Claire's Reviews > Almost Perfect

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
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's review
Apr 22, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: aaaaangst, quiltbag, ya

ETA, four years later: this book still makes me angry and upset, more so because it won the Stonewall. And I find that I never, ever, ever want to recommend it ton anyone.

Ok. Mixed feelings on this one.

I don't think this has ever been done before! The plot was new, powerful, and very compelling to read... unfortunately also made me feel sick. As a queer reader, the tension between identifying with Logan (fairly likeable, pretty well-developed, sheltered, first-person narrator) and identifying with Sage ("spoiler": she's trans) was seriously enough to give me a stomachache, literally. I had a really strong reaction to this, especially to Logan's disgusted, horrified responses to Sage. Intense. I assume this will be the case for many readers -- it says right on the flap what's going to happen, so I feel like it's more than likely that a queer reader will pick it up expecting something less jarring. I agree with reviewers who suggest exercising caution before handing this one to a trans teen, especially a trans girl or one who is beginning their transition or feeling vulnerable.

The writing was kind of awful, and got worse as the book went on. I kept getting pulled out of the story by how bad the writing was... and I'm not picky with prose. Clunky, tedious, and ultimately a slog in terms of writing. But the plot and the characters overcame those flaws with moments of acute tension -- at points, this was a real page-turner.

I really found myself wanting to know more about the author. Why did he write this, and write it this way? Cause Julie Anne Peters he isn't. Apparently it was an idea he had, a fictional germ of a story not based on or inspired by anyone in particular. He did do a lot of interviews, apparently. Interesting. Not enough to convince me it was a good idea for him to write.
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Reading Progress

April 22, 2010 – Started Reading
April 22, 2010 – Shelved
April 22, 2010 – Shelved as: aaaaangst
April 22, 2010 – Shelved as: quiltbag
April 22, 2010 – Shelved as: ya
April 24, 2010 –
page 158
42.93% "This is turning out to be a really difficult read, emotionally! OMG, big thoughts!"
April 25, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Kirsten (new) - added it

Kirsten I just started reading this -- I'm struggling quite a bit with the clunkiness of the prose, but I'll persevere.

Claire Yeah. I found myself really furious about it winning the Stonewall last year - it seemed like the worst possible choice to put on an awards list that teachers and librarians would use to hand books to kids potentially in crisis. I've disliked it more and more in my head since I read it, actually.

message 3: by Kirsten (new) - added it

Kirsten I made the mistake of skimming through at random and gleaning most of the plot, and now I am having a hard time bringing myself to read it. I feel like I should in order to give it a fair shake, but it's tough.

message 4: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Now that I read up on it after your comment, I will definitely be taking the Stonewall awards with a grain of salt.

Claire Well, it's a different committee every two years. And there's no way to know what the discussion is behind closed doors... especially since sometimes people's top top choices are removed and everybody compromises on a less top choice.

But man, I'm still displeased about that year.

message 6: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Bigelow I feel like I can't stand most of the Stonewall Committee's choices. It's been several years since I've read this one, and I doubt that I'd revisit it, but I'm interested in your reaction.

message 7: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (revisiting due to your recent mention) I've basically stopped reading LGBTQ middle grade / YA, and maybe it's gotten better--and presumably the committees are more savvy these days, with more LGBTQ/more out YALSA members? Anyway, throughout my life I have rarely been impressed with LGBTQ-themed fiction recommended to me by straight people. On the other hand, some of the older stuff that gets criticized for being too tragic, but which was actually written by queer people, often has a lot of good authentic stuff in it when I read between the lines. I'm no kind of expert on trans stuff and I feel like I wouldn't know a good example of translit if I saw one. TL;DR: not surprised the Stonewall committee's opinion doesn't jibe with yours... but disappointed, yes.

Claire I think it's getting better? Certainly better than *this* one. But yeah, I agree -- I'm hoping that the shift away from "we need 'diverse' books" to "we need #ownvoices books" will help with that too. I went to a book rep presentation recently and there were two upcoming MG/YA books about trans girls, both written by straight cis women, and my immediate reaction was dread and a sinking feeling.

message 9: by Ian (new) - rated it 1 star

Ian Wood I actively avoid books that have won awards! Unfortunately I didn't initially realize this one had. Now I know that the Stonewall award is meaningless, so at least I learned something!

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