This novel by Canadian writer Kim Fu explores identity and the cost of trying to live up to other people’s expectations. Peter is the only boy among four children, the much longed for boy of parents whose Chinese roots favour the male child over females. It is a pity, then that Peter does not feel like a boy inside. His yearning is to be a girl. He looks at his sisters and wants to be just like them.
We learn about Peter’s journey to self- expression through a childhood of not fitting in to an awkwardness with the world as a young adult. His sisters take different paths and Peter as observer seems stranded, unsure of what he wants and how the world will receive him.
Novels about identity are appealing to me and, in this case, I understood the title to be a reference to the Antony and the Johnsons song. This is just as well as the cover of the UK edition is unappealing. Compare it to the Australian version (my favourite) and the Canadian version (not entirely successful, in my opinion, but at least an attempt to capture the subject matter).