Title/Author: Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Novel in Verse, Diverse Fiction, LGBTQ
Published: October 22nd, 2013 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BFYR)
Hardcover, 448 pages
How I Got This Book: Got it from the YALSA symposium Book Blitz
Why I Picked It Up?: Because I have wanted to read more transgender stories. And because Laura just RAVED about it! And because Kristin Clark is adorable and super nice! 🙂
Book Jacket Blurb: “From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?”
Simply stated, Freakboy is a beautifully raw story of the fluidity of a human being.
Sometimes, you read a book and think “a lot of readers will really enjoy this!” Sometimes you think “what was the author thinking?” But sometimes you think “Good gracious, this is such an important story! Everyone needs this RIGHT NOW!”
That’s how I feel about this book. This is one of those books that is so incredibly important for so many reasons.
This book follows three different narrators, which may seem like a lot, but it’s not (I promise!). Brendan is a guy who loves his girlfriend, Vanessa, but at the same time he might want to be Vanessa. Vanessa, who is a girl on the wrestling team, has enough to worry about without worrying about what’s going on with Brendan. And Angel, the helper, a guide to those who seem lost, has been through a lot in her life. When Brendan meets Angel on the bus, he didn’t know just how much his life would change–as well as the lives of Angel and Vanessa.
Kristin Clark decided to tell this story in verse, and I think that is such a brilliant choice. This is a very complex and emotionally-driven story, and by using verse, she allows that emotion to speak through poetry. Poetry exposes the rawness of a story in such a beautiful way, and that is what Kristin’s poetry does in Freakboy. It allows the characters to speak for themselves, to express their deep-felt emotions, to share their deepest of thoughts. Honestly, this story would not have worked in any other way.
While the story centers around mostly around Brendan, I actually loved reading the perspectives of Angel and Vanessa more. By adding these two voices, this story becomes more than just a transgender story. Their voices add deeper dynamics to the story, which further reiterates the central idea of this novel in verse: fluidity.
We like our terms, we like our boxes, and we like it when everything fits in a box. But the world is not always so neat and organized. Life is not as simple as checking a box here and a box there. Self-identity cannot be put in a couple of boxes–it is much too complex for that. And this story…this story states a single word that makes this “messiness” okay. Fluidity. Life is fluid. People are fluid. Everything changes and evolves, grows and expands. So why do we feel the need to still put people in boxes? Because it is what makes society easier. But people are complex. Life is fluid.
That is what this story is about, and that is why this story is important. It is about the complexity of people. It is about the fluidity of relationships. It is about giving hope and finding hope. It is about not forcing people into boxes. And it is beautiful.
Be familiar with this story and make it available to the teens in your community. This book may seriously change someone’s life.
My Bookshelf Rating:
A Fourth Shelf Book!
4.5 beautiful stars. We need more books like this. We need more books that tell us it’s okay if our identity doesn’t fit into a box. We need more books that show us it’s okay to feel things that might not make sense. Fluidity. What a beautiful word that SO many people need to hear.
For a High School Library.
Love and Snow Cones,