Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman (Young Adult, 9/10E)

 May 2014, Curious Fox, 216 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Themes: making friends, bullying, starting new school, gender identification, modelling, trouble with parents, using a solicitor, finding yourself, acceptance,

Content: some physical and emotional abuse, tissue needed

Summary from Curious Fox
"Why does it matter whether I am a boy or a girl? But it does. It really, really matters." When Alex was born, the doctors described him as “sexually ambiguous”, with both male and female reproductive organs. For the last fourteen years his parents have raised Alex as a boy. They dressed him in boys’ clothes, sent him to a boys’ school and gave him medication to help regulate his hormones. But last night at dinner, Alex made an announcement, three words that would change everything: “I’m a girl”. And when Alex sets about changing her life – her wardrobe, her school, her entire identity – no one knows how to react, least of all her parents. 

Nayuleska's thoughts
I knew Alex's tale would be a thought provoking read, yet I underestimated how heavy it was. Life is hard for Alex, who wants to be a girl despite Alex's parents bringing her up a boy due to her dual gender. That by itself is tough for an adult to deal with, let alone a teen. What makes it harder is the lack of support from Alex's family which leads to legal intervention as more issues are revealed. Alex doesn't have a close friend to help get her through it. I'm calling Alex a her because that's who she feels she is. Alex eventually makes a friend in a roundabout way, which helps a little. 

I think it's sad that people in Alex's situation have to rapidly mature mentally to deal with other people's ignorance. What Alex is subjected to by both her parents and her peers made me cry and want to curl up in a ball for Alex's sake. Alex isn't perfect, she does some crazy things which aren't right and has to deal with the consequences, but she isn't the nightmare her parents make her out to be.

 I loved how Alex managed to find courage to do what she wanted, rather than what others wanted her to do. I'd have preferred not to have the occasional strong and inde9th thoughts that males have, but that's the only thing I wasn't keen on. There isn't a clear path for Alex, and I doubt that the future will be sunshine and roses. Hopefully there will be some fun - by the end Alex ends up in fashion which I believe will be the gateway to her future.

Find out more on Alyssa's website.

Suggested read
For another teen going through a tough time is Alice in Looking For JJ by Anne Cassidy (Young Adult, 10E/10E)

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