Thoughts on Brian Katcher’s “Almost Perfect”

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. . . Sage’s father, cruel as he was, only wanted his son back. Tammi just wanted a sister. I wanted a ‘normal’ girlfriend. And Sage — all she wanted was to be herself”

Almost Perfect, Brian Katcher

 

katcher almost perfectIn the past year, transgender issues have been front and center in the media. Whiles not all of them have been positives, such as the increase in transgender related murders, America is becoming a little more aware of the struggles that people who are trans face.

In 2009, author Brian Katcher had published a novel that talks about these struggles from the point of view of someone who never imagined himself to be in the situation he is dealt. Almost Perfect tells the story of Logan, a high school senior in Missouri who falls hopelessly in love with the new girl in school. Sage Hendricks is funny, cute, and an enigma to Logan, and he wants nothing more than to get to know her. Finally, he discovers the truth: biologically, Sage is male. Initially disgusted, Logan finally comes to terms with Sage’s trans identity and discovers more about a community he never imagined existed.

The most interesting aspect of the novel is choosing to have Logan be the POV that the narration is told through rather than Sage. With other trans novels such as Parrotfish or biographical TV shows like I am Jazz, the narration is told with the trans person being front and center as opposed to being a secondary character. Logan is described as being the typical American male teenager. He runs cross country, he lives in the Midwest, and most importantly he believes trans women to simply be men in drag who are psychologically unstable. A little over halfway into the novel, he finds himself in a pool with Sage, and seeing her in a bathing suit without a hairy chest and with breasts completely throws him off.

After that scene, Logan learns about hormone therapy. Sage gets her hormones through the black market, presenting another issue that Logan did not know about previously; that trans people, particularly underage people transitioning from male to female, have a hard time with the medical transition due to lack of support from their family. Sage’s father is vilified in the novel: he is a man who refuses to believe he is raising a daughter rather than a son. His own emotional abuse toward his daughter is criticized by Logan, even though toward the end he calms down a little.

By being Logan’s POV, the novel is a story of acceptance and overcoming your own prejudice due to a lack of education. It should be noted too how in the beginning everything was so innocent. Logan’s impression of Sage was that she was cute and had braces, two traits that are reflective of what teenagers notice when they have a crush on someone. As the novel progresses he flips between wanting Sage and not wanting her, flipping back and forth in what could only be seen as emotional turmoil to poor Sage. Toward the end, as Logan becomes more socially aware, he realizes the danger Sage is in, and more importantly how she needs to go somewhere where she can be safe, and that Missouri is not the place for her. Logan grows and, more importantly, Sage is able to grow.

Almost Perfect is available wherever books are sold. The novel is controversial, with a 3.87 rating (out of 5) on Goodreads.

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This is a guest post by Chelsea Mason-Basiliere
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Shawna prefers fantasy books for the most part, but will read pretty much any type of fiction with LGBT characters. She prefers books with great secondary characters as well as main characters. And, she is really tired of lesbian romance novels where one character is/was straight and/or married to a guy. Despite that, she recently enjoyed Clare Ashton’s That Certain Something.

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