Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher is intense and original. While the drama teeters on melodrama at times, it's hard not to when tackling a story like this one.
Logan is trying to get over his cheating jerk of an ex-gf Brenda when Sage bursts into his Missouri small-town ho-hum life and turns everything upside down. She's fun and eccentric and well, abnormally tall for a girl. She's like no one he's ever met before, and he quickly develops an all-consuming crush. However, her mixed signals are confusing...One minute she's flirting in science class, and the next she's pulling away in the playground. Finally the secret is revealed: Sage is transgender. She was born male, but she has always felt like she was put in the wrong body, and she has been transitioning to life as a female for the past few years. Logan, who has lived a sheltered life in a small Midwest town where people "like that" just simply don't exist, must now come to terms with his feelings for Sage and what to do with them. Unfortunately, his initial reaction is one that's entirely believable for a naive teenage boy...He freaks out in a horribly terrible trans-phobic fit of rage and swears to never speak to her again. What comes next is much more interesting. He cannot ignore his conscience, and he begins the slow process of apology and acceptance as he struggles to understand Sage and his feelings for her that still can't be denied. No, he's not gay. Yes, Sage is a girl. An yes, he still likes her. Unfortunately there is plenty of suffering and bigotry and misunderstanding and hateful people along the way. Is there any chance that they can have a real relationship despite so many obstacles, both inside and outside of themselves?
It's not the most uplifting story, but the book is eye-opening for anyone that doesn't quite understand what it means to be transgender. Add that to being a teenager in a new town, and you've got a whole lot of drama. For other stories about transgender teens, try Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger, I am J by Cris Beam, or Crossing Lines by Paul Volponi. Crossing Lines For otherFF