The Case of Nikki Pagan is a touching and powerful novel about a trio of unlikely friends. Rachel Eliason groups together three young people, whose struggles in the face of extremely unfortunate circumstances allow their individual greatness and heroism to shine through. This occurs through the support and love they generate for each other in the face of their devastating and life-changing issues.
It is about one young man's willingness to accept and embrace the emotional suffering of a gender variant friend, in the context of the illness and courage of a second new friend. More than this, it is a complex coming-of-age tale about a young man, whose hopes to become a college football star are dashed through the result of his own stupidity. However, this young person finds that for all that he loses, he gains so much more. His personal growth, fostered by a heightened sensitivity brought about by his own plight and growing mindfulness, lead to an ever increasing empathy for the pain and suffering of others. This is a story about this young man's willingness to move past his own personal prejudices to the acceptance of the gender issues of a new friend and his touching and growing sensitivity to the terminal illness of another.
It is a novel that is not for the faint of heart as the author recreates the realism of the emergency room and the "code blues" that summon forth the hospital faithful in the attempt to stave off impending death. While it extolls the virtues and professionalism of many in the medical and nursing profession, it eviscerates the ineptitude and paternalism of those who have placed themselves as gatekeepers to the transgender and intersex community. It is an inspirational journey to behold and a very worthwhile read from beginning to end.
[Reviewed by Samuel]