[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
Interesting concept, but one that could’ve gone further, and didn’t.
The novel tells the story of “Lou”, who in one life was born a girl, and in another a boy, and takes them through events of life that aren’t always the same, nor with the same outcomes, depending on the character’s sex.
I enjoyed the characters in general, whether the main one(s) or their best friend and parents, and the parts of the narrative where they had to come to terms with the impending death of a beloved one: the latter came, in one case, with heavy baggage of secrecy and forgiveness that could potentially not be given, which is always a delicate theme to explore. (Or, at least, it is for me, because it’s never all black and white, and the part of me that feels the character should not forgive constantly clashes with the other part, which isn’t a vindictive one. I’m not a very revengeful person in my own life, after all.)
While it was a quick read for me, and I liked following Lou’s path overall, I wasn’t awed, though. I think I was expecting more out of it: more of the many subtle, day-to-day ways society enforces gender stereotypes, for instance. The novel has some, such as Louise starting to wear contact lenses as a teenager because “you’d be so much prettier without glasses”, or her grandmother chiming in with “ladies don’t do this and later you’ll marry and have children because that’s what girls do”, but those were more tiny bits lost in the narrative. I also felt that some parts resorted to easy shortcuts: the corresponding gender stereotypes for Louis were mostly the oh so typical “are you gay or what” (there are so many other ways gender stereotypes are enforced for boys), and Louise’s “catastrophic night” event was… so expected that I guessed it just from the blurb. (Someone please tell me -that- is not the only dark/striking event a woman can have in her life… I mean, no such event at all would be better, of course, but there are so many other possibilities, and I believe one should’ve been tackled here, instead of resorting to the obvious choice.)
Conclusion: 2.5 stars. It is a pleasant read, one that raises valid points and lends itself to reflection, but for me, it took the easy road, where it could’ve explored so many other paths.