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.