusiastically entered the contest to win a copy of this new title. I'm sorry to say that I did not enjoy this book at all, nor can I recommend it.

What didn't I like about it? I think the main reason, and this is always a big one for me in t
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ida
This is another hidden gem I found through Goodreads! I love discovering less known and AWESOME books that way!!

I mean this book is about a trans character that's written by a cis person and I am also cis so I'm probably not the best person to judge these things but I think this book was written very tastefully and also realistic. (I'm going to use the pronoun 'she' because Peter was never a man) I think her inner struggles throughout her life and her isolation probably reflects what being trans
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Meghan
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
A coming of age novel about a boy in a Chinese immigrant family in Canada who knows he wants to be a girl. Growing up with three sisters, Peter envies different qualities about each of his siblings: Adele's Audrey Hepburn-ish elegance, Helen's drive, his younger sister Bonnie's careless confidence. His father is domineering and overbearing in his need for a son and for that son to be successful and not shame him.

As Peter leaves home, moves to Montreal, and lives through his 20s and 30s, he expe
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Anita
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anita by: Sam
just let your kids do what they want!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :(

my sister is making hawaiian bread rolls in the kitchen right now on christmas day and all I did was stand beside the mixer and read my kindle propped up on some guavas (the kindle on the guavas, not me)

we asked my grandfather whether he ever wanted grandsons instead of granddaughters and he said no, girls stick to you more, which is nice, but also its own kind of sentence. someone told me about nominal destiny ("n
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173 followers
Kim Fu is a Canadian-born writer, living in Seattle, Washington. .

Her first novel FOR TODAY I AM A BOY won the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. It was also a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and long-listed for CBC’s Canada Reads. Fu's debut poetry collection HOW FESTIVE THE AMBULANCE received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, a
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“The older you get, the more every trauma is the same trauma.” 6 likes
“So,” John said, “I’ll meet you at your place at eight, and we can walk over together?” “What? For what?” “The vigil.” “I’m not going to that.” I tried to ignore his surprise, his dogged faith. “Of course you are.” “I don’t know this person.” John continued to stand there, arms hanging down. The knife skidded so much I lost my grip and had to pick it up again. “It could’ve been you,” he said finally. “No,” I said, chopping bluntly, breaking more than slicing the lettuce, “it couldn’t. I’ve worked my whole life so that it couldn’t be me.” White flash of a face. Where did they go, those boys, after they left us behind? “Last night,” John began. He paused, still looking wounded. “You were so happy.” I gathered the lettuce into a bin and held it against my stomach like a barrier. “If it had been me, it would’ve been your fault.” John reeled as though I’d struck him. “You’re a coward,” he said. “You’ve worked your whole life because you’re a coward.” “What do you know? What do you know about anything?” His family moved for him. The hormones. The surgery he was allowed to accept or reject. I waved my arm around the kitchen, at the stunned cooks watching us. “Nobody has to know about you! You can blend in whenever you want!” “You honestly believe that? You think my life’s been easy?” “Yes, I think it’s been fucking easy!” I screamed. “They don’t know! I didn’t know! I wish I still didn’t know!” I tried to shove past him. He touched my back. I remembered Humphrey Bogart’s hand, I remembered dancing, I remembered the gown twirling, I remembered the boy who complimented my ass, I remembered being told I was beautiful. I remembered the woman staring back at me in the Métro windows, her wink. I tried to pull away. John embraced me with my arms pinned to my sides, the lettuce bin between us, its raw, wet smell pushed toward our faces. In full view of the entire kitchen, he kissed me. A kiss that made me think of the woefully few people I had kissed in my life. A kiss that reminded me I had never been loved. A kiss that said I could not be John unless I risked being Dana.   My” 2 likes
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