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f2m: The Boy Within by Hazel Edwards
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f2m: The Boy Within

by Hazel Edwards, Ryan Kennedy

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I was stunned to realise that the author I adored as a child, the author of the 'Hippopotamus' picture books, was also the author of a YA book about a trans teen transitioning to a male body. I sort of expect authors to be stuck back writing for the age you discovered them at, I think: I didn't expect Hazel Edwards to have any kind of a subtle grasp on gender and sexuality, to have any of the issues I've become familiar with as an adult close to her heart too.

Well, her grasp of gender and transitioning isn't that subtle -- I think this book is tremendously naive about the problems teens face with their families and friends, and about the long medical process of transition -- but I'm immensely glad this book is out there. Maybe it doesn't hurt for an optimistic, naive story to be out there for trans teens to get hold of, although I wish it came with a warning that the medical procedures could not legally or even morally (on the part of the doctors) be carried out this fast.

It's simply written, too, a quick read, suitable for young teens. ( )
1 vote shanaqui | Jul 24, 2013 |
f2m by Hazel Edwards and Ryan Kennedy is a YA novel about 18 year old Skye deciding to go with her heart and transition to male. Will Finn be welcomed into the once all-girl band? What will her parents and brother think? Plus, there are family secrets!

The book is a pretty quick and tame read. For young adults who might feel the need to transition (especially those in Australia, as some of the steps are very specific to Australian health care), the book reads like a step by step process, wrapped up in a fictionalized package.

To fluff things up, there's Skye/Finn's paricipation a punk band, some stuff about getting a drivers' license and finally, the history of Great Uncle/Aunt Al, whose history is only revealed after Finn begins his transition.

Frankly, Al's story was more interesting than Finn's. From the small handful of transition stories I've now read, they all seem desperate to find a balance between making it seem normal for the character who is transitioning, while making it as dramatic / traumatic for everyone else in the book, while still making the book a "clean" read.

While I still recommended F2M for the logistics of transitioning, I think the best (meaning most believable characters) book I've read so far is Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde. ( )
  pussreboots | May 21, 2013 |
Young Adult novel written by an Australian author primarily known for her "There's a Hippopotamus on My Roof ..." books for young children. This books follows the story of 18 year old Skye as she transitions to become Finn - it deals with the impact on Finn's family and friends and is a well-told and sometimes witty story based loosely on co-author Ryan Kennedy's experiences. ( )
  PennyAnne | Mar 30, 2011 |
Hazel Edwards and Ryan Kennedy have pulled off a world-first with their funny fictional portrayal of a previously taboo subject. Gender Identity Disorder or people who are transgender are often misunderstood. It’s too easy to regard them as cross-dressers or homosexuals in denial. f2m opens doors to understanding while providing a fast-paced down-to earth read.
  QAHC_CCCL | Mar 21, 2011 |
Showing 4 of 4
Eighteen-year-old Skye is a member of an all-girl punk rock band. Skye has never felt like a girl. Inside, (s) he is Finn, a boy. Making the decision to let Finn be outside as well as in involves a lot of work. How do you tell your family and friends and the members of your feminist rock band that you’re going to undergo female-to-male treatment and surgery? Fortunately, there’s a family precedent: great-uncle Albert … or is that great-aunt Alberta?

Skye/Finn could easily be a victim, but refuses. It isn’t going to be easy for anyone, but (s)he decides, finally, that family, friends and rock band will just have to live with it. And they do.

The book goes into enormous detail about the procedures involved in what is known as FTM. It’s a lot less common than the other way around – male to female – although it has been in the news in the last couple of years, when a man who had kept his female “equipment” had a baby because his wife couldn’t. I knew a female-to-male myself. Unlike Skye, "Jan" became “David” in her/his forties. Nobody, but nobody dared to call Jan a woman, even when she was! And David’s family and friends accepted it as Finn’s family do in the novel. At his funeral, the nephews and nieces referred to "Uncle David", even when he was no longer there to get upset.

The novel also explores the punk rock sub-culture, which is interesting in its own right.

Ford Street Publishing has become known for taking on controversial subjects. It probably needs an author as well-known and respected as Hazel Edwards to get away with this one. Ryan Kennedy, her co-author, is himself an FTM, so knows what he is talking about.

Perhaps an afterword with a URL or organization, if any, within Australia might have helped, so that those to whom the book applies don’t have to do all the web searches that Skye/Finn did in the course of the novel.

It’s well-written and answers a lot of questions. There are some likable characters in it and some nice touches of humour. There’s even the whimsical presentation of a couple who are a female-to-male and a male-to-female. Who are, incidentally, managing just fine. Finn doesn’t like the FTM, Rodney, but hey, he doesn’t have to.

It will certainly appeal to those teenagers who are asking themselves questions about their own gender identities.

Whether or not it will have appeal for ordinary teenagers I am not sure. I suspect they will be uncomfortable with it, though this doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be out there. Will kids who say, “That is so gay!” about anything negative get enthused about characters who are not actually gay but have gender issues? I won’t know until I have put this in my library and seen how the students react. Watch this space.
added by e.hunt | editOnline, SUE BURSZTYNSKI
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hazel Edwardsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kennedy, Ryanmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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School-leaver Skye plays guitar in her all-female Chronic Cramps band. Making her name in the punk/indie scene is easier than FTM (female to male) transitioning from Skye to Finn, from girl to man. Ages 14+.

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