Jamie doesn’t fit in. He tries to be who his parents want him to be, but she sees a different path in her dreams, and either way, the Jamie who faces the world isn’t the one in the mirror’s reflection. The doctor says his patient “should have been raised female,” but “his mom and dad didn’t like that.” So now Jamieson goes to boarding school and looks for ways to put off those testosterone shots that feel so wrong.
First person writing gives a convincing personal touch to Lianne Simon’s Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite. Jamie feels as real as the photo on the cover of the book. His plight begins to seem less strange as the story progresses—just a genetic condition after all—not even the only genetic condition that results in sexual ambiguity—his/her problem is a real disease with a well-defined cause and name. But Jamie’s not a disease. Jamie’s a person with real hopes and dreams and ambitions, and real parents who, like most parents, do their best and convince themselves they know what’s best. At sixteen years old, Jamie’s a child who played with dolls and wants to both please his parents and grow up to be a woman.
Jamie’s pixie princess—her real self—has been silent and hidden away since age nine because she was labeled a boy at birth. She’s learning the secret codes that let her pretend to be a boy. She knows her body’s not quite female, but she hasn’t realized yet it’s not male enough either. She’s neither, and the Bible doesn’t tell her who neithers are meant to long for or to lie with. She goes to church, keeps the rules, listens to pastors, studies God’s word, and still doesn’t feel like the boy her father says she should be. And she falls in love.
The story’s beautifully told with low-key emotions, intriguing revelations, and genuine concern for honest faith, hope and love. In a world that wants to label us all and fit us into boxes, Jamie’s story defies branding until she accepts that name hermaphrodite—she is who she is; her body belongs to her and to God; and she can love and be loved just as surely as anyone else. There are no great Biblical revelations, no long and glorious prayers, no mystical healings and no wonderful gifts of self-help—just a genuine teenager facing a few more problems than most and finding a way through, a real person reminding us that nobody’s perfect but everyone’s worthwhile however their body’s put together.
I gained a lot of knowledge in passing as I read this book, but mostly I learned to relate to someone I’ll never meet, to see through a different pair of eyes, and, I hope, to understand. Lianne Simon has created a wonderfully readable and enjoyable story, enticingly insightful, challenging and rewarding, and surely essential reading for anyone who knows or might one day know an intersex adult or child.
Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book and asked for my honest review. I can honestly say I loved it and couldn’t put it down.
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About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more