F2M: The Boy Within by Hazel Edwards and Ryan Kennedy – Book Review
From The Blurb:
School-leaver Skye plays guitar in her all-female Chronic Cramps band. Making her name in the competitive punk/indie scene is easier than FTM (female to male) transitioning: from Skye to Finn, from girl to man. Uncovering genetic mysteries about family heritage tear the family apart. Trans gender identity is more than injections and surgery, it’s about acceptance. Going public, Finn sings FTM lyrics on TV. With a little help from bemused mates and family who don’t want to lose a daughter, but who love their teenager, Finn is transitioning.
You might know Hazel Edwards as the author of There’s A Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake, but F2M: The Boy Within is a very different book, co-authored with Ryan Kennedy. It’s about a high school leaver, Skye, transitioning to Finn.
I walked into my local library looking for something to read (I guess I was in the right place). As I passed the YA section, I noticed that Alex as Well and F2M were both facing out on display. I absolutely adored Alex as Well, so I was super pumped to read F2M. I was also excited to see them being like on display, not tucked away on the shelf!
F2M: The Boy Within follows the story of female, Skye, transitioning to male, Finn and it’s set in Melbourne, Australia. We get thrown into the narrative when Skye is just starting to understand that although outwardly ‘female’, he is really male. Skye/Finn is a member of a feminist punk band and we get a glimpse into a peer group that is anti-establishment, radical, feminist, punk, and even somewhat anti-capitalist, which is totally awesome.
Watch the F2M trailer:
Finn faces some pretty tough opposition to his decision, but overall this story is incredibly hopeful and not tortuous. Some reviewers have criticised it because Finn’s transition seems ‘too easy’, but I for one welcome a story about a trans person that doesn’t make their life a living hell. There’s plenty of tension, opposition and awkwardness in this novel to make it compelling. Hell, there’s even a family mystery!
F2M tackles some really interesting topics because the central characters are more involved in social justice movements like feminism. One of the most interesting elements of the story was tackling anti-trans sentiment from a feminist character. This is one of the main tensions in the book and I think it’s a smart and jarring inclusion.
The internet is a really powerful tool in F2M as Finn initially discovers the trans community online, finds information, medical professionals and most importantly makes friends through message boards and blogs. In fact the authors collaborated on this book using predominately web technologies and it’s fantastic to see the way in which technology is also woven into the story.
The voice of Finn feels a little stilted, but to some extent I think that’s a reflection on his personality. Also some of the minor characters in F2M kinda blend into each other. BUT! F2M is still a really awesome read.
Overall I really enjoyed F2M: The Boy Within. I also was so excited to see my local library making an effort to display books with trans protagonists. It seems like a small step toward visibility for trans people.
4 out of 5 stars.
This book review was written by Visibility Fiction minion, Stevie Schafer.