Call Me Him is one of the most beautiful, heart-wrenching and raw coming-of-age stories I’ve ever read. It’s such an honest, thought-provoking and important ownvoices-story about the struggles of a transgender teen boy that deserves to be read by everyone!
Born Willow, 14-year-old SoCal skate-punk Wylie Masterson, struggles not only with the problems most teens do with puberty, self-discovery and finding your directions, but with so much more. When you’re a transgender male whose body, family and society insist that you are female, the struggle to break out and live the life you were meant to live become a matter of life and death. Every day in Wylie’s life is a fight to be who he is and to not let his overly-religious and judgmental mother, narrow-minded teachers, abusing policemen or mean high school peers pull him down and break him. Luckily, his new friend Alex and his parents become a big support, letting him feel safe and not like a freak for struggling with his identity, and guiding him to get the support he needs. Until one final letdown pushes him over the brink.
I completely rooted for Wylie from the very first second in this raw, honest and emotional story that reflects the harsh realities of life for members of the LGBTQ+ community. I just wanted to hug him and tell him that everything would be alright, and yell at the mean people surrounding him, protect him and make sure he would get the life he deserved. This story didn’t shy away from any of the realities, and there were some really difficult scenes that might trigger some readers, involving for example transphobia, misgendering, body dysphoria, sexual assault, violence, bullying, self-harm, anxiety, depression and drug use. But it was nevertheless a hopeful and inspiring story about self-discovery and acceptance, about making it possible to live out your true self and to be loved for who you are.
“Why do you think you’re a freak?”
I made an outline of my self with my hands, from head to toe. “Hello? Do you not see this?”
“I see a transgender boy. One of many who have sat on that same couch. I see a smart, resourceful young man who is letting other people’s words define him. And I see him ready to define himself.”
This is such an important book, that I know many young persons will feel empowered and seen by and that will show them that no one should have to conform to anyone else’s standards of sexual identity or gender, but that we are all free to be who we are and how empowering it is to be true and open about it. To never let anyone believe we are freaks or not worth fighting for because they are not exactly like everyone else.
I just have two minor complaints. The first one is that the romance part felt a bit rushed. It played such an important role in the story and I’m so happy it was there to show the realities of being intimate with someone when you don’t feel good about yourself and all parts of your body, but I just wished there would have been some more build-up to it. The second one is the way Wylie was first presented as close to a school drop-out, taking drugs and ditching classes, but to later apparently have a photographic memory that helped him be Valedictorian. I think it would have been better for the story if the photographic memory and the fact that Wylie was doing fine in school had been mentioned much earlier and made into a bigger part of his persona.
But all in all, this was an absolutely wonderful and heart-wrenching story with an important message and authentic and relatable characters to root for. I recommend this book with all my heart and am so glad that River Braun decided to write the book he would have needed himself growing up.
Thank you NetGalley and Smith Publicity for the opportunity to read this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review!
4.5 heartfelt stars rounding up to 5
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