As you all know, I’m always up for something different. Something that hasn’t been done before (or that I don’t know has been done before). Alex As Well is absolutely different, but I’m not sure how I feel about it.
I’ve read several young adult books about transgendered teenagers, all with quite different takes on the transformation story. In Almost Perfect Sage is living has a girl, although she hasn’t gone through a gender reassignment yet. Breaking Free‘s Raimi has gone through her reassignment, and her very supportive mom even moved the family to a new town so Raimi could begin her life as a girl without people who knew her as a boy.
When I requested the advance copy of Alex As Well, I was expecting something like this. What I had thought would be different was the way that Alex (girl) and Alex (boy) were both present. It’s a bit strange, actually, the way the book is written. You see, Alex is intersex. Both versions of Alex are present in her mind at all times. It’s often confusing. And since I really didn’t like Alex (boy), I found his presence annoying. It took away from my time with Alex (girl).
Alex’s doctors told her parents they could basically choose whether they wanted a boy or a girl and to just raise her according to that choice. They wanted a boy, so that’s what they made Alex. Unfortunately, hormone therapy couldn’t completely mask the fact that Alex was actually a girl, at least in her own mind. And like many teenagers, she finally decided to be who she really was. Of course, much conflict and maternal hijinks ensue.
I think my favorite aspect of Alex As Well are the posts from Alex’s mom in an online forum. Alex talks a lot about how insane her mom is, and my first instinct was to think she couldn’t possibly be so bad. Well, her words on the forum prove she really is that bad. Seriously awful and in need of professional help. Oh, and the best part? There are comments from other members of the forum. Freaking hilarious.
Unfortunately, those moments of hilarity are vastly outnumbered by Alex (boy) and the strange modelling career that Alex (girl) falls into. I mean, she gets started when her school library is doing a fundraiser that involves students doing a fashion show. Maybe it’s an Australian thing. That would so not go over here. At least not in my little suburb. So while I’m pleased to see a new take on the gender identity story, I’d rather read Middlesex.