I read through ‘Breaking Free’ really fast which is a good sign because I enjoyed it a lot. It’s a YA book about Raimi, a trans girl who starts over in a new school in a new state after being homeschooled and transitioning into the body of the person she was always meant to be. As if that’s not enough, she is also a lesbian and falls for the head cheerleader who is being blackmailed into a relationship with a football jock. Whew. That’s the mini summary which sounds like A LOT actually but don’t worry.
Naturally, Raimi is very reluctant about revealing that she was born into the body of a boy to anyone, not even Clare, whom she falls in love with. I get that, there probably never is a good time to tell someone that even if it shouldn’t mean that much but we are all just human. While I understand how terrible it must be, being trapped in the wrong body and I fully support everyone’s decision to follow their own heart, I also know that it would throw me off if my girlfriend would tell me she is trans. It is a lot to take in at first. That is just to say I understand why she is reluctant to reveal this information about herself.
Raimi isn’t the only one keeping secrets though, so are both Clare and Brad and while I didn’t guess Clare’s revelation, Brad’s was pretty obvious from where I was standing.
Breaking Free is mostly written in first person narrative, which always throws me off a bit, I can’t quite explain why since I write this blog in the same way. Just when I pick up a book, I don’t always expect it, not that it isn’t a legit choice. And it works for this story.
Raimi is still lucky, she has a hugely supportive mother, rich parents and well, an alcoholic father but in comparison to Eleanor & Park, her family is pooping rainbows. Towards the end, when Brad outs her to the entire school (btw, never out someone, that really isn’t cool at all!!), we see how violent and terrible the reactions of her peers are. I mean, they were bad when she and Clare came out but revealing you’re trans is something else entirely which also makes me really sad for our society.
Like I said up top, I enjoyed this story. Sure, it is a bit heavy handed at times. For example, the alcoholic father wasn’t necessary. He didn’t add much to the story in my opinion and Brad’s revelation at the end, well, it was obvious but also maybe a bit too stereotypical?! I’m not sure. Taking all of this into consideration I was shocked to see Breaking Free was written by a freshman in High School. Umm. Yeah. Like, whoa. I remember the crap I wrote in high school and none of that is worth publishing so kudos to you, Winter Page. Keep on writing because I’m very interested to see what will become of you with more experience both in writing itself and life in general.
I am beyond happy though, that this kind of book exists because there are people like Raimi out there, and Clare and Brad and they all deserve to have their stories told. I’m not sure how the market for YA books about trans teenagers looks but judging from what I see when I browse the Netgalley Gay&Lesbian section, there probably isn’t that much. And while I don’t mind at all to read all the great heterosexual teen books out there by all the amazing authors, it makes my heart sing to find one with my people as protagonists. So keep these books coming, publishers!