CHOIR BOY by Charlie Anders


Age Range: 14 & up
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Halfway between realism and fable, this groundbreaking and unflinching tale of teenage transsexualism falters from the lack of a cohesive voice and too much figurative language. Thirteen-year-old Berry, a choirboy since age five, quakes at the inevitable change that will steal his singing voice, the only thing he cares about. After slashing himself with a knife, he’s sent to an unhelpful therapist, but another patient points him to a permissive clinic, where he obtains testosterone blockers and female hormones. Fellow choirboys, an adult transsexual prostitute, wackily harmful parents and a rainbow of urban nonconformists surround Berry’s identity struggle. He likes his new breasts but isn’t sure he wants to be a woman or a man. He may be too young to know, or he may be a person who never fits neatly into either sex. Atrocious metaphors, sloppy editing and too many pithy observations detract from the prose. This mostly ignored subject needs high-quality prose; one would hope that Berry’s story, though memorable, foreshadows new—and tighter—entries. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2005
ISBN: 1-932360-81-6
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2005


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by Susan Kuklin