If you're a teenager, you could be faced with many of the everyday challenges that a High School Senior must deal with; classes, family and stepfamilies, the acceptance of fellow schoolmates, girlfriends, extra curricular activities; the list can go on and on ...but what about your sexuality? Brendan Chase seems to have the life every teen desires. He's a star on the wrestling team, a skilled video gamer, and has a loving relationship with his girlfriend Vanessa. There's just one problem ...Brendan fantasizes about having long hair, soft skin and features, and gentle curves. Trying to understand exactly why he feels this way just isn't enough. He doesn't even know the name of what to call this feeling. Freak just won't do. Kristin Elizabeth Clark's first book for young readers, "Freakboy," explores Brendan's meaning of the word TRANSEXUAL, and all the emotional impact it can have on his life as well as the others around him.
"Freakboy" has an unusual, yet creative voice, just like its characters. Kristin Clark weaves an intriguing tale of not only Brendan, but also his girlfriend, Vanessa; a bit of tomboy wrestling with to keep her relationship alive with Brendan, and who also wrestles on the High School team with him. Angel works at the local LGBT counseling center. Angel is struggling to confront her demons. Angel knows Brendan has come to her for help, but is not sure he knows she's trans gendered, nor if she should let herself be close to Brendan because Counseling Center rules say she can't have outside friendships with case studies. This is their story. Vanessa and Angel both lend themselves to Brendan's character development, nicely, and offer a clean antagonistic and protagonist's balance to "Freakboy"'s storyline.
The style of the book is prose storytelling in a poetic verse format. A simple, easy read, "Freakboy" tells its entire story in the first person, as if you're reading a three-way hybrid diary of its three main characters; same storyline from three different points of view. The author's special background in haiku, leads her to this book in "length verse." "Freakboy" contains creative typesetting, which carries the reader through the book and gently touches the reader's emotional nerve, having a greater influence than just its words on its pages. I did find "Freakboy" a tad confusing to follow in the beginning because of its constant first person point of view, however, once I invested myself in the books storyline, I felt a really sympathetic connection to its main characters.
We live in a time which is less complicated for LGBT teens to live their day to day lives. Although this is a good thing, it also can be seen as painful, solely because it opens our society's trans-gendered teens up to vulnerability at a much younger age. Sadly, coming out as gay or lesbian can seem easy compared to coming out as "gender fluid" as a young adult. There is still much society grapples with when understanding the transgendered community.
Written specifically for a young adult audience, "Freakboy" doesn't promise to be the transgender story, yet entertains as a transgender story, inspiring its readers to launch querying their own examinations on this topic. "Freakboy" would make a valuable companion, as a fictional peek into a very nonfictional topic in sexual studies for young adults.
By Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Ferrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
a division of Macmillan Press