Sep 19, 2013

Review: Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Title: Freakboy
Author: Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Publication Date: 10.22.2013
Pages: 448
Genre: Contemporary, Poetry
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: C

Summary (from Goodreads):
From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?

In razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons.

Review:
Maybe this was my fault. Maybe I should have taken it literally when the synopsis said “in razor-sharp verse” because I was not expecting a book of poetry. Not that I have any issues with poetry—far from it. I love the symbolism and stilted, lyrical way of working through a poem. But an entire book written in poetry? Not even the explosive content Kristin Elizabeth Clark was exploring in Freakboy could make this work.

My first issue (other than the poetry) was that there are three dueling perspectives in this book and while I can see the validity of each one, Brendan’s in the one that matters most. This book is his transformation—his journey of self-discovery.  While it was a times nice to know what Vanessa and Angel were thinking, it was not vital to the story. I wanted more of Brendan.

Which brings me to why the poetry angle didn’t work. Part of the beauty of poetry is its simplicity. Its way of condensing pages of monologue and dialogue into a raw, emotional power punch of a single page or less. The problem I have it something with this type of subject matter needs the detail and intimacy of a novel. You need more than a page or two to full understand the extent of how Brendan is dealing and making decisions.  

I think I would have rather seen the poetry as a filler between chapters, not encompassing the entire novel. I cannot commend Clark enough for tackling such a delicate and controversial subject matter. Ten years ago there was nothing like this book on the market and I think these types of novels are essential to address. If this book helps one person, then it was well worth the effort put in by everyone.


Buy: Amazon

3 comments:

  1. I think a combo of too many perspectives and poetry would kill this book for me. I'm not a poetry fan to begin with...so I don't think I'll pick this one up. I like the cover, though!

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  2. I think we talked about this one when you finished it, and I feel pretty confident in saying this is not the book for me. I'm not a fan of poetry in general, I just get all tangled up in it and can't find my way out, so a book in verse is probably not something I should tackle. That cover is gorgeous though. Love it:)

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