I was not sure what to expect from this one. Having read through some of the reviews, I began to have buyer’s remorse shortly before reading it. I knew this would be a sensitive one for me to read, given the topic material and my own identity, but I also knew how important a topic this was. The synopsis pretty much sums the book up. I feel as though that alone affected my rating. There were not many surprises for the first half of reading, because I already knew that Sage was a transwoman, and I already knew that Logan would find out. I, also, knew that he would not take it well.
Many books that deal with the subject focus on the trans*person themselves. Addressing the issues we have to face such as dysphoria, societal stigma, coming out, and attempting to merge our old lives with our true identity. While Almost Perfect does address all of that (and more), the story is told from Logan’s point of view. This adds a new element to the story, addressing issues that are less spoken of – specifically dating, and the reason many of us who fall on the transgender spectrum are fearful of doing it.
Let me begin by stating, this book was an emotional roller coaster for me. Reading Logan’s initial reaction was hard, as it brought to mind many of my own fears. It reminded me why I refused to date for so long. It addressed the issue so believably, and so realistically, that it opened up old wounds that I didn’t know I had. As such, I cannot say I recommend this to transgender youth or young adults who are still in the grips of dysphoria. It was far from an easy read for me. Many pages triggered my dysphoria, many scenes made me shudder in a combination of both disgust and fear. Yet, I could not put the book down. The thing is that it was handled realistically. Logan’s initial reaction was realistic. His internal dialogue made me hate him at times, it made me feel like he was a jerk, but it was believable. There really are people out there who feel the way Logan did. While the book was hard for me to read, I do believe it could be eye opening for those outside the trans* spectrum.
What I enjoyed most about this book was that both Sage and Logan experienced a lot of growth, and it never once felt forced. I truly felt as though they were growing as characters. I felt as though Logan was learning, and realizing his feelings for Sage did not make him any less of a man, and that Sage’s body did not make her any less of a woman. Likewise, I felt as though Sage was experience a similar growth, but in a different way. Their relationship developed realistically, too. That never felt forced, and never felt fake or phoney. And best of all, Logan did not feel like the stereotypical male trope who got the girl despite doing nothing at all. The two worked really hard to maintain their friendship, and I could see that both of them were struggling. Sage especially.
There are a few problems I had with the book. Sage’s parents seemed underdeveloped, almost one dimensional. The problem with her dad was that I’ve seen that same dad in almost every LGBT book I’ve read that dealt with a gay son or a trans*girl. Why, for once, can’t the mother be the one who denies her child? (It happens) Which brings me to my next point, for a book that handles transgender issues, it sure is loaded to the brim with gender stereotypes. Some are forgivable, as the vast majority were Logan’s internal dialogue (and he seems to be the kind of guy who before Sage made assumptions based on someone’s parts), but every now and then some would slip outside of internal dialogue. When handling gender issues, I think it’s important to let go of such stereotypes. Transgender youth struggle with those enough, without them slipping into a book dealing with the topic. There were a few lines that struck me as a bit racist, too, but I won’t go too deeply into that. They did seem out of place in the book, however.
I enjoyed Sage’s character the most. Sage was not a stereotype of transgender women. She had a personality that was all her own. She was not the cliche that I usually see in books handling the subject. Sage actually felt unique. As Logan began crushing on her, I found myself crushing on her character. Sage was someone I would love to know. I would have been friends with Sage, if given the chance. One of the reviews I’ve read about this book said that while Logan is telling the story, this is truly Sage’s story. I don’t entirely agree, but I do feel this is both of their stories. Sage is just as important to the story as Logan is, and Sage is the more likable of the two. Throughout the entire book, I was rooting for both of them. I wanted so badly for things to work out between them that I could not put it down.
But of course, things did not work out for them. I kind of saw the attack coming, given some of the reviews I saw on the Goodreads description. The attack left me feeling shaken up, and horrified. As stated previously, this is not a good book for a trans* person still experiencing anxiety, depression, or dysphoria. After the attack, I figured things would not work out for Sage and Logan, but a part of me still hoped. Also, after the attack, the book started to go downhill. The end left me angry. I felt like Brian Katcher had punched me in the stomach. I read through the book, waiting for something, and I never got it. The end was anticlimactic, and inconclusive. Holy cliff hanger batman. I was so angry when I read the last page.
This book was a page turner in some spots, but it truly was an emotional experience for me. It brought to my mind many fears I haven’t thought about in a long time, some feelings I’ve tried to suppress, and realizations about my own identity. Still, many parts made me angry. It was hard reading Logan’s internal dialogue after Sage came out to him. It was harder learning to realize that he was a person with feelings, too. The fact that I did have to realize that, though, is what let me know this book needed to be written. It is an important subject, and it had to be written. I don’t know why Brian wrote it, but I am glad he did. Still, there are many imperfections that made me angry. The use of the word “transgendered” made me annoyed, the gender stereotypes seeping their way into secondary characters annoyed me, the ending ticked me off, and the writing was hard to deal with at times. In short, this book could have been so much better. I would even go as far as to say it was “almost perfect”.