I have never been much of a contemporary reader. I normally like to stick to my fantasy, and occasionally branch out to something such as thriller or historic fiction. But when my friend lended me the book Felix Ever After stating that it is a must read for, quote on quote, EVERYONE!, then I felt that I needed to give it a go.
Reading the blurb I did know it was going to follow a transgender protagonist who simply wants to find love, but I did not know I would be reading something that I could relate to even though I am neither transgender, queer, or black. The way Callender has written this book is breathtaking.
You meet Felix, a transgender male who always knew from a young age he was not a girl as he had been born. He wasn’t shy on stating that he was trans. He proudly wore his scars after surgery and did not shy when people asked him. That something itself I feel is so bold and powerful. To be comfortable with who you really want to be that you are unapologetic even with the remarks you can get from society. Then you meet Ezra, Felix’s best friend who is also a happy out and proud gay man. He loves putting on a display to show the world he loves who he is and is proud. It was so nice for the entire book to open with both Felix and Ezra being unapologetic with who they are and someone starring at them. But rather than the man on the train snarking at them, I appreciated that Callender decided instead for the man to praise them for who they were.
Then the book took a completely different turn. My heart wept for Felix when it was revealed his mother had left him, that he had done over four hundred drafted emails to her and had been too afraid to send even one. The idea that a parent would up and leave their child is wrenching to me, and I knew I was already rooting for Felix to get everything he wanted. But then the gallery where old photos before he transformed into his true self were leaked everywhere and the entire school now discovered his ‘deadname’ as he called it. I loved that it wasn’t the fact that he was being outed, he was proud of being transgender and wasn’t shy to admit it, but the idea that someone wanted to try and out him is what had me screaming for justice for him. I loved the support he got, from Ezra and other friends. And even though I did think his idea of revenge was a bit cruel to pretend to be someone else and catfish Declan, I couldn’t help but pray that he got the justice he deserved. I had a feeling even at the start it wasn’t Declan, but I felt Callender had another idea in store, and boy was I right!
To have him starting to fall for this boy who he believed hated him, to feel comfortable to start to open up and have him open up to him… it was so sweet and heart-warming to read. Especially with the first person he had liked called him a misogynist because he knew he was not a girl. I say DOWN WITH MARISOL! I was so glad when Ezra called her out and made her feel as little as she had made Felix feel. It was the perfect justice for people like that. But as someone who loves the storytelling, I loved how Callender used this motive. That there are people out there that aren’t even aware what they say could be racist, or homophobic, or in fact themselves a misogynist. Marisol still wasn’t aware what she had done that even when it was explained in black and white to her. She still believed it was ok to say those things, and it is sad to know in this world, there are many people out there just like her. It was a clever way to show it, and enlighten this issue. And I take my hat off to Callender for doing it.
Anyway, as the story continued to unfold and Felix was beginning to know what love could be like — something he had craved his whole life — I did not see the line of Declan saying that Ezra was in love with Felix. It happens now and then, when your not even aware and are blind to see what is going on around you. I myself have been in the situation where I wasn’t aware a friend had feelings for me, and I really resonated it with this. It did not matter that it was a different scenario, the way Callender wrote was perfect, because at the end of the day, it does not matter whether you are straight, gay, trans, whatever — love is love, and that is what we should be routing for. I just felt I was reading a story about love and acceptance, that here was a boy in love with his best friend. That is what storytelling is all about, and that’s how the world should see every love story.
But if we are going along the note of how powerful this book is, then I have to say I loved the use of Felix’s art. The fact that it was clear he could not get the inspiration because he was not comfortable with himself was so relatable. How many people struggle with accepting who they are? How many feel stuck because they don’t feel comfortable in their own skin? So once Felix finally discovered who he was, that he was a Demi boy and was proud to be, then it was the inspiration he needed for his art. Any form of creativity can be powerful, and the use of his self-portraits just proved how far he had come. From not knowing who he was, what gender he should associate with himself because society says we have to. Finally discovering his own acceptance and his own self worth and self love through his art. It was just beautiful to see, and so relatable even though I am not in Felix’s shoes.
The journey he makes, and when he realises he has loved Ezra for so long but he didn’t believe he deserved that type of love. How he held onto his mum but then realising he didn’t need her. Oh, when he was deleting all those draft emails… safe to say I got rather emotional. Then to thank Declan for proving that he could be loved. How many of us need that? For someone to just say that they love you, to prove that it is possible. Ok, it might not work out, but just to know your worth loving is sometimes all you need. And this example was stunningly done. Then that scene where he rushes to Pride, when he starts saying that these are his brothers and sisters, oh, I could feel that. But when he shouts to Ezra that he loves him, when he finally allows his heart to be filled with both love from Ezra and himself and the whole area erupts with cheers that he shouts his love for his best friend.
This book is exactly what my friend claimed it to be and more! This needs to be taught in schools, to prove that self acceptance is what truly matters. In this day and age we are so wrongfully told by society that we have to be one thing or the other. That we have to know what we want to do, who we want to be from a young age. But it is ok to always be second guessing, to not know what job you want to do, or who you want to love, or even what gender you want to be. The important thing is that you feel comfortable in your own skin, and even though I am a white, heterosexual female, I related to this book in so many ways that it is perfect to prove you just need to have love for yourself and you can accomplish anything you want.
Check out Felix Ever After