Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: For Today I Am A Boy by Kim Fu

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Title: For Today I Am A Boy

Author: Kim Fu 

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, LGBT, Young Adult 

Format/Length: ebook, 261 pages

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2014, Mariner Books; 2015


My Rating: ★★★★







For Today I Am A Boy is the story of Peter Huang, the third of four children. Peter is the long awaited son of a mild, if distant, mother and an intimidating father. Peter adores his three sisters. But he envies their certain freedom, while also enjoying the happiness he feels when they’re together. Peter knows they understand the thing he is not ready to say out loud.



This is the story of a life of confusion, loneliness, pain, understanding, and acceptance. This is also the story of the debilitating weight of secrets, expectations and pressure, that of family and society. This is story of Peter told in his subtle and powerful voice.


Peter takes the reader through snapshots of his life; from his childhood in a small unglamorous town in Ontario to Montreal. Peter has always known that he did not belong with the body in which he was born. He doesn’t like this body, he admires others’ and secretly dreams of having the same. Even knowing all that, Peter has never said any of this out loud, he has learned to live in secret. He believes he’s alone in this feelings and has never known anyone who felt the same.


Despite this Peter takes comfort that there are some people in his life who somehow understands even half of the truth. From his sisters; Adele, Helen, and Bonnie, to his childhood friend Ollie.


Eventually Peter moves away from his parents to the busier and livelier Montreal. But what should have been an adventure, a path to a happy life, only made Peter more isolated. Although he is far from the control of his parents, he feels the same pressures they have always instilled, and has in fact resigned himself to fulfilling their dreams someday even if the idea alone makes him unhappy. Being away and having very little contact with the few positive connections he did have contributed to this loneliness.


This loneliness and pain is palpable in the first person narration. In Peter’s voice, the reader can feel/see his doubts about himself, his revulsion for that body. Similarly, the small moments of joy and peace he feels when he does something in secret, or hides something under his clothes is clear and made more powerful in this voice.

Things I enjoyed about this book also include Kim Fu’s writing. There is something seemingly effortless about her writing of this story. I was not bored and I did not find any part of this book tedious. I looked forward to page after page. Even the back and forth, snapshot way of presenting the events was enjoyable.


I also liked the characterization of Peter’s sisters. Adele, Helen, and Bonnie were quite different from one another. They were definitely their own person. They were also their own person when it comes to Peter. Though they all understood him, each one had a distinct relationship.


In the end, I wanted more of this book. I would have happily read another fifty pages, or as long as it took to dig deeper into the story. To bring more of Peter to life. To further relationships between Peter and the sisters, between Peter and anyone else. I was disappointed to see that I had reached the end and there was still a lot not touched on, explored.


I wanted to know about Peter and the future. I want to see the rest of the journey. Admittedly, it would a long journey because there’s so much for Peter to work out, but I wanted to see it. I adored Peter. I cheered for any moment of joy and I was sad for him when he was alone.


Honestly, I’ve read more pages of stories with characters I didn’t even like. So of course I’d want more out of book featuring a character I cherish.


That ending was abrupt and lacking.


P.S. The novel's title was taken from the following song. 


For Today I Am A Boy 
By Antony Hegarty 
Performed by Antony and The Johnsons

One day I'll grow up, I'll be a beautiful woman.

One day I'll grow up, I'll be a beautiful girl.
One day I'll grow up, I'll be a beautiful woman.
One day I'll grow up, I'll be a beautiful girl.

But for today I am a child, for today I am a boy.
For today I am a child, for today I am a boy.
For today I am a child, for today I am a boy.

One day I'll grow up, I'll feel the power in me.
One day I'll grow up, of this I'm sure.
One day I'll grow up, I know whom within me.
One day I'll grow up, feel it full and pure.

But for today I am a child, for today I am a boy.
For today I am a child, for today I am a boy.
For today I am a child, for today I am a boy.

For today I am a child, for today I am a boy.
For today I am a child, for today I am a boy.
For today I am a child, for today I am a boy.
For today I am a child, for today I am a boy

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