Monday, 16 January 2017

BOOK REVIEW | Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (****)

Hello readers, and happy Monday! Today I am very excited to be bringing you a review of not only a brilliantly written and collated, but also an unarguably important book. 

I was kindly sent Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Walker Books, in exchange for an honest review.

As soon as I saw this, I knew it was something I had to read. I spend my whole life trying to pretend that I understand everything about the world (obviously I don't lol) so when I find a book that I think will broaden my perception of the world, I am desperate to get my hands on it. Beyond Magenta seemed to me to be that kind of book. And, luckily, I was right! 

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out is a wonderful book chronicling the lives of transgender and gender-neutral teenagers. Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six young adults, who appear throughout the book. You meet these young people before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender identity. The pages are filled with portraits and family photographs, making this an emotional and unforgettable read.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.

I have dipped in and out of this book for months during essay season and the end of term - it is definitely a book that you can read a bit at a time - in my case, one teen's personal essay for each reading session. I loved the fact that it was a book with images, which allowed me to really connect with each story and each person featured in the book. I loved how the book didn't read as an interview, with questions and answers appearing systematically on the pages, but as individual stories that really allow the voice to come through. 

I loved reading about these people's journeys and their exploration of their own identities. I don't want to call the teens inspiring, because I feel like that's very patronising, but I certainly felt inspired while reading the book that I want to live my life with a greater understanding of other people, with the sensitivity and awareness of what other people are experiencing. 

The one thing that I didn't love about this book was the fact that I feel like the stories were watered down slightly, to suit a cis audience (a person who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth) and to explain things to them, rather than a book written to help young people who are having problems figuring out who they are, and where they belong. If the young people were given total free reign to let loose with their stories, I feel like we would have been recipients of a grittier reality that is so true for so many young people.

Despite this, I did truly love this book and I will definitely be re-reading it, especially the stories of Cameron and Luke, which I found particularly enjoyable.

I would definitely recommend you pick up this book!

Check out Susan Kuklin here:

Until next time :)

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