Title: A Proper Young Lady
Author Name & Publisher: Lianne Simon (Faie Miss Press)
Publication Date & Length: December 18, 2015 — 227 pages
An M/I/F Sweet Romance.
A woman with the complete form of Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome might never discover that she has testes in her abdomen rather than ovaries and uterus. Danièle knows, and she grieves that she can never have her own children. She has a partial form of AIS that left her with ambiguous genitals, a steady stream of doctors and psychologists, and parents determined to see her happy as a girl.
After Danièle’s best friend and childhood crush agrees to have a baby for her, Danièle learns that the clinic can extract sperm from her own gonadal biopsies, and she becomes the father of Melanie’s baby herself.
Ethan adores the graceful young woman named Danièle, while Melanie imagines a life with the father of her child. Danièle? She’s happy with her intersex body—somewhere between princess and little boy. But in a black and white world, she must choose—once and for all—who she will be. And whom she will love.
There’s something ridiculously charming and fun about this book.
Danièle is the main star, an intersex person initially identifying as female, but not without internal conflict. Melanie is her childhood friend, who loves her but is ambivalent about gender and sexuality. In the 90s we would call this ‘romantic friendship,’ blurring the lines of both. It’s very sweet. And it has that youthful desperation everything is Important feel that comes along with New Adult Fiction.
It’s unrealistic, plot-wise. There’s drama and lies and things happening way too fast—a sense of urgency, and like I said, Importance. If you’re not open to flights of fancy and a bit of soap in your opera, this will be trying. For me, I couldn’t put it down.
The intersex elements are medically sound, and forgive me, interesting. The novel ably confronts questions without answers—what does it mean to be a girl with testes? What does it mean to have a clitoris but not a vagina? What does it mean to be intersex? What does it mean to be heterosexual and yet love what feels like the wrong gender? The characters have good hearts, which is nice to read about. Everyone’s doing the best they can.
Ultimately, I feel Lianne could strive for greater heights in her writing. She could go so much deeper into these conflicted feelings, reveal something rawer, and be much bolder about her conclusions. What this novel lacks is relatable, human truth. She’s obviously a gifted author. I hope in future works she allows her characters to exist, without apology or justification, in the real world.
There’s something there. I want more.
~C. E. Case
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