detransition, baby by torrey peters: a review.

detransition, baby by torrey peters: a review.

All right, let’s get into it.

I timed my reading of Detransition, Baby so that it would be during Pride Month and it was a great intersectional conclusion to the books I read (Punch Me Up to the Gods and This Is How You Lose the Time War were the others, btw. HMU for all your LGBTQ+ lit needs).

Detransition, Baby was nominated for the 2021 UK Women’s Prize for Fiction, which was the factor that finally got me to officially decide to read it. Typically, character-driven novels that revolve around parenthood and otherwise domestic issues just don’t do it for me, but I’d heard so many good things that I had to give it a shot. It was totally worth it.

To give a succinct and most likely terrible synopsis, the novel revolves around Reese, a trans woman, Katrina, a cisgender woman, and Ames, a recently de-transitioned cisgender male who connects the two women’s lives. Ames and Reese used to date (when Ames was still Amy), but since have broken up and are on bad terms by the time the events of the novel start. When Ames gets Katrina (who is also his boss) pregnant, the burden and opportunity of parenthood opens the door to an unusual partnership. Readers follow the three characters as they begin to explore what raising a child might look like if all three of them did it together. We are treated to both Ames’ and Reese’s perspectives throughout the book, and get to explore both individuals’ history with motherhood, womanhood, and learning all that comes with being a transgender (and previously transgender) person.

Let me just preface this by saying that this book doesn’t pull any punches. This isn’t some flowery, idealistic novel about three unique people who Put Aside Their Differences and Work Together to Build a Family. Peters doesn’t shy away from putting the complexities of gender and sexuality out on a plate and just leaving it there – never moralizing one way or the other, but leaving the reader to explore how we react to the ideas.

While both Ames’ and Reese’s perspectives are fascinating, I was really drawn to Reese and her incredibly complicated relationship with the idea of being a mother. As someone who practically gets hives at the mere idea of pregnancy, it was stirring to hear about Reese’s deep maternal urges. Peters describing how little being a “trans mother” (that is, a mother figure to another trans woman) was satisfying that call to be a “true” mother was striking. It’s also, I’m sure, deeply relatable for many women. I loved the way her relationship with Katrina evolved, too. It was written so realistically – I’m not sure how I would feel about participating in such a hare-brained parenting plan myself at first – but the characters remained open and learned so much from each other’s pain. (Something we could all do once in a while.)

Long story short: I’m super grateful to have given this book a shot! It definitely falls within the top 5 novels I’ve read in 2021.

One of the reasons I feel it’s so important to read books from a variety of perspectives is to remind ourselves that the marginalized experience is not a monolith – not only between minority communities, but also within them. This helps me to develop empathy for others, but it also reminds me that I need to keep growing. There are so many stories to hear and a lot are already out there! It’s just up to us to seek them out.

4.75/5 stars

mid-year freak out book tag: 2021

mid-year freak out book tag: 2021

All right, I know – it’s mid-July, so I’m a little late to this book tag! But given that this is my first real piece of content in the PCC (Pink Cast Club…keep up), I felt that it would be a fun introduction to what I read to do a quick recap of this year’s reads so far.

I set my 2021 Goodreads challenge to 40 books, and as of today, I’m 70% of the way to my goal! I’ve read some great books so far, as well as some that I was highly anticipating, but let me down. If any of you have read these, I’m excited to hear your opinions as well.

Full credit to Ely & Chami, the original co-creators of this tag.

General stats:

  • Books read: 28
  • Pages read: 8,836
  • 89% fiction
  • Top genre: fantasy (29%)
  • Average rating: 3.87 / 5

the best book you’ve read so far

Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir by Brian Broome

This is one of my more recent reads, but even now I know I’m going to end up re-reading it before the end of 2021. Punch Me Up to the Gods is Broome’s debut, and I can’t wait to see what else he writes! If you want to learn a lot about the intersections of masculinity, blackness, and queerness, or just want to read a super-unique and touching memoir, this one’s for you. Easiest 5-star read of the year so far.

the best sequel you’ve read so far

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Moon Over Soho wins this category by default, since somehow it’s the only sequel I’ve finished reading in 2021 so far. It was actually a solid 3-star read, so if I’d read another sequel, I might not be mentioning this one. But this gives me a great excuse to promote the Rivers of London series! If you’re into police procedurals, London architectural history or really insane supernatural hijinks, give these books a try.

a new release you haven’t read yet, but want to

A Touch of Jen by Beth Morgan

I’m kind of cheating for this one, since this book doesn’t actually come out until tomorrow, July 13. The blurb describes it as a “millennial social comedy” AND “psychedelic horror” and seems like it has the right touch of absurdist social commentary that I tend to be really into. I’m on a new book-buying hiatus right now sooo let me know if you want to order this for me. I’ll Venmo you.

your most anticipated release for the rest of the year

Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

THIS ONE, y’all. I added this to my “want to read” shelf on Goodreads in January, and I feel like I check every month to see if it’s out yet. Nightbitch is another debut novel, so I don’t know what to expect from a writing standpoint, but I literally don’t even care. The premise is so wild – a mother thinks she may be turning into a dog, and seeks help from a self-help/MLM group – that I’m buying this regardless. Forget what I said about that hiatus thing, my credit card is ready.

your biggest disappointment so far

Outlawed by Anna North

Man, I really wanted to like this one. It was billed to be a fun queer feminist take on a Western, and it was…some of that. It just massively underdelivered plot-wise (not to mention that the author completely forgot about a character…iykyk) and was pretty trite by the end. When I read the last paragraph, I was torn between whether I needed another 100 pages to fix the hasty way it was wrapped up, or whether I just wanted it to be done. This is a 2.5/light 3-star read for me.

your biggest surprise so far

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I read this book while participating in the Late Night Book Club, so I felt some level of obligation to finish it. Shadow is the longest book I’ve read so far this year (487 pages), and it felt like it since it gets a little slow in the middle. It took me almost the entire month of April to finish, but it ended up being 100% worth it. The way this novel ends and the way Zafón ties all the characters’ lives together…!!! Just read it. It’s beautiful. For: anyone in the mood for an atmospheric, romantic, Gothic mystery that transports you to early 20th-century Spain. But you might want to clear your schedule.

your favorite new author (debut/new to you)

Nick Greene, author of How to Watch Basketball Like a Genius

I really love basketball (something that I hope to write a little bit about on here in the “not books” section). Something I love even more than basketball is effective, humorous non-fiction. Nick Greene is a sports reporter who already writes about basketball on many platforms, but I so hope that he writes another book. In his debut, he connected so many different fields of study to the game of basketball in a fascinating, relatable and funny way. Even if you don’t know much about basketball, you will 100% still enjoy How to Watch Basketball Like a Genius.

Bucks in six.

your newest fictional crush

Dominic from The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

In my first 5-star romance since I read The Hating Game in 2020, I learned a lot about fun stuff like working in radio and the Pacific Northwest. The Ex Talk also has a lot to say about grief and anxiety, the weird stuff each emotion makes you do, and the type of person you need by your side to help you through it. The relationship between Dominic and main character Shay is technically enemies to lovers, but I appreciated the bond that the two shared in between those two endpoints. And how could you not love Dominic – funny, confident, loves his family…and, of course, his Master’s degree from Northwestern. This is such a fun one with a great ending!

your newest favorite character

Klara from Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

This was such a hard one. I’ve been lucky to have found a lot of great characters so far in 2021, but Klara stuck out to me. If you haven’t yet read Klara and the Sun, our main character is an AF, or Artificial Friend – basically a robot who acts as a child’s companion. In a future not too far from our present, Klara slowly learns about the complexities of human nature and what love really entails, and we get to see our irregularities and faults smoothed into patterns through her eyes. Klara is like a blank slate, and I found it fascinating to see our most basic traits re-analyzed through that character. Ishiguro isn’t for everyone (there are definitely mixed reviews on this book) but I absolutely loved this story.

a book that made you cry

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.

YOU GUYS. If you’ve read The Prophets, this requires no explanation. This book came out in January and I bought it immediately. I sat in my bed and bawled my way through the last few chapters. The Prophets is a love story between Isaiah and Samuel, two slaves on a South Carolina plantation, but it’s not just that. Jones introduces us to all the players involved – the masters and the slaves – and shows us their thoughts and desires. He connects us (yes, US, the reader) with our ancestors. He gives a voice to everyone and pulls absolutely no punches. There’s no way I can do this book justice in this little paragraph, so just do yourself a favor and read it. Expeditiously. With a box of Kleenex nearby.

a book that made you happy

The Black Veins by Ashia Monet

On the other side of things, this book was such a joy to read! First of all, I’m happy to have read a lot of LGBTQ+ authors and characters this year so far, and this one is no exception. The Black Veins is YA adventure novel goodness, with magic and friendship and an epic road trip. Yet another debut novel, and a pretty solid 4-star read for me! If you find yourself needing some escapism (and you do), this will do it for ya.

the most beautiful book

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

I already know what you’re about to say: “How are we supposed to tell that this cover is beautiful if we can’t see the full cover?” It’s called Google. But in all seriousness, this is one of my favorite covers of the year so far (but shoutout to The Portrait of A Mirror and the spine of Survive the Night as runners-up). You’ll see more of it soon, too: I actually just finished this book and am planning to post a review!

…and the books that you need to read by the end of 2021

Uhhh. Well. If you know me, you know there’s a reason why I’m on that new book-buying hiatus I mentioned. I am hereby guilty of hoarding so many books that I’ve owned for years and still haven’t read/finished. My TBR is numbered so that I can force myself to read as many books that I already own as possible without always feeling the need to buy more. So the answer to this prompt is: the ones that I currently own. But luckily, I have so many great books, old and new, fiction and non-fiction, from all genres, to get through, so I’ll never get bored…in theory.

I’m excited to spend the rest of 2021 in the PCC! I hope to share more recommendations, reviews and utter nonsense as 2021 rolls on. Let me know what you’ve loved reading so far this year!

-mo

welcome to the pink cast club.

welcome to the pink cast club.

Let’s set the scene:

August 2003. Sitting in the armpit of a humid Mid-Atlantic summer. About to start the third grade. Not a care in the world.

Except one.

An unfortunate swing accident meant that instead of sipping apple juice in the backyard, I was being rushed to the hospital with a slightly misshapen left arm. Sitting in the back of my parents’ mini-van, I burst into tears.

“Does it hurt?” asked my mom.

“No,” I sobbed.

“What’s wrong?”

Iwobeaytoweeee!

“…What?”

I took a deep breath. “I won’t be able to read!”

A beat passed. Then:

“Are you right-handed or left-handed?” my mom asked.

“Right-handed,” I replied.

“And what arm is broken?”

“…My left,” I sniffed.

“So you’ll be fine,” she said.

And I was. If I could hold a book in my right hand, I would be fine.

For better or worse, that’s stuck with me since then. I no longer have a hot pink full-arm cast to worry about, but almost twenty years later, I still self-soothe with a cold drink and a good book. And my goal is to never let anything – not even a broken arm – get in the way of pursuing the things I enjoy.

If that resonates with you, welcome to the Pink Cast Club! I’ll be sharing thoughts on the books I read (and some other interests) that are too long for Instagram and too interesting for Facebook. I hope you can come away with some good book recommendations, and I can’t wait to get some from you, too.

Let me know if you come up with a good secret handshake – I’m still workshopping ideas. Every good club needs one.