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For Today I Am a Boy: 09/09/16

For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu

For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu is the story of transgender woman growing up in a strict Chinese-Canadian home and not being given the chance to realize she has any other options beyond ignoring her feelings and living as Peter.

Most of the book, then is a rather uncomfortable read of growing up in a Toronto suburb. Her father is strict and desires that all his children be as Canadian (and white) as possible. Her mother secretly wants to hold onto her Chinese heritage and uses her work as a way to escape from his strict supervision.

Meanwhile, Peter (for that is the name she uses until the very last chapter) watches as each of her sisters grow up and move out. The sisters get about as much plot time as Peter does, making for a rather disjointed story.

If anything, this book is more about how suffocating suburban life can be. If you're anything other than a white middle class family, the suburban life is even worse. There's no escape. There's no one else like you nearby. There's no chance to learn of other opportunities or life outside of this carefully constructed, artificial community.

If this were an American novel about a Chinese-American transgender woman growing up, it would be set somewhere like San Dimas. Where Montreal ends up being the salvation for Peter, here it would San Francisco — not because of the Castro, but for its restaurants.

Peter's self made escape is her work in restaurants. She works his way up, first in her home town, and then in Montreal. It's also through the restaurant that she finally meets people like herself. But it takes years. This isn't a coming out story that happens in a course of a single event. This is one by trial and error and the messiness of life.

Three stars

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