Wednesday, October 15, 2014



by Kristin Elizabeth Clark


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 "Freakboy"'s""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.

My thoughts:

Brendan is a wrestler, an excellents students, and has the perfect girlfriend.  But for Brendan being with Vanessa just isn’t enough; sometimes he wants to be like Vanessa, with soft skin and long, silky hair. Vanessa is the only girl on the wrestling team and has had to deal with quite a lot of harassment from the rest of the team.  She loves Brendan but when he starts to pulling away from her, she is hurt, scared because she has no idea why.  Angel is a trans, who has not had sex-reassignment surgery and maybe never will because as she says she is “blessed to like me / the way I am”.  Angel has had to travel a hard road and while life is pretty good now she still has her set of problems to deal with. Angel works at Willows Teen LGBTQ Center and when she meets Brendan she decides to try and help him figure out where exactly he feels comfortable on the gender spectrum.  In a style that will remind readers of Ellen Hopkins, Clark’s Debut novel Freakboy is told from three very different points of view using free verse to tell a compelling story about a very complex topic. Freakboy explores many different types of gender identity showing the reader that sometimes there is no easy answer when it comes to gender and introducing a few new terms that the reader may not be familiar with such as genderqueer and gender fluid. This novel doesn’t shy away from the struggles that most transgender teens will face at some point but it also offers hope. Clark’s Freakboy is a must for libraries.

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