Rummanah Aasi
  Alex As Well is a thought provoking realistic fiction read from Australia. Teens looking for books that tackle the issue of identity confusion or even realistic fiction that are written with grace and sensitivity without the bad aftertaste of saccharine should pick up this book. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the advanced reader's copy of this book.

Description: Alex is ready for things to change, in a big way. Everyone seems to think she’s a boy, but for Alex the whole boy/girl thing isn’t as simple as either/or, and when she decides girl is closer to the truth, no one knows how to react, least of all her parents. Undeterred, Alex begins to create a new identity for herself: ditching one school, enrolling in another, and throwing out most of her clothes. But the other Alex—the boy Alex—has a lot to say about that. 

Review: Alex Stringfellow has lived her entire life feeling like she's two people, male and female. She is born with female and male reproductive organs. Her parents had chosen to not tell her this information and chose which gender that Alex should be without her consent. These hidden facts has made Alex's life miserable. Alex has always felt like an outsider, a "freak" that never belonged. Though previously identified as male, Alex takes a very courageous step to live her life openly, honestly, and decides to begin living as a female. 
  I loved the voice of Alex, which is alive, smart, and open in contrast to those of her close minded, narcissistic parents. Knowing that her parents can't and refuse to help her, she takes the assertive step in enrolling to a new school where she quickly makes friends. I was a little lost on how easily it was for Alex to attend school without the necessary paperwork and had to suspend my disbelief in order to roll with the story. While her adjustment is mostly smooth, Alex is concerned about how her friends will react if they find out she's a lesbian or if they find out about her "condition." Adding dimension to her voice and character, Alex has internal conversations with the male and female sides of herself which not only reflect on her confusion of her identity, but also highlights what society would deem as "normal." It is very easy to support and root for her. 
 Unlike her somewhat smooth transition at school, her life at home is intolerable and a hot mess. After telling her parents that she identifies herself as a girl, Alex's father leaves home and her mother struggles with Alex's gender identity and often handles it with fits, abuse, and attempts to control her child. Her absent father offers little support. While there are intersecting chapters of Alex's mom, Heather, blogging about her experiences with handling Alex that allows us to see Heather's emotions in context, I still needed a bit more proof of character development to make Heather a full three dimensional character. I would also have liked Alex's father to have more page time as well as he sort of pops in and out. Thankfully, Alex does find adults who do support her. 
  Alex As Well is a powerful story of courage, where our protagonist is not afraid to stand up for herself and find a support system that works for her. We definitely need more books like this one and I would recommend it to fans of good realistic fiction.  

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of caution: There is some language, a scene of bullying, and crude humor. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall, Pink by Lili Wilkinson,
6 Responses
  1. I remember reading a review for this at The Nocturnal Library. I think it sounds like an insightful and powerful read. I will have to try it sometime.


  2. Jenny Says:

    Her parents are going to make me rage-y, Rummanah. I already want to throttle them for making a difficult and confusing situation for Alex even worse by their lack of support for what she's experiencing, and I just find that unforgivable. I'm so glad she finds other people who do support her!


  3. I've always think that more fiction like this needs to be produced. I know I won't like those parents so I may have to try this one as a book so I can throw it safely-ish. LOL It does look like it ends on a positive note.


  4. Candace Says:

    This is definitely something I'm interested in reading. I think I'd struggle with the bit about her enrolling herself in a new school but hopefully I could roll with it like you did. I'll have to watch for this one.


  5. Aylee Says:

    Urgh those parents!! I mean, I'm sure those types of reactions are unfortunately entirely realistic in some parents dealing with that situation, but damn! I'm glad Alex has other people in her life to count on. And I'm really curious about this one now!


  6. This sounds like such an interesting read, Rummanah. The issues that you found problematic are probably ones that I'd have problems with too, but I like that this one tackles gender identity confusion in a realistic manner.


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