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Original Essays | August 21, 2014

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For Today I Am a Boy

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For Today I Am a Boy Cover

ISBN13: 9780544034723
ISBN10: 0544034724
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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. Peters 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.

Review:

"A unique and mesmerizing story populated with characters who are fragile and strong all at once, who invite us to become them as they struggle with who they ultimately are. An important and rewarding read." Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo

Review:

"For Today I Am a Boy is beautiful and captivating. Kim Fu reminds us that the human condition is one of change — of becoming, of overcoming — and this novel, in all its complexity, demonstrates how to do so with grace." Justin Torres, author of We The Animals

Review:

"[A] quietly forceful debut…[with] a redemptive trajectory that feels fully earned….Shot through with melancholy while capturing the bliss of discovering one's sexual self." Kirkus

Review:

"In this impressive debut, Fu sensitively and poetically portrays Peter's predicament so that readers feel his discomfort with his own body as well as his painful sense of yearning and the plight of his three sisters, who scatter in all directions to escape their unhappy home." Library Journal

Review:

"Fu's sharp eye and the books specificity of place (the Huang's live in small-town Canada, where Peters father does whatever it takes to fit in and the rest of his family lies to him) provide freshness....Although the focus is always Peter, Fu is adept at depicting the shifting alliances between him and his sisters, and at revealing how being an outsider shapes Peter's expectations and options, which adds another layer to the story." Publishers Weekly

Synopsis:

A fiercely assured debut novel about four second generation Chinese sisters, one of whom happens to be a boy.

About the Author

Kim Fu holds a master of fine arts from the University of British Columbia. She is twenty-five years old.

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

ahmadalbab, January 31, 2014 (view all comments by ahmadalbab)
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.
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The Lost Entwife, January 11, 2014 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
2014 is the year I've decided to take chances on things I read - to broaden my worldview and learn more about all of the different types of people who share the earth with me, even more than I've done in the past year. In order to do that, I have to also broaden my reading circle and For Today I Am a Boy is one of the books that I chose to read to do just that. Kim Fu's story follows a young boy who grows up with three sisters and struggles with his gender identity. Add into that the setting of Canada and the Chinese culture that is strong in his home due to having parents who were both born in China and it's an interesting mix.

There were things that Kim Fu did extremely well in For Today I Am a Boy. One of those things was giving Peter a voice - not just any voice, a voice that made me immediately sympathize with him. He struggled so much not only to understand his own gender-identity, but also to live up to the expectations of being the only boy in a family that values men so much. He grew up surrounded by sisters and in love with movies (my favorite, Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn) that played up the femininity of being a woman. Yet, Peter struggled to not only hide what he was feeling, but to find a place in the very male-dominated groups that he ended up in.

There is real heartbreak and sorrow in For Today I Am a Boy. There is a scene where Peter is involved in some very horrific activities involving a young girl and those activities are looked upon with pride by his father because it proves Peter's "manhood." Yet, not all is lost and the relationship of Peter and his father, while complicated, is not as bad as it could have been.

What I struggled with in For Today I Am a Boy ultimately boils down to the books length. Because of the limited number of pages (not even 300), Fu is unable to really explore some themes that crop up. The resolution of the story, as a result, seems like it was gypped - especially when the reader considers the build up to that resolution. I needed to see more healing, more exploring, and more movement toward the very last paragraph of the book which was shocking in its simplistic ending. Don't get me wrong, I don't disapprove of the ending, just the build up leading to it. I needed more because I had been so involved in the first half of the book that I felt like I'd been cheated out of the growth of Peter in the second half of the book.

Still, I think For Today I Am a Boy is an important step in the release of books that can help not only wreck stereotypes, but educate people on what is going on behind the scenes and what those who are struggling with being different are dealing with. I really felt a connection to Peter and I found myself firmly in his camp throughout the story.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780544034723
Author:
Fu, Kim
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20140114
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Coming of Age
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Cultural Heritage

For Today I Am a Boy New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$23.00 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - English 9780544034723 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A unique and mesmerizing story populated with characters who are fragile and strong all at once, who invite us to become them as they struggle with who they ultimately are. An important and rewarding read."
"Review" by , "For Today I Am a Boy is beautiful and captivating. Kim Fu reminds us that the human condition is one of change — of becoming, of overcoming — and this novel, in all its complexity, demonstrates how to do so with grace."
"Review" by , "[A] quietly forceful debut…[with] a redemptive trajectory that feels fully earned….Shot through with melancholy while capturing the bliss of discovering one's sexual self."
"Review" by , "In this impressive debut, Fu sensitively and poetically portrays Peter's predicament so that readers feel his discomfort with his own body as well as his painful sense of yearning and the plight of his three sisters, who scatter in all directions to escape their unhappy home."
"Review" by , "Fu's sharp eye and the books specificity of place (the Huang's live in small-town Canada, where Peters father does whatever it takes to fit in and the rest of his family lies to him) provide freshness....Although the focus is always Peter, Fu is adept at depicting the shifting alliances between him and his sisters, and at revealing how being an outsider shapes Peter's expectations and options, which adds another layer to the story."
"Synopsis" by , A fiercely assured debut novel about four second generation Chinese sisters, one of whom happens to be a boy.
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