Monday, May 18, 2015

Review: Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman (ARC)

Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co (BYR)
Release Date: January 20th, 2015
Alex is ready for things to change, in a big way. Everyone seems to think she’s a boy, but for Alex the whole boy/girl thing isn’t as simple as either/or, and when she decides girl is closer to the truth, no one knows how to react, least of all her parents. Undeterred, Alex begins to create a new identity for herself: ditching one school, enrolling in another, and throwing out most of her clothes. But the other Alex—the boy Alex—has a lot to say about that. Heartbreaking and droll in equal measures, Alex As Well is a brilliantly told story of exploring gender and sexuality, navigating friendships, and finding a place to belong.
Disclaimer: I read an ARC version of this book and received it from a friend. This obviously didn't affect my review in any way.

I went into this book with high expectations. It's one of the diverse reads I had been eyeing, though I hadn't heard much about it in the blogosphere. Perhaps I should just stop expecting so much of books from now on because this is another one that sadly disappointed me.

The premise is what really drew me in, but it's the execution that pulled me out of the story. At the heart, I still like the story. It follows Alex as she tries to deal with her parents, peers, and society, all while also trying to figure out the confusion that is her sex and gender. There is so little out there about intersex people, so I'm happy that this exists for them.

But for me, the book was just too much. I know it's a huge struggle, even more so than the struggle many others in the LGBT+ community feel, and I know I can't really judge because I'm obviously not in the situation Alex is in, nor will I ever be. However, I felt like Alex's voice was really what kept me from getting everything out of the book that I should have. I thought the internal struggle was incredibly well-written, but Alex's voice often reminded me of Charlie (Perks of Being a Wallflower), Pudge (Looking for Alaska), etc's voice, and I have a really hard time connecting with and reading books with that type of voice. It wasn't anything I held against Alex, but it was just the way it was written. But I do think it's so important that this book exists because I know others who loved this book and because diversity and awareness is important, and this is a step towards that.

Even on top of that, however, was that I just couldn't stand Alex's parents, especially her mother. I mean, I know that it's probably very real and realistic for some people, but as horrible as I feel saying this, it was too much for me to handle, reading wise. I too wanted to punch her in the face every single time she spoke or we saw her blog posts. I feel like the blog posts were supposed to show her point of view/side and maybe make us feel some sympathy, but her ignorance and stubbornness and unwillingness to listen and be accepting just added fuel to the fire. So I could understand Alex and her feelings and emotions toward her mother, but ughh. I can't even imagine what it's like to go through that kind of torture in real life. I couldn't even handle it on the page.

Unfortunately, for these reasons, and for the fact that there wasn't anything that really compelled me to keep reading, I set the book aside, unfinished. I had originally planned on sticking through it and finishing the novel, but I've been reading so little lately, and I'm afraid it's going to bog me down and maybe even pull me back into a reading slump.
Alex as Well: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Alyssa Brugman: Website | Twitter

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