Logan Witherspoon recently discovered that his girlfriend of three years cheated on him. But things start to look up when a new student breezes through the halls of his small-town high school. Sage Hendricks befriends Logan at a time when he no longer trusts or believes in people. Sage has been homeschooled for a number of years and her parents have forbidden her to date anyone, but she won’t tell Logan why. One day, Logan acts on his growing feelings for Sage. Moments later, he wishes he never had. Sage finally discloses her big secret: she’s actually a boy. Enraged, frightened, and feeling betrayed, Logan lashes out at Sage and disowns her. But once Logan comes to terms with what happened, he reaches out to Sage in an attempt to understand her situation. But Logan has no idea how rocky the road back to friendship will be.
Why this book?
Almost Perfect is my pick for my realistic book talk I’m giving at our next YA Materials class. The professor told us a little bit about it ahead of time because he was listening to the audiobook and I thought it sounded interesting. Then I read the acknowledgements and knew I was in for something good because it’s basically a compilation of real-life stories that Brian Katcher collected from transgender teens and rolled into one character.
Realistic & Relatable Characters
Logan is a little frustrating at times, but that’s part of what makes him feel real. What straight teenage boy wouldn’t flip out upon finding out that the girl he just kissed is biologically a boy? My only problem with his reaction is that he’s more worried that people will think he’s gay than whether or not he actually is gay.* I did love watching him grow and learn, though. Sometimes his love for Sage was just beautiful. Sage completely stole my heart. She goes through so much and remains so strong. She stands up to her parents’ disapproval, which has to be really hard. She’s so secure in who she is and who she wants to be. She totally embraces it and that’s beautiful. Sage is a shining star and I adore her.
Acceptance, Understanding, & Love
Those are the three words I think describe the main ideas of this book. We all deserve acceptance. I’ve known transgender people and I’ve always accepted them for who they are and respected their passion for being themselves. Unfortunately, there are so many people who aren’t accepting. Sage didn’t have many people to count on for support before she met Logan. Reading about her struggles helped me gain a greater understanding of what transgender teens go through. Love is something that I appreciate in all its forms and I hope everyone will have a chance to experience it. It’s comforting to know that Sage is loved. It makes me hope that other teens like her are loved too. Almost Perfect inspired a huge range of emotions in me, from happy to angry to giddy to devastated, all in 368 pages. It’s a wonderful book.
Almost Perfect won the 2011 Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award and was listed on ALA’s 2010 Rainbow Book List. Both are very well deserved in my opinion.
Everyone has that one line they swear they’ll never cross, the one thing they say they’ll never do. Not something serious like I’ll never kill anyone or I’ll never invade Russia in the winter. Usually, it’s something less earth-shattering.
I’ll never cheat on her.
I’ll never work at a job I hate.
I’ll never give up on my dreams.
We draw the line. Maybe we even believe it. That’s why it’s so hard when we break that promise we make to ourselves.
Sage Hendricks was my line
* This could be because the book was published in 2009 and society’s acceptance of the LGBT community has come a long way since then. It would have been a much bigger deal if someone thought he was gay then than if this book were written in present day. I’m in no way saying that general opinions about LGBT individuals are perfect now because they definitely aren’t. I do think those opinions have improved in the past four years, though. Hopefully, they’ll only keep improving.
Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my professor for an assignment.
A Side Note
I noticed some not-so-awesome reception of this book that Brian Katcher posted on his website. I’m glad I read it after I read the book and wrote my review because I would hate for it to skew my opinion. While I understand where Kyle (the blog post author) is coming from, I also think they’re missing the point of the book (or at least what I think is the point). I got a completely different message from the book than Kyle. While negative things happened and it certainly wasn’t easy for Sage, I thought the book ended on a mostly positive note. The point is to reassure and educate. The point is to tell some kids that there are others out there like them and who understand what they’re going through. The point is to show the unaware that these things are happening in the world. Did I miss something somewhere? Did Kyle pick up on something I let slip past me? Who knows? What a book means ultimately has to do with the reader. That’s why I WILL recommend it. While Kyle had a bad experience and took something negative from it, I had a wonderful experience and took something positive from it. You can read it and make your own decision. You can read Kyle’s post here, but be warned that there are many SPOILERS!
Rating & Recommendations
★★★★★ – Amazing! A must read.
Age Group: 16+
Subjects/Interests: dating, high school, friendship, identity, transgender people, single-parent families, Missouri
Delacorte Press, 2009
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