"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

01 February 2016

Alex As Well

Note: This review was originally written on 1/21/15, but due to my service on the Stonewall Book Awards committee, I could not publish any reviews of young adult or children's books featuring LGBTQ characters until after the awards announcement.

Brugman, Alyssa. Alex As Well. Henry Holt. & Co BFYR, 2015.

Alex is intersex, but she was raised as a boy and was given testosterone to make her appear more boy-like. Now, at fifteen, Alex has decided she wants to live as a girl. She's not sure that she wants to settle on either gender permanently, as she sometimes feels as though there are two Alexes, one of each gender, living inside of her.  The night she announces she wants to be a girl, her father leaves and her mother flips out. Alex has never been told she's intersex, only that she's "a little bit different." Now her mom is blogging about her experiences raising Alex while Alex is buying dresses and has enrolled as a girl at a Catholic school.

I was glad for Alex's strong voice throughout this book. She knew what she wanted and she went about getting those things. Alex is dealing both with her intersex condition and her mom's probable mental illness.  Alex's mom drove me crazy, but she did the same thing to Alex. Her blog posts are something else entirely, especially since Brugman even included comments at the end of each post. I think the combination of the blog posts and Alex's story make this book an easy sell for young adults, and the inclusion of a genuine intersex character is something that has been needed for a long time. I am glad to have this book on my library's shelves to provide both mirrors and windows for my patrons. Also, I loved the ending. Absolutely loved it.

Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: language, Alex's mom physically abuses and also frequently misgenders Alex; Alex refers to her genitals as her "noodle;" there's a scene where some boys at Alex's old school bully her and force her to take off her pants and her underwear
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Read-Alikes: Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, Almost Perfect, Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite

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