First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn’t hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.
Ames isn’t happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese – and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina reveals that she’s pregnant with his baby – and that she’s not sure whether she want to keep it – Ames wonders if this is the chance he’s been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family – and raise the baby together?
This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can’t reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.”
Yes, it is the first Friday of September. Wow, we all managed to survive eight months. We just have to go through four more and we will be welcoming a new year. It feels surreal for it seems just yesterday that we are welcoming 2021, brimming with hope. The past year and a half has been challenging for all of us. The COVID19 pandemic has wreaked havoc to everyone, resetting plans, and basically putting everything in an eerie standstill. Still, hope always springs eternal. I am hoping that you are all doing well in this most uncertain of times. I fervently hope and pray that this pandemic ends soon.
As it is Friday, it is time for a First Impression Friday update. My reading journey in August was a mixture of Japanese literature and of new books, i.e. books published this year. As the time I spent reading new books was short, I am extending it to September. With this, my current read is Torrey Peters’ Detransition, Baby. The novel initially caught my interest earlier this year when I was searching for books to include in my 2021 Books I Look Forward To List. However, because of the number of interesting books that piqued my interest, it got cut off. A couple of months later, I will encounter the book again after it was longlisted for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction. The first openly transwoman nominated for the literary award, her nomination was, unsurprisingly, met with heavy opposition.
I do admit that one of the reasons why I eventually included the book in my own reading list is because of this controversy. My desire to know what the book holds trumped my initial reservations. Detransition, Baby follows the story of Ames, Reese and Katrina. Ames was formerly a transwoman using the name Amy. Later on, Amy decided to detransition into a man to avoid the challenges he encountered when he was living as a transwoman. Reese, on the other hand, was Ames’ former lover, when he was still Amy. Katrina is Ames’ boss and current flame. The narrative unspools as Katrina finds herself pregnant with Ames’ child.
The narrative is split into two time frames. In the past, the story magnifies on the story of Ames and Reese. We get to learn about their own histories and how they transitioned, and eventually, in Ames’ case, detransitioned. The present is concerned, from what I have read so far, on Katrina’s pregnancy, including the expecting parents’ anxieties; Katrina was already in her late thirties. Reese, meanwhile, fervently desires to become a mother. It was a dream she knew was virtually impossible to obtain. Peters’ debut novel starts to crystalize into an interesting premise that nearly mirrors a polyamorous relationship; I first came across the term and the concept in Ilana Masad’s All My Mother’s Lovers.
To add diversity to the story, Katrina is of Jewish and Chinese heritage. I do feel like Katrina’s heritage was an afterthought, a last moment decision to, again, add diversity to the narrative. However, it is too early to tell if such is the case. I am just a little over a hundred pages done and Katrina’s story was related mostly through tidbits. I want to see how her heritage pans out in the story because, so far, it is inconsequential even though Peters kept interjecting it at every possible moment. Maybe it does play a seminal role in the story.
Despite my apprehensions, I am kind of liking how the story is building up. Ames, however, feels shallow. Katrina as well. Reese is the central force of the story; I can feel it. She is the force that binds it all together. I am excited to know how the story develops, and hopefully, I get proven wrong. How about you fellow reader? What book are you reading into the weekend? I hope you get to enjoy it. For now, happy weekend!