Genre: Memoir, Gender, YA
Wow it’s been a hot minute since I did a book review! Holy moly it’s been a busy summer. I’ve been reading lots though so I’ll do my best to catch up on reviews. Working my way backwards brings me to the most recent book I finished, Rethinking Normal. This memoir documents Katie’s experience as a teenager coming out as transgendered in a conservative US town, which is exactly as traumatizing and fraught with drama as you are probably imagining. Katie shares her story from the beginning, speaking about her experience as a young boy confused about his sexuality and body, but unsure of how to express the discomfort or find a solution until one day he finds an article online about transgendered children. Much of the same sentiments were expressed by Janet Mock in her excellent memoir Redefining Realness. Katie found a strong supporter in her Mother, who then stood by her side as she transitioned, but predictably faced her fair share of struggles at school and with her friends in both high school and in college.
Katie’s story caught fire and she was booked for a variety of media events and public speaking gigs, particularly after she met her boyfriend Arin, another trans teen. Of course the media thought two trans kids in love was a real heart-wrencher and Katie and Arin promptly had their faces splashed all over the place. It actually sounded incredibly exploitative and obviously created complications for Katie when anyone she met could google her name and discover the “truth” about her, whether she was ready to reveal it or not. But Katie points out that she wanted to do whatever she could to raise awareness and give hope to any other individuals out there struggling with their gender, and for that I give her mad kudos.
This book though… it was just not very well written. Katie is young, and it reads like she is young. Which is GREAT for other young readers, obviously! Maybe I was just a bit older than the targeted demographic. It makes sense that this book is a teen talking to other teens and it is meant to help them on their own journeys, may it be gender, sexuality, bullying, family problems, or other teen dramas. The language was fairly juvenile and the subject matter, once the transition portion was completed, fell into a a series of chapters detailing Katie’s love life which, to be honest, were not all that interesting. No doubt Katie is a super brave young woman and I am always incredibly impressed by people who are able to share their life stories so openly and honestly. Thanks for sharing your story with us Katie!!
Recommended for: Teens looking for a role model on how to stand up to bullying and learn to be happy with your true self.