I received this book for free from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on January 20th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQIA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Buy on Amazon
Alex is ready for things to change, in a big way. Everyone seems to think she’s a boy, but for Alex the whole boy/girl thing isn’t as simple as either/or, and when she decides girl is closer to the truth, no one knows how to react, least of all her parents. Undeterred, Alex begins to create a new identity for herself: ditching one school, enrolling in another, and throwing out most of her clothes. But the other Alex—the boy Alex—has a lot to say about that. Heartbreaking and droll in equal measures, Alex As Well is a brilliantly told story of exploring gender and sexuality, navigating friendships, and finding a place to belong.
This is the first intersex book that I have read and I thought it was done pretty well. It’s not that I know nothing about it, I just haven’t read any fictional books about it. I really felt for the MC, Alex. It was sad to see what she was going through, and the lack of support from her parents. It is told from her POV, but we also get her other Alex that is also there in her head. The male Alex that she doesn’t identify with. It was interesting to see her battle with herself, and heartbreaking at how her mother treats her and pretty much refuses to acknowledge that she is female and not male.
Alex was born with a condition that gave her a small male part, but no testicles, and she has ovaries as well. Her parents named her Alex since they did not know if she was male or female, but then decide since she does have a penis, then Alex should be male. Alex has always felt like she was female, but since she has a male part, was confused. Her parents put her on medication to block the female hormones. They also never told her about her condition or that they decided her sex for her and have kept it from her. When she tells her parents she is female, her mom pretty much freaks. All Alex wants to do is live her life as female and have the support and understanding of her parents. She wants real friends. She feels alone. I wanted to jump into the book and be there for her. Be her friend, her confidant, someone to help her know that she isn’t some disgusting being and that it’s okay.
Her parents were awful. Her mom is mean and abusive. She says hurtful things and plays the victim. Why is Alex doing this to her? Why does “he” want to hurt her? Why can’t “he” just let “his” mom do what is best for “him”? (Sorry about all the quotation marks, but I don’t identify Alex as a he, so I don’t feel it’s appropriate to just write it that way.) Her mom writes a blog about it, and the posts made me so mad. That a mother can act that way about her own child makes me sick. I liked that it also had the comments from readers, some of them were ignorant jerks, and some were very thoughtful individuals.
There are other side characters that I actually did like though. I really liked Crockett, the lawyer. He wasn’t initially going to help Alex with getting a birth certificate that states she is female, but happens to see her with her mother treating her badly out in public and he becomes a very big support. He is so helpful and nice and is really there for her. She makes a few friends at school as well who are really great. There were also people who were not so nice, but that is how things really are, so I liked that it stayed realistic.
This was an interesting story that I really enjoyed. I think a book like this is very important too. There aren’t many books like this out there, though I do see that it’s becoming more common. People who are going though something confusing and hard should be able to pick up a fictional book that has characters they can identify with. They can get lost in the pages and feel that someone understands them. I really love that this book may help others going through a similar situation. It could be very eye opening for others as well. People who don’t understand. It can really help people to see how something affects not only the person going through it, but others around them too. There were some parts that were a bit disturbing, but this is how Alex felt and things that she went through, so it didn’t really bother me much. I think this is a fantastic book and I hope that other people discover it.
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