Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Almost Perfect* * * *

You only hurt the ones you love.

Logan Witherspoon recently discovered that his girlfriend of three years cheated on him. But things start to look up when a new student breezes through the halls of his small-town high school. Sage Hendricks befriends Logan at a time when he no longer trusts or believes in people. Sage has been homeschooled for a number of years and her parents have forbidden her to date anyone, but she won’t tell Logan why. One day, Logan acts on his growing feelings for Sage. Moments later, he wishes he never had. Sage finally discloses her big secret: she’s actually a boy. Enraged, frightened, and feeling betrayed, Logan lashes out at Sage and disowns her. But once Logan comes to terms with what happened, he reaches out to Sage in an attempt to understand her situation. But Logan has no idea how rocky the road back to friendship will be.


It’s been months and Logan is still nursing a broken heart thanks to his 3 year girlfriend that cheated on him.  That is until Sage walks into his first hour Biology class.  Logan and Sage immediately hit it off.  Their mutual attraction is unmistakable; which makes it all the more confusing when Sage continuously fends off Logan’s quiet advances.  Then on New Year’s Day they unexpectedly share their first kiss. Sage is forced to share her secret…the fact that she was born a boy.  Logan is disgusted and runs away.  But their connection is too strong for him to stay away.  Before long they renew their friendship which sends them both on an emotional ride that neither of them are prepared for.

This story is a great lesson in showing us how it’s never easy to read from the POV of a character that hurts someone.  It’s even more difficult when that character is confused and hurting as well.  The entire story is told in the first person from Logan’s POV.  Be prepared for an uncomfortably honest portrayal of a straight young man raised in a small rural town.  A teenage boy whose experiences are too narrow and whose insecurities are too deep to give the total acceptance and celebration that Sage needs.  Logan messes up spectacularly.  Multiple times.  His desire to be friends with Sage makes her feel like she can be accepted for the girl that she truly his.   But the discomfort he feels in his attraction to Sage and his subsequent selfish and cruel actions make Sage truly comprehend the giant hurdles she has ahead of her and makes her wonder if she can even face them.

The only complaint I had with this novel was that Sage’s voice was rather wooden.  When I SAW her through Logan’s eyes, I saw a young vibrant woman full of fear and hope.  But when I heard her speak, it felt as if the author didn’t (or maybe couldn’t) fully encompass the voice of Sage.  I can understand this dilemma though.   Five years after this book was published and we are still fighting to hear the voices of transgender men and women.  I can only imagine how difficult it would be to portray their voice.   In the end, though, that did not stop Sage from being a completely beautiful and engaging character.

It also didn’t diminish the power of the message contained in this story.  That our actions have the power to both negatively and positively impact those around us. We can use the power of our actions to show acceptance and celebrate the diversity around us.  To give others the freedom to be who they are without fear.


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