Saturday, December 24, 2016

Look past by Eric Devine

Avery is devastated when his friend Mary Mathison first goes missing, and then is found dead in the woods, and can't help but want to be involved with the case.  His snooping gets him in trouble with his Uncle Tom who is a police officer involved in the case, and causes problems for his friend Charlie and his girlfriend Beth, but he can't help getting involved with the case - especially when he starts receiving threats by text that he will be next. 

As a transgender teen transitioning from female to male Avery already faces challenges everyday, but when he is told to repent and stop sinning he faces an impossible choice.  He can pretend that his identity doesn't matter, pretend to be the perfect girl he used to appear to be - or he can stay strong and fight against the person who has threatened his life and the lives of those around him.  It is an impossible choice, and as the killer leaves more taunting clues and threats Avery has to decide what truth is more important and if being right is the most important thing.

One of the things that attracted me to read Look past was the fact that the book was about someone who was transgender and transitioning as a teenager - but most of the time I forgot that Avery was transgender at all.  That may seem strange when Avery being transgender, and the challenges he has faced are so central to the story and the events that unfold in the story, but the most important part of the story to me was the well written and well thought out plot and what happens. 

In many ways Avery is a completely normal teenager facing the challenges of discovering a sense of self and wanting other people to see him for who he is - something that teenagers all over the world experience to varying degrees depending on where they live and what their society is like.  At times the inner turmoil Avery was facing was like a living thing, and I know that reading this as an adult definitely added a different perspective - being different is hard for any teen, and in such a small town with highly religious/conservative people is something that leaps off the page on more than one occasion.  Without downplaying the challenges faced by transgender teens, this is a story of struggling to find yourself that any teen can relate too.

Too often I have given up on reading books with transgender teens and children, not because I don't want to read their stories, but rather because the author has chosen to make a soap box on the backs of young people who don't deserve to have their voices turned into a cliché to make money for an author who wants to jump on the latest publishing trend.  I found Avery to be a very believable character and I developed a real feeling of empathy very early on in the story - you can't help but feel a connection to this character and his world.  Hopefully more authors exploring this emerging publishing trend will take the time to craft a world where their characters just happen to be transgender - rather than building a whole story around a person being transgender. 

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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