Against her narcissistic parents' wishes, a teen with an intersex condition decides to start living as a girl.
When the story opens, Alex has been off the male hormones her parents make her take for five days. She has also told her parents that she wants to live as a girl, which has resulted in her father’s leaving and her mother’s becoming furious at what she believes to be meaningless and hostile teenage rebellion. Alex impulsively enrolls herself in a new school, a move that requires surprisingly little paperwork—with the thorny exception of a birth certificate. Alex meets friends for the first time as a girl, begins an unexpected modeling career and works with an unusually accommodating lawyer to correct the gender on her birth certificate. Alex's voice is bouncy, high-energy and strewn with well-chosen pop-song lyrics. Her first-person narrative voice is often shown in adversarial and sometimes-comic dialogue with a second, male Alex. Interspersed with Alex's narrative are her mother's increasingly unhinged and self-absorbed message-board posts about the situation. Most disturbingly, readers learn from the posts that Alex’s mom is slipping Alex hormones without her knowledge—a choice that, oddly, is never revealed to Alex.
Alex is a winning character, but the glimpses into her mother's twisted point of view are both unsettling and unnecessary. (Fiction. 12-18)