Author: Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
Released: October 22nd 2013
Pages: 448 (Kindle)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
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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?
In Freakboy's razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons.
This is the second verse book I have read, and the first of which I have reviewed. I'm a keen supporter of LGBT rights, and I never turn down an opportunity to learn a bit more about the different situations people of the LGBT community have been through, fictional or otherwise. I've read a few novels centred around being transgender, and I'm honestly amazed at the strength these people have - how horribly they are judged, but how they still persevere to get what they know is right. Freakboy was an amazing story, and I'm just left in awe.
Freakboy is told from the point of view of three different characters - Brendan, Vanessa, and Angel. I thought this was brilliant of Clark, because each of the characters went through a different experience based around the same thing. Brendan is realising that he is, in fact, transgender, and a lot of his parts were about coming to terms with who he really was and learning to embrace it. Vanessa's parts were about learning that her boyfriend was transgender, and how she learnt to cope with it. Finally, Angel's part was told from the point of view of someone who had long ago realised they were transgender, and how her life had changed so drastically because of it. In Freakboy you got all sides of the story, and I was surprised to find that I could sympathise with each of the three characters. Nothing any of them went through was easy, and I admired their strength and perseverance.
I have to say that although I liked the direction it was going in, I didn't enjoy reading in verse. There is so much that can be said on this subject, and although the verse captured it nicely, I wanted more - I wanted to know more about Brendan, wanted to see him get help and finally become comfortable in his skin; I wanted to know Vanessa and Brendan's ending; I wanted to see if Angel got her happily-ever-after. Unfortunately, I didn't really get any of those things. I admire what Clark did, but I think I'm going to stick to novels from now on.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable read. Maybe I didn't like the format, but that didn't detract from its beautiful writing. Freakboy is a novel that will stay with you for a long time afterwards.