Freak Boy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Farrar Straus Giroux | ARC, 426 pages
October 22nd, 2013
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

This is a free verse novel about the startling reality of a boy who found himself lost inside his own body. Brendan Chase has a girlfriend, a star wrestler, and a teenager normal enough to heed the call of his rioting hormones. But nobody else knows the war his mind wages against his body. His fascination with the woman’s anatomy altered from  curiosity to abject desire; a desire that had little to do with sex and more to do with the allure of having softer body, a curvier silhouette, and hair that falls like a curtain of silk. It’s not about an excuse to wear dresses; it’s about finally being comfortable in his own skin. Much like any coming of age novels, Freakboy shows the painful reality that sometimes, accepting one’s self could mean pitiable isolation.

On the periphery is his girlfriend Vanessa. She’d unconscionably given up her friends for Brendan, so when he gets into his moods, she feels isolated. But maybe if they have sex, they’ll bridge the gap that starting to widen as his depression gets worse and rampant? She doesn’t know his state of mind; he doesn’t share, and she’s afraid that when she finally gives it up, Brendan will lose his interest altogether.

Then there’s Angel; a transsexual who believes that no matter how difficult life was for her, she’s still lucky. She believes in paying it forward. So when she sees Brendan and saw the tell-tale signs of a boy on the wayward path, she offered what no one would at the time when she was headed in the same direction: friendship and understanding.

I’ve read many LGB books in my short life, but never books about T. Freakboy gave me an insight as to how much harder it is when you wake up every morning feeling like you want to peel the skin off of your own body to reveal who you exactly are. Brendan’s desperation to find himself was made palpable by Clark’s stark prose. It’s a pain in his chest that claws at the reader rather emphatically.

“Far beyond
feeling mean
at the thought
of making them guess
all I feel
is a forever
dull ache
that will
for as
long as
I do.”

You can feel the loneliness, and the abject terror that he’ll never figure out where he belongs. Unlucky for Vanessa, she got caught in a chaos of Brendan’s soul searching. While I didn’t agree with the way he strung her along, I can’t say that I would’ve done it any other way. The truth is, how do you tell your girlfriend you wanted to be a girl? Especially after you had sex with her? It was inevitable heartache all around.

All in all, I wished for a better ending. As much as I love the ambiguity of it all, I feel, it just wasn’t enough. This novel is relevant, and provocative. It offers hope that no matter how desperate you may think your situation is, somewhere out there, someone has it worse than you. But most importantly, you are only alone if you chose to be alone.

This post is my contribution to the LGBT Month LitFest hosted by Cayce of Fighting Dreamer and Laura of Laura Plus Books.


 Also, a big thank you to Miss Wendy of Midnight Garden for this copy.

  • Great review! I totally agree that this was such a great insight into the confusion that Brendan felt and that I’m sure so many questioning and transgendered people experience. The verse writing also really helped bring out all the emotion and uncertainty, in my opinion. This is one of the few “T” books I’ve read as well and I hope more come!

  • I like reading books that give me new perspective/understanding and have a powerful message. And I love this right here “It offers hope that no matter how desperate you may think your situation is, somewhere out there, someone has it worse than you. But most importantly, you are only alone if you chose to be alone.” That’s so important to remember. I’m glad you enjoyed this one! Great review!

  • Jo

    Beautiful review! It’s such a shame this isn’t published over here! It’s so expensive to get one sent over. Sounds like such an incredible story. Thanks for the review!

  • I have to admit that I’m pretty weary of books that are told in free verse. This one does sound really interesting, though (despite the lackluster ending), so maybe I’ll give it a try. Great review!

  • Ah, Joy! I’m glad you finally had a chance to read it. I desired a little more from the ending too, but it’s good you enjoyed it overall. It’d be nice if we saw more “T” books for sure.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  • Alise (Readers in Wonderland)

    I’m not a huge fan of open endings either, that’s what bothered me so much about Eleanor & Park so I may stay away from this one. I like how unique it sounds, though!

  • A shame this didn’t really satisfy you because of the ambiguity but it still sounds like a wonderful unique novel with a great message behind it. Great review Joy!

  • Faye M.

    As everyone else, I’m not a fan of free verse novels either. They sound disjointed to me, but regardless of my preferences, I’m super happy to know this one showcased a societal issue that needs to be given more spotlight and emphasis: LGBTs. They continue to struggle up to this day, and we need more books that shed more light and awareness, that in the end, beyond our sexual preferences, we’re all humans and we’re all struggling to find our place in the world. Lovely review!

    Faye at The Social Potato

    • Thank you, Faye. I think you nailed it on the head. Brendan had a tougher time because he’s one of those manly man. So the confusion is multiplied a thousand times.

  • Although I’m not usually a fan of free verse novels, this one sounds really interesting. I’ll have to check it out soon! Great review. 🙂

  • Christy

    This is a book I’ve wanted to read. I’m really curious about how the author had everything play out.

    • I hope you’ll give it a chance someday, Christy. I think we need to give one of these types of books a chance once in a while. 😉

  • Zoe

    Even though the ending wasn’t quite what you wanted, I’m really gad you enjoyed this one! Thanks so much for sharing, and, as always, brilliant review! <3

  • I don’t think I ever read something about this topic but I think it’s something interesting in fact, different too. It’s nice to know it was a good one.

  • Ack. This book sounds pretty awesome, to be honest. And full of feelings. But also sad. Agh. Great review Joy. <3 I'm glad you enjoyed it 😀 Thank you for sharing.

    • Yep. It is all of that and then some. But there’s happy in the end as well…somewhat. 😉

      • Ohh. Happy ending? Kind of? I do like happy endings 🙂

  • “you are only alone if you chose to be alone.” THIS. And I’m just so happy you loved Freakboy <3
    I actually liked the ending but yes, wouldn't say no for MORE either.

    (This week's link-up and rafflecopter is still open if you're interested 😉

    • Thanks, Cayce. I really think there’s no harm in asking for help. Being isolated is the worst kind of feeling.

  • I love when a book makes and impression and has an impact on your life. Great review!

    • Thank you. Me too, otherwise, why else would we be reading? Well, aside from the enjoyment, that is. 😉

  • I wanted to read this when I first read the synopsis, but I’m not a fan of verse books so I’ve kind of put it on hold. I’m glad to see you enjoyed it, and that it left an impact on you. Great review! 🙂

    • Verse novels are my favourite thing to read, to be honest. But that’s probably because of the poet (wannabe) in me. I hope you’ll give this a chance someday. 🙂