A 3.5 star book, rounded up.The blurb lays out the plot of Almost Perfect neatly Logan is falling madly for Sage, and then he discovers that she was born a he So this is much about Logan s struggle to understand and accept Sage as she is than it is about Sage herself Logan is, honestly, a bit of a jerk on than one occassion, to Sage and to other people in his life And it is completely, entirely realistic This does not make Logan s narration easy or even pleasant to read at times, and I sometimes struggled with reading his thoughts This was also the case with Playing with Matches, another book by Katcher that I enjoyed Sage is the focus and the standout star of Almost Perfect She s vibrant, than anyone else in this book I was glad that the book ended on a somewhat hopeful note for her I m not really qualified to comment on or analyze how Katcher handled the issues a transgender teenager faces, so I ll leave that to others.Katcher seems to be very good about writing somewhat unsympathetic yet very realistic protagonists It can make for a compelling book, but it can also make for an uncomfortable one, as it sometimes did here Well written, but hard to read. Honestly Don t bother.Our hero, Logan, is insufferable He s that way from the beginning until the very end He s the kind of guy who thinks every woman in his life owes him something for nothing His ex, Brenda, apparently owes him sex since they were dating for three years he actually regrets being respectful of her boundaries when they were dating Sage owes him explanations about her life just to make him feel comfortable with the fact that she s trans, not out of any actual concern for her or interest in her well being There is never a point in this book where Logan is not pushing his insecurities onto Sage.He s not that nice to his friends, either Whenever he brings up his overweight friend, Tim, there s always a mention of food Does Logan even know this guy outside of what he eats Does he care Are they actually friends I have no idea I don t think anyone would want to hang out with Logan if they knew what was going on inside his head What are this kid s redeeming qualities He does the bare minimum required of any of his relationships What does Sage see in him, other than that he s the main character Without the glue that is the narrative holding them together, I doubt he d have any friends at all.Here are some choice quotes from our lovely protag I d call Sage, all right Tell her if she ever told the world what she really was, or if anyone ever found out, then I d hurt her I would I don t know why I didn t put that sicko in the hospital Sage certainly had it coming I scrubbed myself raw Too bad I didn t have some lye or some ammonia to burn Sage s touch away I had never been so disgusted How could I not have known my mental image of her naked body filled me with horror no, not her him I grinned as I opened my locker Sage was afraid of me Scared Timid She d think twice before treating a guy like that again If she knew what was good for her, she d keep to herself from now on So he s transphobic and homophobic This is not something that gets better as the book goes on Logan says he ll accept Sage, but he never does He constantly demands explanations from her, not because he s interested and cares about her, but because he wants to convince himself that he s not gay He doesn t accept her for who she is a woman He thinks of her as a man It s a wonder she wants to hang around this guy at all He says she ll never be a real woman to me He listens to her talk about her difficulty transitioning because he thinks it ll help remind him that she s not totally a girl She is a girl, though, and try as the narrative might to make it seem like Logan comes to realize this, it s very hard to believe He misgenders her at every turn.Logan s a douche who only notices a person s worst attributes and doesn t bother to try and see anything good Logan s sister discovers that Sage has a penis, and he calls Sage the person who made me look like a fag in front of my sister Is this the guy we re supposed to feel sympathy for He refers to Sage as his darkest secret Seriously That s something that a guy who was learning to be a better person would say In lieu of growing up and trying to do any actual understanding, Logan bemoans the fact that he s a shitstain and a coward and doesn t bother to try to change his behavior Other things to note He s got some serious violent tendencies He threatens to punch Sage after figuring out she s trans, he punched one of his friends, doesn t apologize for it and nearly does it again, he thinks about putting his sister s boyfriend s face into a lawnmower just because they re dating He s got some serious issues that he never resolves.Anyway, this may not surprise you, but Sage doesn t get a happy ending It could have happened, but it didn t Because the writer didn t care to, I guess The author says that the book wouldn t have been possible without all the real life Sages who were willing to tale their personal tales to him This is how he respects and honors them, by writing this fucking book He should be absolutely ashamed of himself This book is a mess and a disappointment. You Only Hurt The Ones You LoveLogan Witherspoon Recently Discovered That His Girlfriend Of Three Years Cheated On Him But Things Start To Look Up When A New Student Breezes Through The Halls Of His Small Town High School Sage Hendricks Befriends Logan At A Time When He No Longer Trusts Or Believes In People Sage Has Been Homeschooled For A Number Of Years And Her Parents Have Forbidden Her To Date Anyone, But She Won T Tell Logan Why One Day, Logan Acts On His Growing Feelings For Sage Moments Later, He Wishes He Never Had Sage Finally Discloses Her Big Secret She Was Born A Boy Enraged, Frightened, And Feeling Betrayed, Logan Lashes Out At Sage And Disowns Her But Once Logan Comes To Terms With What Happened, He Reaches Out To Sage In An Attempt To Understand Her Situation But Logan Has No Idea How Rocky The Road Back To Friendship Will Be As I walked towards Bio, I found myself thinking about Sage I couldn t remember ever meeting a chick that strange Ever after an hour of class, I knew that weird girl wasn t like anyone in Boyer Too colorful, too outspoken, too wildnarrator Logan Witherspoon, page 27After thoroughly enjoying author Brian Katcher s debut Playing With Matches thank you again for the head s up on that wonderful book, GR friend Rebecca M earlier this month I eagerly sought out of his work at the library Would his second novel fall into the dreaded sopho slump It does not at all in fact, I may have liked Almost Perfect even This story centers on high school student Logan Witherspoon, a small town Missouri teenager killing time until graduation and the start of college at Mizzou Still smarting from a break up with the only girl he had ever really dated, Logan doesn t really expect to find a love in his senior class only 48 students total But of course, that when he s assigned a new bio lab partner a student has just moved into the district.That would be eighteen year old Sage Hendricks Like a breath of fresh air, she breezes in and she and Logan develop a near immediate rapport She s confident, humorous, intelligent, and physically attractive to him However, she s also unusually secretive about her family and her past They try dating, and have a few disagreements Soon, though, Sage simply levels with Logan I m a boy Sage is transgender, born a male but never comfortable with it After receiving a small inheritance from a grandparent she began secretly ordering hormone medication from Europe However, she experienced other issues that resulted in her displeased father moving the family to Logan s town.Logan, to his credit since he fully admits his community is sheltered, and his real world experiences are few , takes this all in stride about as well as can be expected At first he is understandably upset, but he and Sage soon make amends and interact with each other in a boyfriend girlfriend manner.I wish I could say that the story has a conventional Hollywood or fairy tale happy conclusion I think many of us would like to believe love conquers all but Katcher wisely goes the realistic route with the situation The Logan Sage relationship experiences some hits not just meant as a figure of speech and things start go badly for the two of them In fact, one of the characters is the victim of a particularly brutal act of violence, and reading about the aftermath nearly brought tears to my eyes Almost Perfect just really got to me, and not many fiction books have recently done that I became very invested in these two characters, and I wanted everything to be okay for both of them, even whether or not their relationship worked out It put me through the proverbial emotional wringer, and it made me think On top of that it was a page turner of a story Good work, Mr Katcher. Great book There are a lot of great reviews for it, but I ll add my own for my friends This book is great, but difficult to read It s about a college senior whose girlfriend of 3 years broke up with him While he s still quite vulnerable, he meets Sage In a small town, having a new student is exciting She s tall and quirky, and he thinks quite pretty They become friends, but she keeps telling him that they can ONLY ever be friends She isn t allowed to date, and that s all they will ever be But they are both 18, and he doesn t understand why parents wouldn t let an 18 year old senior date It finally comes out that Sage is transgender A boy dressing like a girl, taking hormones to look like a girl From the moment he finds out the truth, I couldn t put the book down It is exciting, heartbreaking, and gut wrenching at times At the end it said the author interviewed transgendered people to make the book believable It was an eye opener of a book for me My heart has always gone out to people who are different, but I feel really ashamed now of all of the giggling I ve done about a man I know who used to be a woman I used to think it was so funny Not so much Stuff like this is why I like to say I m a work in progress No matter how enlightened I think I am, I m constantly meeting or learning about people who show me I m really not. ETA, four years later this book still makes me angry and upset, so because it won the Stonewall And I find that I never, ever, ever want to recommend it ton anyone Ok Mixed feelings on this one I don t think this has ever been done before The plot was new, powerful, and very compelling to read unfortunately also made me feel sick As a queer reader, the tension between identifying with Logan fairly likeable, pretty well developed, sheltered, first person narrator and identifying with Sage spoiler she s trans was seriously enough to give me a stomachache, literally I had a really strong reaction to this, especially to Logan s disgusted, horrified responses to Sage Intense I assume this will be the case for many readers it says right on the flap what s going to happen, so I feel like it s than likely that a queer reader will pick it up expecting something less jarring I agree with reviewers who suggest exercising caution before handing this one to a trans teen, especially a trans girl or one who is beginning their transition or feeling vulnerable NAY The writing was kind of awful, and got worse as the book went on I kept getting pulled out of the story by how bad the writing was and I m not picky with prose Clunky, tedious, and ultimately a slog in terms of writing But the plot and the characters overcame those flaws with moments of acute tension at points, this was a real page turner HUH I really found myself wanting to know about the author Why did he write this, and write it this way Cause Julie Anne Peters he isn t Apparently it was an idea he had, a fictional germ of a story not based on or inspired by anyone in particular He did do a lot of interviews, apparently Interesting Not enough to convince me it was a good idea for him to write. THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS Hmmm 2.5 stars This is the story of how straight, male, small town Logan falls for new girl Sage, then shuns her when he finds out she was born a boy, then slowly patches up their friendship and eventually their romance Pros Boyer I haven t grown up or lived in a small town, but I ve always wondered how people get stuck, both physically and in their intolerant mindsets, and I feel like the description of Boyer was dead on I was pretty much picturing Dillon, Texas, from Friday Night Lights Logan s voice so straight and male I didn t like it at first, but from what I know about guys, this is quite often how they think No overthinking, nothing flowery, just the facts And quite funny at times.Cons Jacket blurb Gives away that Sage is a boy Logan doesn t find out till p 99 That s a long time to read his comments about her height and broad shoulders It makes him sound really dense and is frustrating as the in the know reader.Sage s parents Really I understand she was supposed to be misunderstood and a cause for shame in her parents eyes, but that could have been portrayed in a much multi dimensional way.Sage s hormones In contrast to I Am J, in which the plot centers around J s efforts to get the therapy required to start taking hormones, this book doesn t even mention them until Logan sees Sage in a bathing suit and his head almost explodes Yes, she has large, attractive boobs, and Logan can t let it go until Sage finally admits, in a conversation that takes up all of two pages, I order hormones from Mexico She conveniently has an account with her name on it and her parents, in spite of keeping her so physically and emotionally isolated that it borders on abuse, know about this and let her order drugs illegally through the mail What the what Are these the same parents This flippantly treated turning point really bugged me It seemed like a plot device designed to avoid the questions a real transgender teen would have about hormones, legality, payment, therapy, age, effects, etc., and instead make it easy for Sage to conveniently have a female body that Logan could find hot so their relationship could get physical But again with the being true to how most guys think, perhaps This, than anything else, is why I might give this to a straight guy reader, but not a transgender teen And what does that say As a caveat, in the Author s Note, Katcher does say that he interviewed real life Sages and that no one should endanger themselves by taking illegally obtained hormones Favorite quotes I felt a bizarre mixture of friendship, lust, fear, pity, lust, confusion, panic, and lust I could visit her, but she lived under someone else s strict rules It didn t matter how much I cared for her she feared the warden than she liked me I d spent nearly two months thinking warm and fuzzy thoughts about Sage If I was going to hate her, it would take some work Shame never dies in a small town He probably hadn t meant anything by it When you re a teenage guy, you pepper your conversations with f ggot, butt munch, and douche bag In the strange world of male bonding, questioning someone s sexuality and hygiene was a way to demonstrate friendship and camaraderie gross There s a fine line between being hurt and being an a hole There was no way I could ever be relaxed around this person again To me, Sage would never be just Sage She d be Sage the boy who pretended to be a girl and who I kissed that one time No friendship could survive that many hyphens Brenda didn t feel comfortable swimming She was the only girl I ever knew whose bathing suit had sleeves. This was a fast read, but it was difficult Though it was realistic, it was hard to read all about the main character s process working through his transphobia, and the whole thing reeked of tragi trans Also, there were infuriating moments of racism thrown in I d say this isn t a book for trans teens, but may help non trans people empathize and somewhat better understand some of the dangers and emotional struggles facing mainstream trans people, and may illuminate and hopefully combat some of their own transphobia.It s hard for me to read YA books about trans folks they either are filled with stereotypes and or tragi trans despair, like Luna or this book, or they go the to the other extreme and seem unrealistically chipper, like Parrotfish At this point in YA publishing, it s still taking a risk as Katcher says in his acknowledgments to publish anything involving trans characters, so books seem to be admired for being out there at all But I m ready for complexity. This book was Almost Perfect pun intended It took me a while to get into this book I actually almost stopped reading it Logan just wasn t an appealing character he was sort of boring actually and I struggled with the novel as a result However, I can admit by the end of the novel Logan really grew on me, and the authenticity of his voice came shining though.The writing was, well I felt like someone decided to throw a few SAT words in there just for fun I hate when people use big words just for the sake of having them there, and that is what I felt was going on Luckily that died down by the second half That s probably just something that bothers me I don t mind when it flows nicely within the story but most of the time it just seems like they are sticking out like a sore thumb but like I said, it s probably just me.I guess the thing that finally captured my attention, well actually the person, was Sage I would have loved for this novel to be told in alternating chapters It was great seeing Logan evolve through the novel, and watching him deal with his beliefs and feelings, but I wanted to have that insight with Sage too Sage s character was gripping The second hand encounter of her experiences were upsetting her father s refusal of acceptance, her parent s denial, domestic violence maybe it was better her story was only seen through the eyes of Logan.This novel, than anything is heartbreaking Reading the last few pages of the book, where Katcher explains that much of the novel is based on his interviews and first hand experiences with transgender teens that have been though similar experiences was almost too much for me to handle The ending to the novel itself, isn t a happy one, but I think that both characters have a better sense of who they are.Overall a touching and emotional read I loved the message of this novel. Most of us, I suspect, have met somebody who would be just perfect, exceptI look back on some of my almost perfects, and I cringe at what a douchebag I was.Logan has just broken up with Brenda, and he s not optimistic about his prospects He s a senior in a tiny high school 50 seniors I went to a similar school my class was 44, and it was hard to date girls I d known since age nine.One day, Sage walks into biology homeroom Sage is tall, quirky, has a great laugh, and most of all, is from somewhere else Logan and Sage become friends Logan wants , but Sage tells him, in essence NO We will never kiss or date or be anything than friends This always works on teenaged boys, much the same as telling a Category 5 hurricane to stop blowing works Sage has a secret She s not a secret meth head, nor was she busted for prostitution She doesn t have any venereal diseases Nope Her penis is perfectly healthy.Yeah That s the secret From a very young age, Sage has gender identified as female She s been taking female hormones since age 14, and she has had to fight her dad every step of the way She was home schooled from the time she started living as a girl, and only her sister supported her.Logan did not take it well when he found out The novel is told from Logan s point of view, and I admired his honesty He s torn between loving Sage and not wanting to admit that Sage isn t all woman.While I was reading Almost Perfect, I was waiting, nay DREADING, to see which of the two easy melodramatic endings the author would choose the heartbroken suicide, or the I love you I don t care that we both have penises sort of holding a jambox outside Sage s house, as In Your Eyes blasts Cusakishly on repeat.Thankfully, author Brian Katcher deftly avoids using either I found myself pulling for Logan and Sage, but I remember what a moron I was at 18 The novel s ending wasn t satisfying, but this relationship s ending couldn t be satisfying In that way, it was pretty much perfect.I can t imagine being either Logan or Sage More importantly, perhaps, I can t imagine how difficult it must have been writing a novel dealing with a boy meets boy who s transitioning to being girl love story, and keeping it safe for the YA market.Beautifully written book Recommended.
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Almost Perfect book, this is one of the most wanted Brian Katcher author readers around the world.
- 368 pages
- Almost Perfect
- Brian Katcher
- 09 May 2019 Brian Katcher