I meant to leave this one until December when I’m taking part in a Diversity December Bingo challenge, but since the US election results I decided that for the rest of the year I would only be reading books by marginalised authors, regardless of any challenges I’d already decided to take part in.
For Today I Am A Boy is probably one of the most incredible books I’ve read all year. Incorporating themes of how Asian immigrants are treated in English speaking countries, oppressive parents and trans issues, it tells the story of Peter Huang growing up in Canada as a child of Chinese parents. As narrator, we see Peter’s struggles growing up amongst three sisters and a father whose main desire was to have a son, with the knowledge that Peter, truly, is a woman.
It’s a short but heavy book; although it’s a coming of age story there’s a lot of references to quite horrific subjects. Things referred to include how a woman can rape, how violence against trans women is a very real danger, and how supportive parents can make all the difference to a young transperson’s life while a lack of support can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. We see Peter’s anger and revulsion at her body manifest in different ways, all of them heartbreaking.
Yet there’s a lot of optimism in the book as well. The love and ultimate acceptance Peter gets from her sisters, as well as the people later on in her story, is really heartwarming. I cried a little at the end.