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Choir Boy [Hardcover]

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Item description for Choir Boy by Charlie Anders...

Twelve-year-old choirboy Berry wants nothing more than to remain a choirboy, surrounded by perfect notes, as opposed to his imperfect, quarreling parents. Choral music and the prospect of divinity thrill him. Desperate to keep his voice from changing, he tries to injure himself, and then convinces a clinic to give him testosterone-inhibiting drugs. The hormone pills keep Berry's voice from deepening but also cause him to grow breasts. Suddenly Berry faces a world of unexpected gender issues that push him into a universe far more complex than anything he has experienced. A fantastical coming-of-age story, Choir Boy combines off-kilter humor and its own brand of modern day magic in a rollicking, bittersweet story about growing up different.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   320
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.35" Width: 5.75" Height: 1.26"
Weight:   0.97 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Apr 5, 2005
Publisher   Soft Skull Press
ISBN  1932360816  
ISBN13  9781932360813  

Availability  0 units.

More About Charlie Anders

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Charlie Anders is the author of Choir Boy and The Lazy Crossdresser. Her writing has appeared in Salon, the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. Charlie cofounded other magazine with Annalee Newitz and organizes the award-winning reading series Writers with Drinks.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Children > People & Places > Social Situations > Emotions & Feelings > Fiction
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
4Books > Subjects > Teens > Social Issues > General
5Books > Subjects > Teens > Social Issues > Homosexuality > Fiction

Reviews - What do customers think about Choir Boy?

A Good Read  Jan 4, 2008
An entertaining, sad, funny, swirling romp through, for me, the familiar (adolescence, choral singing) and the unfamiliar (transsexualism, psychiatric therapy). I was with Berry the whole way. The story is well-structured and had me riveted from beginning to end.
Nothing a few good editors couldn't fix  May 3, 2007
...but they didn't. Full of problems. This is a cute story that suffers terribly from bad writing. The characters are wooden, the dialog is forced and unlikely. Anders doesn't understand the management of time or space. The narrative is always disjointed and never flows well. It's hard to tell the characters apart, aside from by name, because really they don't have distinct personalities. OK, it's poorly written but it's still a nice story and approaches teen gender issues from a new direction. That's a worthy thing to do. I only wish he'd done a better job on the execution.
I love this book so much I could die  Jul 26, 2006
I don't want to give this book 5 stars, I want to give it a million stars. I want to give it every star in the firmament.

This is a book that refuses to stay in its box, about a kid who refuses to stay put in his box, in her box, in anybody's box.

I'm going to call it a transgender coming-of-age novel just to give you an idea of what you're getting into, but believe me, this book explodes its genre constraints just as forcefully as the narrator explodes his gender constraints.

I'm totally in love with this book.
Growing up Trans  Dec 17, 2005
Within the last year two titles have appeared that provide two very different approaches to discussion of the issue of transgender teenagers. Luna by Julie Anne Peters appeared in 2004 and was an Honor Book for the American Library Association GLBT Round Table's Stonewall Award in literature this past year. Luna is the brother of story's narrator, Regan. Regan's days and nights have revolved around Luna and now Regan is facing up to the fact that she has no life of her own and is becoming resentful.

Choir Boy takes completely different tact. Berry is thirteen years old and loves being in the choir at St. Luke's Episcopal Church. He loves the music and the atmosphere so much that he realizes he wants to remain a choirboy into adulthood. He does not want to change, to lose his magnificent voice after training for 8 years. So Berry does what any confused, scared, male might do in a comic setting. He gets himself to a clinic and quickly begins taking hormones and testosterone blockers. He just hadn't figured that breasts were part of the deal!

Choir Boy is a romp through a confused teenager's life. Berry's exploration, accidental or otherwise, of gender issues is laughingly real. Living half his life in the choir and the other half hiding in his room from his parents, Berry is, to say the least, naïve. Berry stumbles through life seemingly unawares of the steps he is taking until he completes them. It is a state of confusion and uncertainty that I remember well as a teenager, and I am sure exists today for many young adults. The book contains some basic exploratory sex scenes though nothing that hasn't been written about in other teen books. There is some action that make the title suitable only for high school or older kids, though these scenes are handled well and realistically by the author.

Choir Boy is focused on Berry. Berry displays all his inner workings for us to see and they are not always pretty or complete. Berry places himself out for the world to watch and the reader has a seat for the entertainment that follows. Not all adults will like Choir Boy simply because they believe teens should face emotional issues seriously and antiseptically. But I believe many teens will appreciate author Anders' honest approach to what Berry is going through. Teenage life is not always well thought through and the results are not always sensible and serious. Unlike the review in School Library Journal would have you believe, this title is definitely a must for high school and public libraries because it provides another view of growing up with trans issues on your mind.
Running With Transsexuals  Jun 12, 2005
CHOIR BOY owes, perhaps, more than a little to Augusten Burroughs’ Running With Scissors. Each is the story of a smart, self-sufficient kid living in a whacked-out world with abusively neglectful parents, a loopy psychiatrist, and plenty of statutory sex. Both books have a tone of dry, black humor as well. Of course, Burroughs insists his work is non-fiction, while Charlie Anders’s is imaginary. One questions the journalistic accuracy of Burroughs (to start with, he cops to fictionalizing names), and I am conversely driven to wonder how much of CHOIR BOY reflects the author’s actual childhood.

Although the novel comes with a liberal amount of kink, the innocent, pure sex is more exciting—a kid’s first kiss, the first time he gets to second base, a young boy’s first brassiere. The stuff with transsexuals, cross-dressing, prostitution, and a bottle of Viagra that causes serious mischief is pretty ho-hum, just as it is in the real world if those things don’t happen to be your particular cup of tea; ho-hum as they would be to a prepubescent kid.

As a post-operative transsexual woman myself, I can attest to the accuracy of the transgender aspects of the book. And, having had the pleasure of meeting Charlie Anders several times in some most interesting venues, I can understand how it is she knows all about it.

In a way, CHOIR BOY can be read as an overblown force-femme fantasy, but it is much more than that. It’s the Peter Pan story of a boy who doesn’t want to grow up, updated for the twenty-first century. It’s a coming-of-age story. It’s a story about the struggle to find and create our authentic selves, despite the external, conflicting pressures to be what everyone else wants us to be.

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