31 May 2014

Review - Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman

Author: Alyssa Brugman
Publisher: Curious Fox
Published: May 2014
Pages: 216
Source: For review*
Genre: YA, Contemporary

I was very kindly sent this book by Curious Fox in exchange for an honest review. As always, this review is 100% honest and all opinions are my own. 

"Why does it matter whether I am a boy or a girl? But it does. It really, really matters." When Alex was born, the doctors described him as “sexually ambiguous”, with both male and female reproductive organs. For the last fourteen years his parents have raised Alex as a boy. They dressed him in boys’ clothes, sent him to a boys’ school and gave him medication to help regulate his hormones. But last night at dinner, Alex made an announcement, three words that would change everything: “I’m a girl”. And when Alex sets about changing her life – her wardrobe, her school, her entire identity – no one knows how to react, least of all her parents.


Alex As Well was a book that I was really interested in reading. It deals with an issue that isn't usually discussed in books for this age-range (12+) so I was curious as to how Alyssa Brugman would approach it and how it would be managed in the book. I'm not new to novels about gender identification and intersexuality but Alex As Well is the first one I've read that is aimed at young teenagers. I wanted to read Alex As Well to gauge how the author approached the issue and, to be completely honest, I'm not convinced.

Our protagonist is Alex - she was born intersexual and her parents made the decision to raise her as a boy but when she becomes a teenager and has started to think about gender identification, she decided that she would rather be recognised as a girl. She stops taking her medication and starts to identify as a girl. As soon as I read about Alex's decision, I started to really admire her - what she did shows a lot of courage. Throughout the novel, Alex comes across as being quite bratty and selfish but, considering what she is going through, I really couldn't blame her. Overall, I liked the character of Alex. Sticking with the topic of characters, I really didn't find any of the other characters to be particularly likable and, in many cases, they didn't provoke much of a response from me. Alex's parents were, in my opinion, terrible people who were manipulative, oppressive and controlling but, unfortunately, that's the way quite a few parents would probably react to Alex's decision. Alyssa Brugman managed to show the harsh reality of how a decision like Alex's could affect family life. This is where I start to have a few issues with Alex As Well...

Dealing with intersexuality in a book for young teenagers brings quite a lot of responsibility and I think it's incredibly important to handle it carefully and sympathetically. There's a good chance that a reader could be struggling with identification themselves and, unfortunately, I think Alex As Well could make it harder for them to accept themselves and make these decisions. Although it was handled carefully for the most part, Alex As Well also suggested that making a decision like Alex's could ruin families and friendships. It was an honest novel but it may have also put intersexuality in a negative light.

Right, negativity over! I've got to say, I really enjoyed Alyssa Brugman's writing style. She showed great flair and natural talent, making Alex As Well an easy and enjoyable read. I had a few issues with aspects of the novel (as said above) but overall, I admire Alyssa Brugman for her writing and for having the confidence to address the topic of intersexuality in a novel for younger readers. I give Alex As Well, 3 out of 5 stars.

Lots of love, Cat


  1. I got sent this one too! Though it was really unexpected and I didn't request it. I feel like I should read and review it but I read the first chapter and I'm just not sure if it's my thing. [The thing at the end of the first chapter kind-of weirded me out. 12+?!].

    Do you think I should give it a go? You do know my reading tastes pretty well... ?

    Great review!

    1. There are quite a few bits like that which surprised me a bit but it says aged 12 on the website!
      To be completely honest, I don't think you'd really enjoy it...I'm not sure if it's your kind of book. :/ xx

  2. I read the first few chapters of this and thought it was rather interesting. But like Rachel said, what happened at the end of the first chapter wasn't something I wanted to read about. With content like that there is no way I'd give this book to a 12-year-old.
    I might pick it up, I might not but I know from reviews like this that it probably isn't for me.

    Great view :)
    Holly xx

    1. I found it to be really quite strange because there were a lot of bits which are mature and unsuitable for 12 year-olds, but the language and the majority of the book as a whole was a little immature... It was confusing and I'm not sure who it's really suitable for. :/ xx


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