I could write an essay about this book, what it meant to me, and how I feel about it. I loved it and I hated it. I was afraid to read another chapter, and I never wanted it to end. My head wants me to wrap Brian Katcher in my arms and thank him for such an amazing story, even as my heart wants me to pound on his chest and demand that he rewrite the ending.
I fell in love with these characters – Logan as much as Sage, to my surprise – and didn’t want to let them go . . . especially not like that.
Instead of an essay, though, I’d just like to touch on the things that Brian did so well:
- He perfectly captures the awkwardness, the joy, and the sorrows of growing up. I didn’t go to high school with the characters, but a part of me wishes I did. It’s a small cast of characters we’re presented with, and there’s no space wasted on clichéd high school conflicts that don’t contribute to the story.
- He has written a carefully-plotted story that is driven by a romance, not a romance that comprises a story in itself. There’s a significant difference there, in both style and approach, and it’s what makes this such a compelling read.
- He presents us with a story that’s real, complete with all the flaws and all the unanswered questions of life. As much as my heart craves a tidy, happy ending, he really couldn’t (and shouldn’t) have ended it any other way. Having said that, I would not be at all disagreeable to reading a sequel that catches up with Sage somewhere down the road.
- He sprinkles in just enough humour to relieve the tension, but never at the expense of the characters or the situation. The moments of humour are completely appropriate and very much appreciated.
- He offers us an honest exploration of gender identity and expression, filtered through the eyes of an outsider. As fascinating and heart-breaking as Sage’s story is, it’s only by putting us inside Logan’s head that we’re able to truly appreciate her struggles. It’s what makes the story so widely accessible, while also helping to preserve the emotional and physical mystery.
Brian Katcher’s novel is as brave as it is bold, and he’s to be applauded as much for his choice of subject, as for his talents as a story teller. On a personal note, this was a book that hit very close to home for me, and I am grateful to him for making Sage to be a woman worthy of our respect. Thank you, Brian.
In the end, I must also say that I absolutely did not expect to become so invested in a young adult novel. This is a genre I haven't traditionally explored, but I made exploring it a part of my Gender Identity & Expression and GLBT reading challenges. This read was a pleasant surprise, and has opened my eyes to a whole new world of literature. The genre has come a long way since the days when I was a young adult, and I couldn’t be more pleased.
I suspect I may need to clear some space on my bookshelf.