Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Wrestling Against Myself by Katie Leone (REVIEW)

Wrestling Against Myself is a sweet, touching and gut-wrenching story by Katie Leone, an author who has a knack for demanding the reader's emotional involvement in her novels. This is a realistically told story about a romance between two innocents that flames brightly before calamitous events precipitated by hate, bigotry and transphobia test the values and principles of the "righteous" as this novel winds toward a very exciting conclusion.

What I loved most about this book was that it grabbed me at the start and gripped me from start to finish. I also enjoyed witnessing the unfolding inner strength and unflinching loyalty of Antonio, the male lead. What a fine young person, wise beyond his years, but still very human and not without his flaws. Surprisingly for me, I also appreciated the strongly religious aspect of this book, which was portrayed in a manner that seemed appropriate for the characters, but not to the point of trying to convert the reader to Christianity.  For the non-Christian reader like me, this was interesting and more than tolerable.

Where I felt this work was less than perfect, was my sense that the story was a little too drawn out. I felt that it could have been condensed a bit and tightened up for an even better reading experience. On the other hand, that it was not, made the events that were to unfold appear more like the "train-wreck" they turned out to be. So who knows? Lastly, the character of Courtney, our very young transgender protagonist, was a bit too enigmatic for me and not as developed as I would have liked. I sometimes wondered what Antonio saw in her that caused him to love her. Yes, she was sweet, innocent and needy, but what else was she? Well, I guess, as Antonio (and Woody Allen) were fond of saying, "The heart wants what the heart wants." A very enjoyable effort.

[Reviewed by Samuel]

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