May 26, 2014

Reviewing... [63] Alex As Well

What if you felt like you had to prove your gender?
I wouldn’t like it but I could probably prove that my characteristics are typically more feminine ones, that my interests are more feminine and so on... That’s beside the point.

Reviewing... [63]

Source: Curious Fox; for an honest review! Thanks to THE FOX :D
Author: Alyssa Brugman
Recommended For: You like books which are unique, aren’t afraid to be completely honest (in their perception, I understand it'd mean lots of research & a bit of guessing, we can allow artistic license though, I think!) & discuss issues(?)- these issues many authors, and in general many human beings, don’t go near enough to touch with a very stretched out toe... but maybe, you're this person who does dare to read it. If so, YOU. Definitely perfect for you.

Alex As Well isn’t just a story about an intersex teen, that’s not what it’s about.
No, the blurb, reviews and labels aren’t lying to you. I mean, Alex is boy and girl I suppose. The way this came across at first was that Alex compartmentalizes in her head that something is a girl thing, another thing a boy thing. Splitting up what girls say, what boys say.

It’s about good people, it’s about bad people.
Some of the themes have been told in YA before, others haven’t that I know of. It’s not just the gender exploration based bit, it’s other parts.
Alex As Well is about family relationships and socialisation in that; in fact... this book does put quite a weight on nature I suppose as it doesn’t seem like she’s been ‘nurtured’ to be a girl. Alex isn’t who she is as much as you’d expect because of her parents. Definitely not.

One thing I love is that I’m not the only one that has noticed how society has been shown to be part of the reason Alex wasn’t a boy, despite her parents choosing for her to be, a quote which demonstrates this is: “ that book "Fun Experiments for Boys". I'm not sure why possession of a penis was so important for the science.”
Yeah, why? Maybe because I have quite a scientific mind and do find experiments fun I can’t be a girl anymore. No. Of course not!
Alex actually talks as if the boy/girl part of her are separate- how can she be so sure the girl ‘personality’ is the dominant one when they both are present? I really did wonder... I didn’t see why gender had to be so defined for Alex that she’d think ‘that’s the guy part of me’... Unfortunately, sometimes she contradicted herself (it seemed like that was when the two Alex persona’s opinions clashed).

Alex’s parents chose for her to be a boy. Do you know how hard that must be? I can only imagine. Having to chose somebody else’s gender for them. It’s almost surreal. Shouldn’t birth certificates have a ‘neither/both’ option or something?
I feel sorry for them that they made the wrong choice, it must make them feel guilty as that’s caused Alex to not be happy for years. I can see why Heather, Alex’s Mum, feels like she’s a bad parent and she is. There are reasons, such as she isn’t a strong person & she’s been put under immense pressure so it’s starting to show strain. But she really, really is. The characters are all complex, Heather’s a great example and the fact that she has an online support group where we hear her thoughts when she’s actually not being impulsive & is given some time to think it through is helpful. It’s often different to what she says when we see her & Alex interact, which is interesting but shows that perhaps Alex is a bit of an unreliable narrator. Additionally, it illustrates misunderstandings, a much worse & obvious one nonetheless, that happen between teens & adults. The brain works differently at those ages, so, like Alex, I still found it hard to relate to Heather. The internet group commenters helped form my opinion, I’d wonder who I most agreed with & this is how I decided what I thought of Heather (I got yo back, Vic!)
It seems like Heather just could never be nice to her daughter to her face, only insults would come out. Which is why Alex feels unloved... a little praise would go a long way. How nice would it have been if Alex had known that her mother thought she was “strong and fierce... she's going to need to be fierce, because the path she is on is going to be so painful”.
I do agree, Alex is definitely a strong character who narrates (epistolatory writing) this book with such a gripping tone and brutal honesty, it really reminds me of Charlie’s narration in Perks Of Being A Wallflower. It’d be incredibly rude to blank her talking to you so I just... carried on reading... and read Alex As Well is one day. There obviously are key differences, for example, as I said, you hear from more than one narrator!
Heather thinks Alex has had everything she could want. Well, I think she’d probably have liked to actually have a gender as easily defined as the majority. I think she’d like better memories of nursery. I think she’s like to not be called ‘perverted’ as if it was a choice she made. Plus, what’s perverted about just not being 100% male or female? I’m sure a little less verbal abuse would help.

There were a few minor points which I thought were unbelievable:
How did Alex just manage to enrol herself in a school so easily? The secretary could tell Alex had signed herself in & there was no parent actually filling in anything. They just hand her Uniform & she goes to a new school while still being enrolled in her old school. That major flaw in the education system has to fictitious, doesn’t it?
Some of Alex’s reactions to things, a specific thing which she just blurted out, also seemed highly unlikely, for anyone, regardless of gender. But overall- I enjoyed Alex As Well. As you can tell, it brought lots of different thoughts to the surface & could really spark discussion for a reading group!

I really do recommend at it, at the end of this all though; books like this are thought-provoking issues & they are very awesome to read about. Yes, that’s my experience with the first book in the LGBT I’ve read that actually probably explores a teen’s life with a debate about sexuality and, not only that, gender. I hope you like ‘Alex as Well’ if you decide to read it. What are you waiting for? You’re not that spoilt for choice if this is a topic you’d want to read about but luckily, you got a great option- a book I read in one day (which I manage about once or twice a year!), I wasn’t quite sure what to think at first as so much had happened... but yes, it’s incredibly worth it.

Amy Bookworm (@Amy_Bookworm)rated this book:

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