The Trans-fer Student, Elise Himes
Genre: YA, LGBT (T)
Length: 255 pages
Purchase At: amazon.com
***WARNING: This book contains depictions of physical and emotional bullying as well as suicide. If you feel these issues are not for you please take it into consideration before reading this book.***
“Why can’t you be normal?”
The question above has probably been asked by a parent, a friend or any other person close to those in the LGBT community. It could have been in anger, in jest or concern; however, it is a question that happens, no matter what.
In this case it’s anger from Rachel’s brother. Rachel and her family have just moved to Kentucky from Texas, hence ‘destroying’ her brother’s life, because of despicable bullying from students and teachers alike at her previous school. Why? At that school Rachel was actually Bryan, the boy she was born as. Rachel has known from a young age that she’s actually a girl but it took multiple instances to convince her mother that something had to be done about it.
With a fresh start now happening, Rachel is attending the prestigious Hamilton Girl’s Academy, and she thinks her life is going to be bright and lovely from here on out. Suddenly this is shattered when a school official outs that one of the students is actually transgender. Whist not naming her directly Rachel is under suspicion, as she’s new.
In scenes reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials, and the play ‘The Crucible’, the school descends into bickering and settling of petty differences, as conservative elements within the school lead a witch hunt to find the student who is different.
Great, Interesting Story
When I picked up this book I did not expect that I would finish it in one sitting, but I did. The story was interesting, well paced and kept me hooked from beginning to end. The shock and awe of Rachel finally being able to fully immerse herself in the world of teenage girls was wonderful to read. The competing fears that she has of being rejected by those in her life is well balanced, creating an intriguing story.
The witch hunt that occurs within this prestigious school is full of betrayals, accusations, fears and, unfortunately, death. Like the personal tale of Rachel this interesting saga is why The Trans-fer Student received it’s high rating.
Good Depiction of Tricky Issues
Suicide and bullying are tricky issues, of which I have seen presented in YA books both poorly and also incredibly well; The Trans-fer Student falls in the latter. I cannot stand when books put a frilly coat over what are dark and realistic issues. Luckily this book treats them as something that needs to be brought to peoples attention, due to the suffering they cause.
The Not So Great
I didn’t enjoy the way in which the witch hunt was sparked. The school official in charge of briefing the students on LGBT issues should not have told them that there was a transgender student among them, for seemingly no practical reason on his part. A professional dealing with this issue should not, and would not, make that mistake, as such an outing would have horrible consequences for the students it effects.
Whether this was accidental or deliberate I cannot tell (it’s not clear in the story), but either way I definitely didn’t like the way such an unlikely scenario sparked the bulk of the story.
Initially I read this as a PDF copy provided by the author, and later cross-referenced it with a MOBI copy I purchased. In both editions there are glaring editing errors, which should have been addressed before being released. These errors ranged from using the incorrect gender describing a male character, to having the name of an antagonist used instead of the victims in an eulogy.
These errors are few and far between, but when they are there they’re major, and really should have been identified and corrected.
** Please note: The author has contacted Greedy Bug and has advised me that the book has been revised and the editing issues rectified. Which is terrific news. If I get a chance I will reread it and update the review accordingly**
Despite it’s minor flaws I really enjoyed The Trans-fer Student, and I see it as a good debut release for the author Elise Himes. The tale told captures the brutal world transgender people may have to endure, but, in the end, shows how support from those closest to you can help you finally be yourself.
“Taking that first step was not bringing me closer to a casket, but to being true to myself.”
A copy of this book was originally provided by the author in return for an honest review. However, a private copy was sourced.
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