by Torrey Peters
🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺 (five stars as rated in flowers because for whatever reason this book just makes me feel like flowers)
Wow. Just… wow. What a spectacular debut. So much about this book blew me away and left me really questioning what I knew – or thought I knew – about gender dysphoria. Truth be told, I am still somewhat reeling from the experience.
Before I get into my review, I want to encourage everyone to read an interview with Torrey Peters in Vulture in January. I read this article before receiving my review copy of this book and I would say that it positively influenced my experience of the novel. I went into the book with a bit of apprehension precisely because the word “detransition” carries such a negative connotation in the cishet spaces. As is quoted in the article, “detransitioning is one of the topics transphobic people use against us.”
Now that I know you’ve all read the article… 👀👀👀 … it probably makes sense for me to admit that Detransition, Baby asks a lot of questions that made me super uncomfortable. I realized while I was reading that that was kindof the point. To be clear, my discomfort never stemmed from my having a problem with any of what was being rhetorically asked of the reader, but because I’m not at all equipped to answer any of this stuff! And that is not a position I love being in, though I’m admittedly working on it because, as a cis-het white woman who is woefully under-educated in anything relating to gender theory, I need to do more listening than speaking anyway! AND THAT is precisely why I felt it was important for me to read this book, and why I think it’s important that as many other cishet people as possible read it also. Torrey Peters wanted to “go there,” to ask the hard questions, to push the boundaries of what it means to transition, to be a woman, and to be a mother. And holy shit, did she ever succeed at that.
✨ Rep in this book: Transgender women, Asian female character, Queer family
✨ Content warnings for this book: homophobia, trans-phobia, dead-naming, outing, attempted suicide, physical assault, sexual violence, infidelity, divorce, abortion, medical stuff, toxic relationships
About the Author: Torrey Peters
Torrey Peters is the author of the novel Detransition, Baby, which will be published by One World/Random House in January of 2021, as well as the novellas Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones and The Masker. She also holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and a Masters in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth. Torrey rides a pink motorcycle and splits her time between Brooklyn and an off-grid cabin in Vermont. (Copied from the author’s personal website)
Personal note: girl on my reading experience
As can probably be ascertained by my previous comments, this book was hard for me. It isn’t a light read. In fact, it was a little tough for me to get through it and took about two months for me to finish (which is, frankly, rather embarrassing considering I received it as an advanced reader copy! Oof!) There are so many little things within its pages that deserve specific attention, and yet, Detransition, Baby isn’t a book that I feel comfortable dissecting. (Remember how I’m working on that whole shut-up-and-learn-it thing?) And, like I said before, I’m still kindof mulling over what all I just consumed. What I can tell you, though, is that this book is worth your time and then some. I want Detransition, Baby to get all the attention and win all the awards that it possibly can. It really is a phenomenal novel. And beyond that, it is an important and gloriously beautiful one.