Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: October 22nd 2013
Synopsis: 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 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.
Freakboy is the first Young Adult novel that I have read that properly addresses transexuality. And, while I am not going to pretend to know a lot about the subject, I do think that Clark did a great job at writing and portraying transexuality. Her characters are well-written and she obviously put a lot of thought into her story. This book also happens to be the first verse novel I have read in a long, long time, and even though verse novels aren’t really my thing, I have to admit that I thought the verse to be lovely and loved Freakboy even more for it.
Things I Loved:
* The reason why this story was written. In the first pages of Freakboy, Clark writes, “to every Freakboy and Freakgirl out there. You are not a freak. And you are not alone.” My heart melted a little when I read this. By reading those three sentences, I was immediately able to tell that Clark wrote this book because she genuinely wants to help, that she wrote this book for the people out there who feel like they aren’t in the right body. I know that the intention behind the story might not impact the story of it, but I just find it to be touching enough to not care.
*The emotion. Freakboy was a very emotional story that had some moments where I was on the receiving end on a powerful emotion-face-punch. Whether something sad or happy was happening in the story, Clark made me feel every emotion vividly.
* The characters. I thought Clark’s characters to be very well done. Their problems felt real enough that it actually hurt me a little when something bad happened to them (and, of course, my heart soared when something good happened to them). Brendan, Angel, and Vanessa are all archetypes but Clark was able to bring life to them. She was able to make Brendan, the person who felt miserable and freakish because of his sexual identity, Angel, the person who has already fully embraced who she is and going forward in life, and Vanessa, the girl who has devoted herself to Brendan so much so that he is basically her world and is struggling to accept what he wants to be, feel almost tangible.
* The multiple point of views were wonderfully done. Getting into each of the characters’ heads and seeing the world through each of their eyes really added to the story. I do wish that Angel and Vanessa (I know that Vanessa will probably get a lot of hate but I was very interested in her story) had more entries in the book, but that is only a small wish, as what Freakboy did with the multiple POVs is already great.
* The verse. It was lovely and exceptionally executed. I can’t even imagine Freakboy being told in any other form of writing. I didn’t expect to love the verse as much as I do.
Things that were so-so:
* The instances when Clark chose to shape her words into somewhat of a visual form. I do love the verse prose as a whole, but the shaping words into fireworks were a little distracting and could be annoying.
*Freakboy is very open-ended. Which I didn’t exactly like. I wanted more resolution, wanted to see what the characters made of themselves. The story does end with a hopeful and uplifting note so I didn’t hate it, but I wanted more.
Things that I disliked:
* Nothing, really.
Freakboy is a brave and powerful debut and is such of an important book. I can really see this book helping people accept themselves and also helping people learn to be more accepting. The book does have its flaws, but it is a gem and I highly recommend it!