Alex as Well

Alex as Well

Out in early 2015 is this fascinating young adult novel dealing with the issues of being transgender and intersex.

Alex appears to be a boy, but she’s determined that she should really be a girl. When she decides to go public, attending a different school while dressing as female, her family falls apart, revealing a secret that’s been kept from her her whole life.

As written by Alyssa Krugman, Alex as Well is told mostly in internal monologue, giving the reader a good impression of the 14-year-old Alex’s worries and feelings. The two Alexes speak to each other in their head, expressing the different pressures and reactions of the main character.

One caveat is that it’s not entirely clear at first that this is set in Australia. While teen culture is much the same all over, there are some specifics that may be confusing, particularly about the foster care system.

Alex as Well

There are also some strange elements relating to the mother, who in interspersed chapters goes to a parenting website to gain support for her (often poorly chosen) actions. I found those sections darkly funny, although it requires some knowledgeable reading to gather that it’s not being presented as admirable. It’s a good portrait of how the same elements can be interpreted in radically different fashion from different perspectives.

With the topic of gender dysphoria now seen more often in the news and elsewhere, it’s about time there’s a novel that explores the nature of identity as it relates to a teen just wanting to find her own place in the world. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)

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