Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher. (Grades 9-12.) Delacorte Press (Random House), October 2009. Review copy provided by publisher.
High school senior Logan was crushed when his girlfriend Brenda dumped him. He was having a really hard time getting over it. Enter Sage. Sage is a new girl in his school, in itself a rarity in a small Missouri town where Logan has known all his classmates since Kindergarten. And Sage is kind of stunning. She's tall with wild curls and she seems to like him. Logan starts to think he can forget about Brenda.
But then Sage tells him a secret: she's actually a transgendered boy. And Logan will have to decide what to do. He knows Sage needs a friend. But is he strong enough to stand beside her, knowing what people would say and do if they found out?
The first thing I really liked about this book was Logan's realistic voice. I felt like he really came to life and I could really believe that he was telling me this story of something that happened to him. Here's how he describes Sage on the first day they met:
Maybe it was the way she obviously worked so hard to give the impression she didn't care how she dressed. Or the tiny lines radiating from her green eyes, lines that a teenager would get only from constantly smiling. And what a smile! When she grinned at us, I got the strangest feeling, like she was smirking at something foolish I'd just done but it was okay because she thought it was cute. (pg 18 - quote is from ARC and may appear differently in final copy)
The next thing I really liked about this book was the unique perspective. There are a couple of YA novels about transgendered teens (Luna and Parrotfish come to mind), but this was the first tale I'd seen told from the perspective of the heterosexual partner. Logan's in a hard spot in this book. He knows that his conservative community would never accept Sage if they knew the truth about her. But he's also a good guy. As much as he'd like to, he can't leave Sage to fend for herself.
And then there are his own confused feelings. If he's still attracted to Sage, does that make him gay?
Almost Perfect is a great addition to the cannon of GLBT YA literature. I'd recommend it to any teen with an interest in the subject.
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