Book Reviews

Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite by Lianne Simon at Faie Miss Press

Genre Intersex / Contemporary / Young Adult / Fiction
Reviewed by Sally on 22-August-2012

Book Blurb

Jamie was born with a testis, an ovary, and a pixie face. He can be a boy after minor surgery and a few years on testosterone. That’s what his parents always say, but he sees an elfin princess in the mirror. To become the man his parents expect, Jamie must leave behind a little girl’s dreams.

At sixteen, the four-foot-eleven soprano leaves home school for a boys’ dorm at college. The elfin princess can live in the books Jameson reads and nobody has to find out he isn’t like the other boys.

When a medical student tells Jamie he should have been raised female, he discovers the life he could have as a girl. The elfin princess can thrive, but will she risk losing her family and her education for a boyfriend who may desert her, or a toddler she may never be allowed to adopt?


Book Review

From its deliberately provocative title to its unusual narrative style, heavy layering of religious themes, and reliance upon deception and coincidence, Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite is a rather nostalgic read, full of old-fashioned values and progressive ideals.

 

Jamie is an absolutely wonderful character, the kind of young woman you feel the need to protect, embrace, and support. While she does come across a little too perfect (not to mention blissfully innocent) for a college student who should be revelling in her first taste of freedom, she absolutely compels the reader’s sympathy. Her narrative leaps between genders can be quite jarring, particularly the first few times she converses with the mirror, but they create a fairy-tale kind of magic that is undeniably attractive.

 

The two men in her life – Tyler and Sean – are kindred spirits, spiritual, wholesome, and able to see beyond the façade her family keep reinforcing from afar. One exits her life far too soon, becoming a phantom lifeline to which her dreams of femininity can cling, while the other carefully and quietly slides into the emotional void left behind. Like Jamie, both are a bit too good to be true, but Sean is given the time and space to develop as a well-rounded friend and lover. His transition from acquaintance, to friend, to romantic partner is quite delightful to follow.

 

Whereas the boys are content to love and support Jamie, the girls in her life seem to take it upon themselves to force their help upon her, often in rather deceptive ways. Lisa and Sharon are women for whom the end justifies the means, well-meaning friends who are convinced they know what’s right for Jamie. Lisa is the kind of sweet, free-spirited best friend any girl wishes she could have at her side. She consistently puts Jamie into difficult situations, but always allows her the freedom to make her own decisions. Sharon, on the other hand, is more like a big sister. Somewhat colder, and more emotionally distant, she deliberately manipulates Jamie into confronting her situation time and time again.

 

Spiritual themes and manipulative friends aside, the book does a superb job of exploring the variety of intersex conditions, the challenges they represent, and the different ways in which people come to deal with their situations. The writing is strong, the characters are likeable, and with a love story to carry the reader through, everything comes together nicely in the end.

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the author for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format paperback
Length Novel, 234 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 18-September-2012
Price $5.95 ebook, $9.28 paperback
Buy Link http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Teenage-Hermaphrodite-Lianne-Simon/dp/0985148209/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF