Goodreads Rating: 3.96 Stars
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Publishing
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2013
Get a copy here!
From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?
In Freakboy‘s razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons.
Quick Reasons: beautifully diverse; I have such a huge soft-spot for verse novels; quick read, but packed with so much to think about; this approaches diversity and gender identity in a sensitive, mature way; also covers things like bullying, abuse, and suicidal ideations; there’s also a huge focus on different types of family
This verse novel, in my opinion, gets SO many things right. Much like Ellen Hopkins, Kristin Elizabeth Clark approaches such a wide variety of themes, emotions, and moods in her writing–offering readers an intimate glimpse both into human nature and ourselves. I have always had a soft spot for verse novels, though I don’t get the chance to pick them up often. I really should work on that–they always leave me feeling broken, emotionally challenged… and so grateful for the experience.
In this novel, we follow three main perspectives– Angel, Vanessa, and Brendan. Each approaches the same situation with unique and vastly different perspectives. Each made me reconsider, rethink, and readjust my perspective. Of course, there are more than just these three characters–and ALL of them are individualized, unique, and equally important. Even the bullies, even those whose opinions oppose what the narrative is striving to impart, brought this picture together…and helped to teach me, to shape me.
Kristin Elizabeth Clark took a challenging, difficult subject and attempted to push readers toward a different line of thinking. In my opinion, she achieved this with brilliance and poise. While the read isn’t always easy–there are some very mature subjects broached, including bullying, abuse, and suicidal ideation–there are so many important, powerful morals/messages happening throughout. This read is so, SO important, in my opinion–especially in light of recent tragic events.
All this is to say… This book? Pick it up. Don’t let the fact that it’s written in verse hold you back–there is a heart-wrenching, powerful story to be found in these pages. No, let me rephrase that–there are at least three, but also so many more, powerful stories in these pages. Trigger warning for sensitive readers: topics include suicidal ideation; abuse (physical and emotional); assault; and bullying. If any of these are triggers for you, please be careful if you decide to pick this book up. This read will teach you something about human nature–and yourself–if you let it; even such short verse can go a long, long way and say so very much.