Thursday, November 8, 2012

Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite by Lianne Simon

Title: Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite
Author: Lianne Simon
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Length: 234 pages

Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite is the story of an intersex person named Jamie (Jameson), whose parents didn't get her gender right. When she was young, a doctor told her parents she should have been raised a boy, so that's what her parents tried to do. But Jamie was just pretending to be a boy, knowing all along that she was a girl (or, as she says, an elfin princess).

The story takes place in the 60s, which was actually the one thing I didn't like about it. I feel like setting it in the 60s makes it too easy to think this story couldn't happen now. All the characters are extremely sexist and homophobic, because it's the 60s, so someone reading this might think that nowadays things aren't so bad, when in reality there are still many obstacles for intersex children, including parents who refuse to respect the child's gender identity. I'm sure the author knows this is still a problem; I just worry that readers might not. So I feel like setting it in the present would have given the story a bit more power.

That being said, this is one powerful story. I spent half the time I was reading it in tears. Mostly angry tears. Jamie's father, in particular, made me really mad. Every time he broke Jamie's heart by being disappointed with her, I just wanted to slap him. He actually gives Jamie a list of "things boys do", saying that once she's done the things on the list, if she still thinks she's a girl, he'll consider bringing her to see another doctor.

Thankfully, Jamie also encounters supportive, accepting people, who encourage her to embrace her true gender rather than trying to please her parents. (Sidenote: I don't know if this is just how people were in the 60s, but Jamie cares WAY too much about what her parents think. If they were my parents, I would have been long gone.)

I'm not sure I've done it justice, but trust me when I say that you should read this book. It's a moving, powerful story, and you might just learn a thing or two while you're reading it.

4 stars.

Full disclosure: Free copy received from the author.

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