For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu

 

Kim Fu handles the transgender perspective in For Today I Am a Boy with the utmost care. This is not a radical, explosive book meant to shock its audience. Instead, it centers on Peter’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences as he tells us about his childhood, his loved ones, and his coming of age, in his own voice. There are a number of subtle but powerful moments that made me forget this is a work of fiction; much of the time it reads like a memoir.

Fu attains the perfect balance between creating interesting, complex characters without turning them into clichés. Especially when it comes to Peter, this maintains the story’s reliability.

Who were these kids? What right had they to be born into a world where they were taught to look endlessly into themselves . . . To ask themselves, and not be told, whether they were boys or girls? You eat what’s there or you starve.

I was glad that Peter, with all the turmoil he faced, did have a few people in his life who completely accepted him without question, who didn’t try to change him. I’m not sure how realistic that is for most transgender people, but it certainly added an element of hope throughout the story.

Approached with sensitivity and free of stereotypes, For Today I Am a Boy explores how who we are (and the discovery of who we are) plays into our sense of self, the path we take in life, and our family dynamics. This is a coming of age story well worth reading.