REVIEW: Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Expected publication: October 22nd 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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.
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
This was the first novel I’ve read in free verse, and I have to be honest, it isn’t my favorite way to read. The line breaks and shapes interrupt the flow of reading. The subtle messages aren’t so subtle. But I get it, this novel wasn’t really written for someone like me. In spite of all that, I enjoyed it.
The book is written from three different characters’ points of view. Brendan, high school jock who’s beginning to think maybe being a boy isn’t what’s right for him. His girlfriend, Vanessa, who is in love/infatuation with Brendan, to the point that she’s left all her other friends behind. And Angel, who runs a teen center in Brendan’s town, and happens to know what he’s going through, being trans herself.
The Brendan sections by far stood out the most, but I understand why we needed to hear from Vanessa too. When something as huge as your gender identity is in flux, it doesn’t only affect one person. Brendan’s whole world is changing. You can’t help but feel sorry for him, as going through something like questioning your gender is hard enough; but add in the stress of high school and it’s almost too much to handle.
This was a quick read even though it’s over 400 pages, because the pages contain so little text. I hope other kids who may be struggling with questions such as Brendan had will find solace knowing that they’re not alone. For that reason, this book needed to be written.
About the Author
Kristin Elizabeth Clark lives and writes in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Northern California. She hikes with her dog and reads to her cats… but she’s not one of THOSE people. Really.
She has worked as a child advocate within the juvenile justice system, as a children’s theater producer, and is a proud volunteer at Project Outlet in Mountain View, California.