Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What do you do when everybody says you’re someone you’re not?

Alex wants change. Massive change. More radical than you could imagine.

Her mother is not happy, in fact she’s imploding. Her dad walked out.

Alex has turned vegetarian, ditched one school, enrolled in another, thrown out her clothes. And created a new identity. An identity that changes her world.

And Alex—the other Alex—has a lot to say about it.

Alex is a forthright, sometimes-obnoxious and engaging protagonist, and a transgender girl - very underrepresented in YA fiction. Alex As Well is compellingly written, not just an 'issues' book, though the aforementioned issues are dealt with brilliantly and with great nuance. I think every teenage reader would be able to relate to Alex's struggle for identity, even if they don't experience a disconnect between how they feel and how they appear to such an extreme degree.

I think one of the many highlights of this novel is how realistically the relationships between Alex and her parents are represented - they're complex and difficult, and neither Alex nor her parents are perfect. Alex herself is inconsistent (understandably), and her parents deal with her expressing her gender identity very badly indeed, but their flaws make them realistic. It's much easier to empathise with Alex than her parents, however.  I loathed Alex's mother intensely, but the excerpts from her posts on a mother's forum (complete with spelling mistakes and self-important commentators, which were a lovely touch) were very authentic.

It's a brilliant, honest and original contemporary YA (so honest it's somewhat uncomfortable at times). Highly recommended, and not just for YA audiences - I think it's worth a look for adult readers as well.

On Goodreads.
On the publisher's website.
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