Read For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu Online

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Peter Huang and his sisters—elegant Adele, shrewd Helen, and Bonnie the bon vivant—grow up in a house of many secrets, then escape the confines of small-town Ontario and spread from Montreal to California to Berlin. Peter’s own journey is obstructed by playground bullies, masochistic lovers, Christian ex-gays, and the ever-present shadow of his Chinese father.At birth, PetPeter Huang and his sisters—elegant Adele, shrewd Helen, and Bonnie the bon vivant—grow up in a house of many secrets, then escape the confines of small-town Ontario and spread from Montreal to California to Berlin. Peter’s own journey is obstructed by playground bullies, masochistic lovers, Christian ex-gays, and the ever-present shadow of his Chinese father.At birth, Peter had been given the Chinese name Juan Chaun, powerful king. The exalted only son in the middle of three daughters, Peter was the one who would finally embody his immigrant father's ideal of power and masculinity. But Peter has different dreams: he is certain he is a girl.Sensitive, witty, and stunningly assured, Kim Fu’s debut novel lays bare the costs of forsaking one’s own path in deference to one laid out by others. For Today I Am a Boy is a coming-of-age tale like no other, and marks the emergence of an astonishing new literary voice....

Title : For Today I Am a Boy
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780544034723
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

For Today I Am a Boy Reviews

  • Debbie
    2018-11-01 18:52

    This novel was so good I devoured it in two days. It follows the main character, Peter Huang, throughout his life. Peter was born a boy, but believes he is a girl. I've read a few transgender books before, but the way Fu was able to take me into the innocence and confusion of her main character was remarkable. She shows what it feels like to essentially live a double life. How culture and society can become destructive forces when they hinder one's ability to choose a life directed from within.The beginning in many ways sets the stage for Peter's life. Early on, his father tells him "We waited a long time for you. In a family the man is king. Without you, I die - no king." He is the only boy in a family of three sisters, and feels he is one of them. Before he begins school his oldest sister tells him, he is a boy. Peter is confused and saddened, and we watch as he tries to fit in with the boys. He feels forced to live a life full of secrets and shame. It isn't until a life changing event occurs in college, that Peter finally begins to question how he has been living. I always find it amazing that children know their gender at such an early age. Fu's book is timely, and gives the story of one person who's life reflects so many. She focuses mainly on the feelings and emotions of growing up knowing you are different.

  • Allison Hiltz
    2018-10-18 22:07

    From The Book Wheel:When I was in college, I took a human sexuality course and sat next to a beautiful woman who had, as it turned out, been born a male. And so was her girlfriend. To top it off, one had reassignment surgery and the other had not (but was planning to). Naturally, the class was abuzz with whispering about whether they were heterosexual (due to body parts), homosexual (due to birth body parts), or lesbians (due to identity). But the best part about the whole thing was that the two of them opened up the floor for us to ask any question we wanted without judgment. Every single hand shot up within seconds.Needless to say, it was an educational experience and, if I had to pick one, the single most educational moment of my college career (if any of my readers are in Gainesville, FL and know these lovely ladies, please pass on their impact). But this was ten years ago when equal protections for transgendered were being advocated for the first time (it passed) and the general population wasn’t reading books about it.For the full review, click here.

  • Wart Hill
    2018-10-23 14:55

    I received this book free through a GoodReads First Reads give away. (I also apparently can't spell "received")Note: Throughout my review, I refer to the MC as Peter because this is the name used throughout the bulk of the novel. I do, however, use female pronouns because it is clear that Peter identifies as a woman.I've been thinking about what to say about this book all afternoon at work, and I still am not really sure. I liked it. A lot. For the most part. Except for chapter 5, which was mind numbingly BORING.The story is told more like...scenes in the life of Peter Huang. Which is actually pretty well done, and it all weaves together very nicely.Peter's story is kind of heartbreaking. She's a first generation Canadian born to two Chinese immigrants - the only male child among four children. Therefore, Peter has his family's hopes and dreams - particularly her father's - placed upon her shoulders basically from birth.Those hopes and dreams pretty much consist of growing up to be a successful, strong, married, man and father.Peter's dreams run a little different.One of our assignments was What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.Working in studious silence, I drew myself as a Mommy.I drew myself with a stiff halo of hair, swaddled babies around my feet. A satisfied smile from ear to ear. "I want to be a Mommy."Peter hides her dreams and wants, she lives the life laid out for her while taking secret moments to be who she feels herself to be - wearing an apron and cleaning, wearing her sisters old dresses and make-up...She does what she can alone, because she does not think the world will accept her.One thing I think is most real in this book is that it isn't a story of triumph - it isn't Peter breaking through the stifling cocoon of societal norms and emerging as the woman she was meant to be. This is more, I think, about the loneliness of living a life that doesn't fit right. Of being someone who you don't feel.And I think Kim Fu painted it beautifully.Except chapter five, holy crap balls that chapter bored me to tears

  • Rebecca Foster
    2018-11-17 18:58

    Fu’s formidable debut, reminiscent of Jeffrey Eugenides and John Irving, makes a worthy addition to my list of gender-pioneering books. In 1979, Peter Huang is born – the third of four children, and the much-wanted only son – to a Chinese immigrant family outside Toronto. He grows up in a kind of sorority made up of older sisters Adele and Helen, and younger sister Bonnie. In first grade, for his “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up” assignment, he chooses “Mommy.”Despite school bullies and his father’s push toward conventional gender roles, Peter knows he is meant to be a girl. His sisters all figure him out, sooner or later, and his attempted sexual relationships with women – one a sadomasochist, one an Evangelical ex-lesbian – convince him that he cannot continue living a lie. After a decade and more spent working in Montreal’s chic restaurant world and cross-dressing in secret at home, Peter meets a young chef named John who was born a girl; the friendship will give him the courage he needs to live out his real identity.The novel reminds me most of Kathleen Winter’s Annabel (another gender-bender set in Canada) and Hanna Pylväinen’s We Sinners – especially the way Peter delves deeper, in turn, into the lives of each of his sisters and his mother (his father remains something of an enigma, however). The writing is strong, especially in the tremendous first and last paragraphs. The title (taken from a song of the same name by Antony and the Johnsons) and cover (I’ve seen three different ones, all great, but my NetGalley edition was the one with the pink wig) are also spot-on. Kim Fu is only 26; I’m so impressed with this first display of her talent, and can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.(I enjoyed this interview with Fu; it even includes a suggestion of what to drink while reading!)

  • CW (Read Think Ponder)
    2018-10-21 16:12

    EDIT 9TH JAN '17: I highly encourage all of you to read this article (https://thewalrus.ca/rise-of-the-gend...), written by a trans woman writer. The article highlights some of the problems within For Today I Am a Boy, and how its representation of trans* is stereotypical and potentially triggering.-Beautiful, earnest, visceral, raw.It is not often that you come across books that feature a trans woman of colour. It is exceptionally rare to come across one with a Chinese trans woman as its narrator. Finally, a story not only about a Chinese person, but a story about a Chinese person with an identity whose narrative is often invisible.Fu's debut novel is an intricate coming-of-age tale, full of subtleties, the twilight and dawn of life, and a story of what we bury deep inside us. Fu captures the human condition in its momentary beauty, illusory peace, melancholia, and how our lives are in a trajectory of movement, regression, but also growth.Above all, For Today I am a Boy questions how much suffering and misery we endure for those fleeting moments of authenticity, that sense of rightness and truth to ourselves. Is this the human condition? To strive for congruence, to develop identity, to seek the true self?For Today I am a Boy chronicles Peter's life, from the innocence and attentive mind of a child, to the jaded and fatalistic adult. It explores gender dysphoria and how the pain is a crippling silence, it navigates childhood bullies, broken promises and dreams, her first job and sexual awakening, and manipulative lovers. However, something that I wanted to talk about - that is integral in the narrative and is quite close to my heart - is Peter's family.Writing and talking about Chinese family dynamics can be extremely precarious. We risk critical judgement and scrutiny from our Western, non-Asian peers when we talk honestly and openly about ourselves, our culture, and the palpable differences. For this reason, I am often apprehensive to share my culture with people I do not trust, not because I don't want to share (because I usually really do), but out of fear of irrevocable judgement.Fu writes about the Chinese family dynamic with honesty and sensitivity, and I commend her for it. Fu lays bare Peter's authoritative father and his idealization of Western masculinity, Peter's very different but quietly loving and accepting sisters, and Peter's mother who I truly understand but I just cannot find the words to describe. Peter's family is Fu's quiet refutation to all the lazy, stereotypical characterization of Asian characters (i.e. Asian non-English speaking gangsters, the Magical Asian whose sole purpose is to mentor the White character, nerdy Asian, etc.). It was refreshing to read a story that had Chinese characters that were complex, that felt like people rather than caricatures.Can you tell I am so deprived of well-written Asian characters?Furthermore, Fu's portrayal isn't exploitative or harmful; it is an unapologetic and provocative illustration of the complexes and dreams of the immigrant family. Immigrant families sacrifice so much; not only of themselves for themselves, but for their children too. Peter's father and his steadfast renunciation of his Chinese heritage is not a simple process of rejection.This act is seemingly one of cruelty or an assertion of his dominance, but I perceive this as an act of great pain; to want something so desperately - whether it be acceptance from his home in Canada or success for his children - that he was willing sacrifice who he was, the language and heritage he grew up with it in exchange for this imagined acceptance and success. To an extent, Peter's father is spurred by dreams of grandeur that have blinded him to how necessary identity is, and that it cannot be simply relinquished. Of course, he is forceful and imposes the West and its ideals on his family but it is such a complex and deep reaction -- one that is difficult to understand and perhaps can only be wholly understood from lived experience.Peter's struggle with gender identity is a perilous, unrelenting journey. Her struggles and unhappiness were so graphically portrayed that the ache and anguish was laced in the narrative voice. The suffocation was palpable; I too felt suffocated and hurt. Add in the expectations of her father whose omnipresence permeates all areas of Peter's life, lovers who exploit Peter for the purpose of their twisted fantasies, and the constant feeling of confusion, and alienation that stem from these experiences.I regard For Today I am a Boy as one of those rare, once-in-a-lifetime reads. To say I 'enjoyed' it would be a misrepresentation of what this book can offer. Rather than enjoyment, this book offers insight, a unique trans narrative, and also a narrative on cultural differences and why, yes, race does matter. For all its quietness, this book shifted something deep inside me; it has changed me in a way I can not yet fathom.A fantastic piece of LGBTQ+ literature, For Today I am a Boy is a book that I will never regret reading.Rating: 4.5/5-Review can also be found on my book blog, Read, Think, Ponder!

  • Mish
    2018-10-28 18:01

    2 1/2 StarsPeter Huang, born to a Chinese couple whom migrated to Canada and the only male in amongst his three siblings. There’s a level of hierarchy within the family were the father is the domineering one, the bread winner and decision maker, and the mother is expected to carry out her ‘Motherly/Wife’ duties and her opinion and voice is not heard. The father had high expectations for all his children as far as education and career goes but with Peter, being the treasured male in his father’s eyes, there was a greater emphasis on him to become the powerful king - like his real name in Chinese – and to show his masculinity. In later years, the demands of his father and his last words to Peter had an overwhelming impact on Peter’s ability to move on and lead a life he desired; he felt trapped, riddled with guilt and confused by the body he had been given. Because all he can think about is being a girl.The Author has a beautiful writing style; smooth to the ears, readable, and has an honest respect for the issues raised. But unfortunately, it was the only thing that kept me reading to the end. The plot and the character building lacked substance and order. I assume this book would be primarily about Peter’s and his struggle with gender identity – it’s a small book so how much could you possibility pack in? But Fu would branch out into different directions with these individual chapters, detailing the lives of his rebellious sisters and character’s that were introduced along the way. I didn't feel they had any great impact to the progress of the plot or the level of enjoyment, and at times it didn’t seem as though it had any relevance – or perhaps I missed the point or message completely. The side characters had vibrant personalities, which overshadowed Peter (the main protagonist) and his struggles, and I felt totally detached from Peter; he was flat and not properly drawn out. Disappointed in the novels structure and depth but there's a sure sign that Ms Fu can write.Read for #litexp14- DramaThanks to Random House Australia Pty Ltd and Netgalley for my review copy

  • Melinda
    2018-10-31 19:17

    Peter wrestles with gender expectations and his own gender identity.Fu introduces the reader to a family ruled by a quasi tyrannical father heavy on Chinese cultural and traditional beliefs. Although the story focuses on each family member, Peter ultimately becomes the center of the narrative.Peter, the only male son born of two Chinese immigrants – his life mapped out from the womb by his father. The burden of expectation serves as a yoke around Peter’s neck. Successful, a pillar of strength, marriage along with a family – merely scratching at the life sketched for Peter.“I drew myself with a stiff halo of hair, swaddled babies around my feet. A satisfied smile from ear to ear. “I want to be a Mommy.”However Peter hopes for a different life, a life he only shares with his sisters, a hidden secret kept from his parents.Peter sneaks moments where he can be his authentic self – wearing an apron, cooking, cleaning, dressing up, applying make-up. Tasks performed alone, fearful of how the world will accept her.“I felt a wave of panic. I never peed standing up. When I had to, I thought of my body as a machine, a robot that did my bidding. A combination of arms and legs and heart and lungs. It had nothing to do with me. My real body was somewhere else, waiting for me. It looked like my sisters’ bodies.”The story gives hope but it really highlights the pain and isolation of living a life as a lie. How you have to hide your authentic self due to parental disapproval along with societal scorn. Fitting into an unfamiliar an awkward skin feeling as if you’re an unwelcome intruder, clearly knowing your trapped in a body representing the wrong sex.Fu masters Peter and his brutal and beautiful story. Painful tinged with hope.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2018-11-12 17:12

    I first encountered this book on a GoodReads list, Anticipated Literary Reads for Readers of Color 2014. I'm not really comfortable with the term "color" but the list is great, and I added almost everything to my to-read list, since I am always trying to read new authors from different backgrounds. Then it came up on NetGalley and I jumped at the chance, and the publisher agreed to let me read an eARC for an honest review.For Today I Am a Boy is about Peter, one of the youngest siblings in a Chinese-Canadian family, who struggles with his gender identity without having a name for it or a game plan. The author does a good job of demonstrating the difficulty of exploring gender within the confines of a traditional family with specific expectations for boys, but also the very real limits of self-denial and self-hatred. When Peter encounters a community of people more fluid in gender and sexual identity, it is almost like he doesn't know how to handle it, as he has lived so much of his true self in secret. I loved the details of the restaurant world, and it makes me think the author has had some experience there. Restaurants do tend to draw in the people who are on the outskirts!I loved the ending, but won't spoil it here. Recommended.

  • KimberlyRose
    2018-10-29 21:00

    I wanted to like this book about an MtF individual, to give it a five-star rating, but there was a surprising distance held between me and the first-person narrator. I felt a constant "juuuust out of reach" to the narrator's emotions. Perhaps it was the method of delivery, the "snapshot" path, instead of linear? Or was it the excessive (dull) symbolism and attempts at highbrow "look at me, I'm lit-er-a-ture"? I also dislike the story style of one MC who interacts with a plethora of characters--it is a brave choice for an author because, with all these characters who are supposed to be important but end up being annoying and distracting, it is exceedingly hard to keep me committed to even the main MC.But! All that said, I would still recommend it to anyone, even if just to try reading it. The topic is important and widely misunderstood. The story can only help illuminate people to greater wisdom and empathy.

  • El
    2018-10-23 22:06

    If this hadn't been a book chosen by one of my Goodreads groups, I probably wouldn't have picked this up on my own because I can be sort of lazy about contemporary novels unless there's so much chatter about something that I can't ignore it, and just to shut everyone up I will read it. That's not so much the case here, though I'm surprised there isn't more chatter about this book.Peter Huang is a boy amongst a family of sisters. His family moved to Canada from China, and his father is what many of us consider to be a stereotypical Asian father - a bit cold, wanting more for his children than he could have, and placing an immense pressure on his wife to have a male child. Peter is the third child, better late than never, and then came another girl, so Peter grows up with sisters and essentially considers himself one of them. Because a male who identifies as a female is not appropriate behavior for a boy in the eyes of his more conservative parents, Peter grows up in an uncomfortable silence with himself about what he feels, what he wants, where he wants to go with his life. There's confliction galore here.As the children grow and ultimately move to different places of the world, we see pieces of their lives through the eyes of Peter, while simultaneously getting to learn about Peter's place in the world as well. As he grows, he comes to terms with his feelings for the same gender, but is still conflicted with what that means about how he views himself.The story moves quickly. I found it disorienting that each chapter was meant to be a significant leap forward in time, so there seemed to be a lot of unanswered questions about the other sisters, even though Fu spent quality time showing us their lives after they left home. They all, in their own ways, know what Peter is earlier and better than Peter himself knows what he is.In addition to the leaps through time, the ending of the story felt rushed and sudden to me. I knew where it was going throughout, and I'm glad Peter took the steps he ultimately did and was able to join his sisters the way she was meant to be, but for all of the tension throughout the story felt a bit anticlimactic in the end because it was just over.Still, for a debut novel, I have no other real complaints and would be interested in reading more books by Kim Fu because clearly there is a talent there. I am eager to see where her writing takes her from here.

  • Kathleen Bianchi
    2018-11-06 15:16

    I won this book from Book Browse. Other people who had read the book joined in a internet book discussion. The saddest time for me was that Peter never came out of the closet. He was almost 40. There are the words to a beautiful song named "For Today I Am a Boy". It is perfect for this book.

  • RubyTombstone [With A Vengeance]
    2018-10-31 17:17

    I enjoyed this book, but it was a very gentle read. Not that there's anything wrong with that - there just weren't a lot of peaks and troughs, with the tone being somewhat lighter than it could have been, given the subject matter. It's quite difficult to review a book that is more-or-less all about atmosphere.It actually reminded me quite a lot of another book I read recently, Ghost Tide, which was rather unfortunate timing on my part. The other book similarly focussed on the life of a Chinese boy who grew up knowing that he was in the wrong body for his true gender, and it had a similarly dreamy quality about it. While Ghost Tide was set in a Chinese village, and this book is set in a Canadian small town, there aren't that many major differences to set the two books apart in my mind. What this book lacks in the spiritual allegory of the other, it makes up for in other ways, mainly the portrayal of family relationships. The main character in this book, Peter, has oddly distant yet worshipful relationships with his three sisters, which I found both quirky and compelling. Peter's hero-worship of his older, cosmopolitan sister - the two of them on different continents, exchanging wordless post-packs of random photographs and artefacts - was quite poignant. Likewise, the ending was quite beautiful and unexpected. This is a solid novel about family relationships and identity, just not a particular stand-out for me.

  • Caitlin
    2018-10-19 20:17

    This review can also be found on my blog, leafandpage.Wow. Just wow.I started crying in the last few pages, and I have been on the verge of tears since. This was a beautiful book, it really was. It was heartfelt and sweet and tragic. There were so many wonderful, touching moments, and so many moments of hurt.I think what's important to note is that, while the main character is Trans, that is not ultimately what this book is about. It's crucial to the story, absolutely, it's extremely important and it undercuts every moment, every dialogue. But it's about more than that, too.It's about loneliness.While Peter's story is the central one, the one we follow, hers is not the only one we know. All three of her sisters suffer, for various reasons. Their parents, especially their mother. It's a book about isolation and feeling trapped-- in your marriage, in your town, in your job, in your body.And it's a book about people reaching out to each other. Not always successfully, but there is friendship and family and support. Sometimes that support is misguided or hurts more than it helps.Sometimes people can be wonderful and kind. Sometimes they can be terrible. And while this book has its flaws-- as some people have noted, it can sometimes be hard to follow exactly when we are-- but ultimately it was a beautiful book.

  • Anita Fajita Pita
    2018-11-16 16:53

    A short read about growing up in the wrong body. I found myself very moved by the simplistic presentation of Peter's feelings as he goes through life. There is a lot going on here: with the Chinese emigrant family in Canada, the culture "wash" enforced by their father, yet that same culture allowing for many restrictions in the home, and Peter's struggle with self. There's also a great cast of characters in the sisters, and the relationships between all the family members. A good read.

  • Red
    2018-11-05 16:06

    I wish a book like this had been around when I was young, could be heard screaming from the mountaintops of every reading list. There were actually, though maybe not on reading lists. If in my growing someone had put a copy of Jan Morris' Conundrum in my hands, would I have saved myself any sooner? Probably not. Reading For Today I Am a Boy (hereafter Boy) reminds that a lifetime of self-loathing makes for a rocky road to self-discovery.Boy makes my heart ache. It takes me back to those foggy 20 years I so often want to draw the blinds on. Ms. Fu captures moments from the lives of me and my friends with eery clarity. Both the parts that make for good copy (overcoming adversity!) and the less rosy parts (hating and working against people who have what you want). I finished it 24 hours after starting it, in part because it has been long enough since I came out that I had forgotten so many of these formative feelings. I wanted more! I have the scars, okay sure, but the woundings had been lost to me. While this makes my time with it sound like a masochistic free-for-all, I simply was hungry to feel that person who I was for so long. The me before me gets hazier all the time, and it's important to never completely forget the wall I scaled to get here.There is a moment when our lead finds a friend who doesn't raise an eyebrow at a young boy wanting the body of a fit, athletic woman. It is so infinitesimal a thing, and yet those teeny tiny instances of tacit acceptance/acknowledgement/understanding were all the table scraps my heart had to feed on for years. Trying on a garter I caught at a wedding, it tears, I decide instantly this means I'm too fat and that I'll only break any woman's thing I ever touch and that it's a sign and that I should never think about it again. And I throw it away. Memories, such memories kept coming back to me as I wolfed the book down.For people who haven't had these kinds of experiences, the book seems like it could be a lantern illuminating a rich mine of agonizing discomfort. Discomfort is one of this book's guiding stars. Not surgery, hormones, or any of the glitzy, ooh and ahhing material that people commonly associate with transition. Instead, the slow burn nightmare that precedes everything. That hot, awful, languishing sensation that drags on for years and the powerlessness we feel to stop it. The secret notion that it would be better to survive in safe misery than gamble with our life for a day in the sunshine. It is so difficult to capture gnawing lust paired with a ironclad abstinence without toppling the believability of a character's actions, but in Boy's lead I see it done.I'm struggling to switch from my heart to my brain long enough to explain why this is a four star book. Boy often chooses to tantalize rather than realize. So little dialogue is apportioned any character, the cast subsisting on a diet of unspoken desires, that it is often too mysterious why anyone does anything. You can call it the nature of the Huang family or you can call it showing and not telling, but less isn't always more. Or, when our main character finally meets others within the community, the events happen so fast that most of the issues raised dissipate as quickly as they form. There is also the rare but occasional burst of energy in the opposite direction, where the author seems to lose faith in her audience for a moment and explains too much. Such as a moment where, it is explained, the answer "Yes" in a given instance could refer to all of the previous options given or just one. These nitpicks stand out mainly because the book is so very tuned into its style and its mission that I was surprised to see the crack in the armor.I see myself coming back to this book a lot, for both the language is a pleasure and because it can take me on a travelogue through parts of my own life. Any gripes I have pale in comparison the wellspring of emotions it has unearthed for me, and I recommend it very highly. Thank you, Ms. Fu.

  • Bonnie Brody
    2018-11-07 19:52

    This is a book that I really wanted to like a lot. The topic interested me and I looked forward to reading it. However, I was disappointed with the book's choppiness and it's lack of depth in characterization. Most of the characters seemed like cookie-cutter personalities without a lot of development.The story is about Peter, born into a male body but feeling always like he is a girl. He wishes he was his lovely sister Adele or Audrey Hepburn. Peter's is born into a first generation Chinese family in Fort Michel, Canada. He knows little about his family's ancestry and they want him to assimilate. His father has forbidden his mother from speaking Cantonese in the house. He is the only boy of four children. His father wants him to be a 'boy's boy', into athletics and playing with male toys. This, however, is not Peter. His childhood days are most happy when he dresses in his sisters' clothes or puts on their make-up.Peter loves to cook and clean house. His mother works part-time some days and Peter rushes home from school, takes off all his clothes, and puts on his mother's apron over his nude body. He then cleans house while singing. His sister, Bonnie, is supposed to do the cooking but Peter loves being a chef and he cooks for her. They pretend that Bonnie did the cooking.The book is very fragmented and goes from scene to scene without much continuity. Characters are introduced and then not heard from again after a chapter or two. I found this disappointing. The message of the book is clear - Peter is transgendered and needs affirmation from life. "My real body was somewhere else, waiting for me. It looked like my sisters' bodies." However, the delivery of the message, through the words of this novel, are garbled and confusing. I liked some of Ms. Fu's writing and at times it could be beautiful. I attribute my disappointment to her youth and this being a first novel. I look forward to more mature writing in the future.

  • Katie
    2018-10-28 22:03

    Full disclosure: My educational background is in gender studies and I've focused quite a bit on trans studies. That's probably a huge part of why my mother-in-law (also a feminist with a major love of can lit) sent this novel to me as part of a birthday package (thanks, Shelley!). I saw a lot of myself in the John/Eileen characters at the end of the book--those privileged enough to come from accepting backgrounds, with access to copious amounts of theoretical literature and activist circles. Because of my own particular context, it was really enlightening to have a specifically 2nd gen Canadian (especially as the child of parents who were immigrants from China) perspective on issues of gender and sexuality. I forget that people with trans identities exist everywhere, and often in situations where they don't even have access to language that names aspects of their lives and selves. I really appreciated the exploration of how cruelty doesn't have to be obvious abuse, that the absence of love in the family of origin ripples out for the rest of one's life. The protagonist's process of becoming/unbecoming Peter and emerging as Audrey is distinctly different from traditional trans narratives -- very little time is spent on the physical transition, Audrey is a kernel of an ideal rather than a character for most of the story. My sole real criticism of the book echoes what many others have said -- I don't find that the story is served by the non-linearity. I think I can understand what Fu is trying to craft (the process of finding oneself is hardly linear, pain and fear tend to ricochet through life), but I found the time jumps very disorienting and at times frustrating. All in all, however, I would say this is a great piece of modern Canadian literature.

  • Nina
    2018-10-28 19:54

    You know when you finish a book and you're too overwhelmed or busy or Internetless to write a review and suddenly it's ten days later and you have no idea what to write anymore?Yeah.This book is all about atmosphere, and Fu does atmosphere like a fucking pro. It's suffocating and entirely too miserable to be fun, and at the same time it's incredibly vivid and colourful. It's a patchwork of memories and feelings, and they're not in any particular order that the reader can see, but that's probably why they work so well, slowly building a crystal clear impression of a life in your mind.I can't fathom Peter's way of life, because I'm unoppressed, integrated and comfortable in my own skin, yet I get it. And that speaks highly of Kim Fu's skill.The only thing I couldn't properly connect with is the final resolution, which pretty much came out of the blue even though it's the only possible ending. You'll expect it, but you'll still feel a little disoriented by the suddenness of its arrival.But it will make you feel at peace, and even though it won't erase all the pain of the years before it, it will make up for some of it. And that's really all you could wish for.

  • Mary
    2018-10-20 15:16

    This is not an in your face book about transexuality. It attempts to (and I think succeeds) in sharing what the daily experience is like when you are born in a body that society has so "gendered" that you never feel like the person you "are". For Peter, he has always been a "girl/woman", but he was born in an incredibly private, a word which doesn't even do the experience justice, Chinese family where he is the only boy. To Fu's credit, this is not a simple book of Dad hating/rejecting son, it's both more insidious than that and more tolerant than that. Peter is not the only one that feels rejected/apart from his parents, all three of his sisters do as well. And the consequences on their adult life are pretty dramatic. At the same time, we recognize how different life is for children from families who have been taught to examine their inner lives, to "be happy", to pursue their own dreams, a reminder that not all of us in the United States (or the world obviously) are given that perspective and choice.

  • Alyssa
    2018-11-10 19:13

    This book is... amazing. I love the style. The way it is written in the beginning, with time sliding around as real memories are recalled in our own heads, in order of significance and not of time. I love the depth. The way she repeats things before to mirror new things that happen, mirrors her own life against itself to create a hall of mirrors that shows the same character parading through so many walks of life. This book spoke to me so deeply. I felt guilty at some parts, for being a woman. It really made me appreciate and love my body, love being who I am. The message is so hard because the book ends before she has fully accepted herself. It is a long hard road to meeting your own expectations, and even longer to be able to shatter them and truly come home to yourself, realizing you never had anyone to impress all along. You are good enough. Embrace the truth of yourself.

  • Rena
    2018-10-24 19:07

    Initial Thoughts...I think it took Peter a long time to find where home was, but once she did, I was happy.Later Thoughts...I took me a long time to think about what rating I would give this book, For Today I Am a Boy, mostly because I had to let the story sink in. It's not a linear story, nor is it particularly easy to read Peter's tough journey from perceiving her identity as a child to becoming her authentic self as an adult. The book has its bright spots, though. And the ending is so satisfying.

  • Sara
    2018-11-02 19:15

    This book had a fairly loose plot, but it's basically the story of Peter, the only boy in a Chinese American family. His father expects him to be a man and has extremely high hopes and standards for him, but what Peter really wants is to be a girl. The story covers a few decades of his life, showing scene snippets here and there, and just kind of shows how his life unfolds.The writing in here was very polished. The author's bio notes that she has a MFA, and this writing degree shows. Clearly she spent a lot of time honing the words to this story and making it easy and quick to read. The main problem with this book, however, is that while the writing is very polished, it never actually tells an interesting story. The scenes were so short and jumped around that I never got a good grasp of any of the characters and really didn't care about them. There was absolutely no emotional connection to anyone or anything in here. Near the beginning of the book, Peter tells the reader that in elementary school, when he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, all he wanted to be was a mommy. This was basically the only indication throughout the book that he was struggling with conflicted feelings. Everything else was so detached, so superficial, that I never actually believed he felt anything. It was difficult for me to care about his plight when it barely seemed like Peter had any feelings for much of the story.In lieu of developing Peter's emotional journey, much of the book detailed experiences that Peter's family members had. These scenes weren't necessarily related to Peter's own story, or any sort of general plot, but seemed to exist only to fill the pages and show the reader more dynamics and perspectives inside of Peter's family. A few scenes were maybe interesting here and there, but they were completely unnecessary and ultimately forgettable because they didn't truly fit with the main theme of Peter's internal gender struggle.A lot of characters were introduced, featured in a few scenes, and then disappeared. No reason was given for their disappearance from the page, but I guess it was to show how people sometimes just disappear from your life. If this was indeed the purpose, it didn't make an impact. The story was incredibly fragmented and quite dull. It was also a fairly quick read, due in part to its fairly short length. It's too bad the book wasn't expanded to include more emotional scenes and less filler material. Regardless of how polished the writing is, if a book doesn't tell much of a story, it seems pointless.I feel like the author set out to tell the story of a girl born in a boy's body and the difficult journey this caused. Unfortunately, this book barely skimmed the surface of this theme and only seemed to details blips in the life of a family that I never quite got a handle on. Not terrible, but incredibly underwhelming.

  • Monika
    2018-10-30 17:57

    Originally posted on my blog, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall:Kim Fu handles the transgender perspective in For Today I Am a Boy with the utmost care. This is not a radical, explosive book meant to shock its audience. Instead, it centers on Peter's thoughts, feelings, and experiences as he tells us about his childhood, his loved ones, and his coming of age, in his own voice. There are a number of subtle but powerful moments that made me forget this is a work of fiction; much of the time it reads like a memoir.Fu attains the perfect balance between creating interesting, complex characters without turning them into clichés. Especially when it comes to Peter, this maintains the story's reliability."Who were these kids? What right had they to be born into a world where they were taught to look endlessly into themselves . . . To ask themselves, and not be told, whether they were boys or girls? You eat what's there or you starve."I was glad that Peter, with all the turmoil he faced, did have a few people in his life who completely accepted him without question, who didn't try to change him. I'm not sure how realistic that is for most transgender people, but it certainly added an element of hope throughout the story.Approached with sensitivity and free of stereotypes, For Today I Am a Boy explores how who we are (and the discovery of who we are) plays into our sense of self, the path we take in life, and our family dynamics. This is a coming of age story well worth reading.I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

  • Rich in Color
    2018-11-15 16:00

    Review copy: libraryI’ll be honest. I was hooked in by the cover design, which is gorgeous. (It looks even more beautiful in person.) When I read the description, I thought — I’ve got to read this. I read For Today I Am a Boy on a three hour train ride. When I got off the train, I still had the last quarter of the book to go, so I walked about the city in a daze, still reading.For Today I Am a Boy matches its cover — it’s beautifully written and utterly heartbreaking. The story of Peter’s life, from her childhood to her thirties, is told in a series of memories, conversations, and moments all woven together. While far from straightforward and linear, it’s still very easy to fall into the rhythm and flow of the story.At first glance, For Today I Am a Boy seems to be an issue novel about growing up as a transgender girl, but it’s not quite that. Though Peter yearns to be the girl she knows she is, the pressure and influence of her father forces her to conform to his standards of masculinity, even as her sisters’ flee from their father’s control. This is a story as much about sisterhood and culture as it is about gender identity.I would hesitate to say that For Today I Am a Boy is strictly Young Adult literature, but I wouldn’t call it adult literature either. (What defines YA lit, anyway?) That being said, the categorization is unimportant. For Today I Am a Boy is a beautiful and incredible read that I would absolutely recommend to just about everyone.Recommendation: Buy it now!Review originally posted at Rich in Color http://richincolor.com/2014/03/review...

  • Leah (Books Speak Volumes)
    2018-11-14 21:14

    The only son among three sisters in a Chinese Canadian family, Peter Huang is under enormous pressure to live up to his father’s ideals of Western masculinity. However, Peter struggles with his father’s expectations, for he knows in his heart that he is really a girl.This book wasn’t quite what I expected, but I don’t like it less for that. This is not an “issue” book about what it means to be transgender. It doesn’t contain gender theory or a deep internal struggle with identity. It’s about family relationships and the coming-of-age of a character who just happens to be transgender. Peter’s sexuality is just part of his character — like it is for all of us — and not a defining characteristic. I really appreciated Fu’s treatment of her narrator. In making Peter’s sexuality just one aspect of his character, she shows him the respect and empathy he deserves — that we all deserve. She makes him well balanced, relatable, and oh so human.I also loved how Fu portrays Peter’s relationship with his sisters. Their sibling relationships felt real, and as a family they have their ups and downs.I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to diversify their reading. For Today I Am a Boy is a fresh portrayal of a transgender boy growing up in a small-town Chinese Canadian family and later facing the world on his own in a major city.I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.Read the full review on Books Speak Volumes.

  • Jan
    2018-11-08 20:17

    I received this book free from goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review.I really wanted to like this book. And I tried, I really tried. I read a lot of GLBTQ books and am always eager to read any new ones that address any of those themes. So I enthusiastically entered the contest to win a copy of this new title. I'm sorry to say that I did not enjoy this book at all, nor can I recommend it. What didn't I like about it? I think the main reason, and this is always a big one for me in terms of whether or not I enjoy the book, is that I really didn't care for any of the characters or what happened to them. Peter and his sisters all seemed so one dimensional. Honestly, I was bored with all of them. I did feel for Peter whose traditional Chinese father wanted him to be such a "boy's boy", but instead had a son who knew from an early age that he was a girl just like his three sisters. But yet, I only cared in my head, not my heart, if that makes any sense. I think I just found the writing style flat; the kind that doesn't cause much feeling or sentiment from me at all. I must also note that I skimmed the last 50 or so pages, as I had been trying to get through the book for two weeks and was at a point where I just didn't care anymore and wanted it to be over with.

  • ida
    2018-10-29 15:17

    This is another hidden gem I found through Goodreads! I love discovering less known and AWESOME books that way!!I mean this book is about a trans character that's written by a cis person and I am also cis so I'm probably not the best person to judge these things but I think this book was written very tastefully and also realistic. (I'm going to use the pronoun 'she' because Peter was never a man) I think her inner struggles throughout her life and her isolation probably reflects what being trans is like for lots of people. I found this book absolutely beautiful. Peter's relationship with her sisters and being true to herself all while juggling her horrible dad and her strict Chinese upbringing. I also liked how the author didn't tell too much like many authors do; she left things for the reader to piece together themselves.

  • Meghan
    2018-10-21 19:54

    A coming of age novel about a boy in a Chinese immigrant family in Canada who knows he wants to be a girl. Growing up with three sisters, Peter envies different qualities about each of his siblings: Adele's Audrey Hepburn-ish elegance, Helen's drive, his younger sister Bonnie's careless confidence. His father is domineering and overbearing in his need for a son and for that son to be successful and not shame him. As Peter leaves home, moves to Montreal, and lives through his 20s and 30s, he experiences a range of experiences around shame and desire and repression. He loses almost all connection with his family. What will save him?

  • Sebastien
    2018-11-07 16:56

    A great book. Most of the reviews focus on the gender part. I felt like the immigrant and cultural angle of the story was at least equally as important. But I feel unable to write about it in a way that makes sense. So I will leave it to better reviewers.Whenever an English-language writer writes about Montreal, I find the story to nearly always perpetuate the two-solitudes stereotype, and this book was no exception, which I found to be extremely ironic in a book that was otherwise open about trans issues and the immigrant experience. I know the story was about Peter's experiences as a trans woman, and not so much as her linguistic journey as a transplant to Montreal. But it still grinds my gears. Pre-emptive disarming comment: just my two cents, people, and my opinion is probably worth less than two cents.Otherwise this was a great book and I devoured it quickly.

  • McKenzie (Bookishthingsandtea)
    2018-11-09 19:06

    NOTE: As the majority of the story is following Peter, I will use that name to reference the protagonist in my review. However, since Peter identifies as a woman, I will be using she/her pronouns. If you feel this is incorrect, please let me know! This article (https://thewalrus.ca/rise-of-the-gend...) brought to my attention by CW at Read, Think, Ponder highlights some of the stereotypical issues of trans found in For Today I Am A Boy, and I highly recommend everyone reads it.For Today I Am A Boy is an emotionally raw and powerful book that explores the life and upbringing of a Chinese trans woman. Raised in a family surrounded by three sisters, Peter is targeted by his westernized ideal obsessed father to be the “man” of the household. The story chronicles Peter’s struggle with expectations of masculinity, school bullies, and troubling friends and lovers.I would not say this is a book that I enjoyed, but it is a book that I will be eternally grateful for reading. Fu’s writing style truly highlighted the terrible upbringing that Peter suffered through, and how she was motivated to survive. Peter struggles with being forced into a life by her father and then haunted by his expectations, being cast off by her own mother, dealing with bullies in grade school and later in life, little self-esteem and feeling uncomfortable in your skin, and everything in between. This is the type of book that grabs onto your heartstrings and refuses to let go, no matter what.All of the characters present in the story are well fleshed out, and full of character who are not just stereotypes. Peter’s mother is frail and weak in the beginning, over shadowed by her dominating father. Yet, her mother blossoms and develops throughout the story. Her sisters were truly interesting to read. Adele, the oldest, lived a free life and broke her father’s expectations of becoming a doctor, but still suffers some consequences of her actions. Helen was the studious one, who lived the successful but ultimately extremely lonely life. Then we have Bonnie (who was the youngest child) who lived through a rebellious phase as a teenager, and could only find solace later in her life in Peter. Of course, Peter was also wonderfully fleshed out as we learned more and more about her fight with gender identity.In my mind, the book focused on loneliness and truly showed the impact of it. It was present in every aspect of the story. It was shown in Peter and her siblings childhood through the lack of love from their parents, Peter’s mother from being stuck in an abusive marriage, and through Peter herself when she returns to her apartment after work, sitting on the floor alone in her sister’s clothes. The feeling can be found anywhere, even when you’re surrounded by people and Fu demonstrated this perfectly.One of the only things that bothered me about the book was the snapshot way of telling Peter’s story instead of in a linear fashion. The majority of the book, I was extremely confused on where we were in her life, and how old she was. At times, it led to me feeling quite disconnected from the characters simply because I couldn’t tell where the story was going.Overall, For Today I Am A Boy is book that everyone should read. It’s an extremely diverse story that highlights the trials and tribulations of simply being different. It’s was one of the most powerful books I’ve read, and the impact of it brought me to tears. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this.