Most parents find being responsible for a new life upon a child’s birth to be daunting—but imagine if you had to make a decision that would change your child’s future forever—before you even have the opportunity to get to know the child.
Alex was born. Stuck in between the male/female gender assignment. While at first, assigned as a girl, Alex was eventually gender-fied as a boy. Of course, at 14, Alex doesn’t know this—he only knows that something is missing until he starts adding makeup and dressing like a girl. Alex is a she, and identifies even moreso when he stops taking his daily hormone therapy. Alex goes to a new school, and adds a lawyer to the fight t get a birth certificate identifying him as a female. Things go good as a girl, Alex is able to model. She has friends for the first time in her life, but the kids at school are another story—they want to know why Alex is so solitary. Realizing she wants to be a girl is easy, Alex realizes, but it makes everything else more complicated.
Throughout the novel, I just wanted to go back to Alex and hold her hand. I wanted to say ‘It will be okay.’ But then I would go back to my own experiences and realize just how much everyone is into themselves. I would like to think that it would not matter—that was definitely a period in my life where I wanted to help everyone. Alex is so well written, truly going back and forth in an honest manner and being herself in the midst of so much else going on. And, to be honest, it is such a simple thing that she wants—to be considered herself. Why should she not get the chance as everyone else does?
Heather comes across as sympathetic in her blog posts that are found throughout the novel, however readers of the novel can see how she manipulates the truth. While I feel like some of what she feels is justified, there is no excuse for her behavior. Yes, Alex strikes back, but it is because of Heather’s obtuseness that Alex strikes back in the first place. And what she does at the school is even worse. I feel like some of her commenters, like Vic, as essential in order for her to get out of the place where her head is currently. However, a lot of what she posts is just terrible. Alex’s dad, while it sounds like he was originally sympathetic is eclipsed by his crazy wife.
The girls and boys at Alex’s new school are predictable and while they are more with it socially than Alex, they are definitely teenagers. Unfortunately, Alex lacks the knowledge on how to deal with them because of the way he’s been held back socially.
Call me a sucker for a fish out of water story, but Alex as Well highlights so much about what is wrong with society. I love that there is a conversation between Alex and her Dad where he likens her questions to an ambush. Alex responds with a request to consider them as a surprise party—Conversation AND respect are essential to the growth and health of any relationship.
I want to thank Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for allowing me the opportunity to read this in exchange for my honest review. It was a fine read. At times, I wanted to burst through the pages and slap someone (mostly Heather)—but in a good way.
I recommend Alyssa Brugman’s Alex as Well to anyone that has ever struggled with their identity. Brigman handles the hot-button topic with the honest and respect it deserves.
Alex as Well is available from your favorite retailer on January 20, 2015.