"A Proper Young Lady," by Lianne Simon is a book, that in part, concerns itself with people coming to terms with who they really are. It is a deep and touching novel that focuses on a young adult born with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. This topic is presented in such a sensitive way that the reader can genuinely understand and imagine what the experience of having this syndrome is like. In addition to the gender variant protagonist Dani, here is also a second key character, Dani's childhood friend, also involved in her own struggle for identity, but in some very different ways. The two are deeply bonded in friendship and a promise made when they were very young looms large for these friends as it weaves itself throughout the story.
This is a poetic novel that carries with it an almost ethereal feeling. It is a work of romance, replete with longing, unfulfilled expectations and thwarted dreams. There are some rather unusual twists and turns as it rushes toward a dramatic conclusion, leaving the reader hanging until the end. On another level this is a book that examines some of our deeply ingrained societal prejudices, particularly concerning sexuality and gender. It is rich in character development and written in a unique style whereby the reader is privileged to experience and be like the proverbial “fly on the wall,” as witness to the innermost thoughts and feelings of the central characters. You couldn't ask for much more in a novel.