Book Review: For Today I Am A Boy 9781443412643

Book Review: For Today I Am A Boy 9781443412643

This review, written by Sara Crabtree, also appears on Quebec City English bookstore site Livres Trois Canons. 

For Today I Am A Boy
Kim Fu
HarperCollins
ISBN: 9781443412643
Price: $19.99

Born the third of four children to Chinese immigrants, Peter “Juan Chaun” Huang is expected to fulfill his father’s dream of embracing the “western” life that drove him from China. From a very young age however, Peter fights the inner voice that speaks so loudly, “I am not a boy.”

Spanning decades, this novel follows Peter on his journey of foregoing his own desires and instincts to embrace the expectations set forth by his father. But as Peter makes a break from his family and moves to Montreal, he begins to lose the battle. Succumbing to the innermost secret whispers, Peter slowly transitions to the person he has always wanted to be.

While this book does a fine job of exploring the internal struggle the main character is dealing with, the part of the book that truly fascinated me is how Peter dealt with the pressures the outside world put on him. From the overzealous demands of his father, his sisters’ success and failures weighing heavily on his shoulders, ever increasing the amount of success that he, as the lone boy must bear, and the religious influence instructing him to deny self and embrace his gender roll according to the church’s standards, Peter is battered from all sides. His lone refuge, a small Montreal apartment where he explores and eventually embraces the idea of becoming a woman, is invaded time and again.

Kim Fu does an excellent job of expressing the convoluted emotional journey of this character. The harrowing and often sad account of Peter is one that leaves readers heartbroken over the lengths he will go through to suppress what is so natural to him to please his family and society. It also leaves you hopeful that he will eventually fine acceptance and peace within himself and his fractured family and world.

For me, this was an excellent read. I felt emotionally connected to this kid, turned adult from the very beginning of the novel. I was able to see the world from his perspective and delight in the joy he felt as he was finally a “sister” by the end of the novel. All in all, Kim Fu’s debut novel has a strong voice, a memorable cast of characters, and discusses a timely issue. This is most certainly an author to add to the “watch” list.

Review by Sara Crabtree

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