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A whipsmart debut about three women--transgender and cisgender--whose lives collide after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to confront their deepest desires around gender, motherhood, and sex. Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn't hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women cou A whipsmart debut about three women--transgender and cisgender--whose lives collide after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to confront their deepest desires around gender, motherhood, and sex. Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn't hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men. Ames isn't happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese--and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames's boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she's pregnant with his baby--and that she's not sure whether she wants to keep it--Ames wonders if this is the chance he's been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family--and raise the baby together? This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can't reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.


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A whipsmart debut about three women--transgender and cisgender--whose lives collide after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to confront their deepest desires around gender, motherhood, and sex. Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn't hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women cou A whipsmart debut about three women--transgender and cisgender--whose lives collide after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to confront their deepest desires around gender, motherhood, and sex. Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn't hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men. Ames isn't happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese--and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames's boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she's pregnant with his baby--and that she's not sure whether she wants to keep it--Ames wonders if this is the chance he's been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family--and raise the baby together? This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can't reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.

30 review for Detransition, Baby

  1. 5 out of 5

    Roxane

    I have mixed feelings about this novel. It is chaotic, well-written, deeply, gorgeously queer, messy, sexy, and it probes really interesting questions about womanhood, motherhood, fatherhood, queer parenting, the relationships we make and break. Some of the storytelling was too... indulgent is maybe the word I'm looking for, like, when you're in the groove as a writer, loving what you're writing, digging down into it, and you don't know where to stop. But that's okay! The title is masterful. This I have mixed feelings about this novel. It is chaotic, well-written, deeply, gorgeously queer, messy, sexy, and it probes really interesting questions about womanhood, motherhood, fatherhood, queer parenting, the relationships we make and break. Some of the storytelling was too... indulgent is maybe the word I'm looking for, like, when you're in the groove as a writer, loving what you're writing, digging down into it, and you don't know where to stop. But that's okay! The title is masterful. This is one of those books I suspect will be polarizing, but I enjoyed it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Morgan M. Page

    Detransition, Baby is, like its title, going to be a polarizing book. There is hardly a page that won't cause somebody, somewhere to clutch their own personal pearls. Torrey has written right into all the hardest, least comfortable, often cruellest parts of the culture war over gender, and nobody comes out looking good. But she does it with such an unparalleled humour, honesty, and grace that one cannot fault her. Discussing the book with a trans friend in her 70s, she described it as "a bit too Detransition, Baby is, like its title, going to be a polarizing book. There is hardly a page that won't cause somebody, somewhere to clutch their own personal pearls. Torrey has written right into all the hardest, least comfortable, often cruellest parts of the culture war over gender, and nobody comes out looking good. But she does it with such an unparalleled humour, honesty, and grace that one cannot fault her. Discussing the book with a trans friend in her 70s, she described it as "a bit too 'not in front of the cis,' but in a good way." Detransition, Baby is about two and a half women, a baby, what it means to be a mother, and, ultimately, about the strange paths heartache leads us down. She had me in stitches the whole way through, even as I myself occasionally recoiled from just how much of our collective ass she was putting on display. A truly seismic debut.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    Well, I can see why Detransition, Baby is getting a lot of buzz. It's a timely, provocative read that never shies away from the tough subjects. The writing was not always my cup of tea - more on that in a second - and I think it has some of that chaotic messiness that seems to be characteristic of a lot of debut novelists, but excuse me while I use a cliche marketing term and say: Peters seems like one to watch. This is a not a plot-driven novel; it is a detailed character study of two trans wome Well, I can see why Detransition, Baby is getting a lot of buzz. It's a timely, provocative read that never shies away from the tough subjects. The writing was not always my cup of tea - more on that in a second - and I think it has some of that chaotic messiness that seems to be characteristic of a lot of debut novelists, but excuse me while I use a cliche marketing term and say: Peters seems like one to watch. This is a not a plot-driven novel; it is a detailed character study of two trans women. Reese, who is navigating her way through a series of bad relationships, while all she really wants is a chance to become a mother, and her ex Amy/Ames, a now detransitioned trans woman who just found out (s)he got another woman pregnant and is uncomfortable with the term "father". It explores a lot of Reese and Amy's pasts and presents, through their relationships, their sexualities and sex lives, and their innermost thoughts and fears, mainly about womanhood and motherhood. I felt that some of the writing was indulgent, and thought Roxane Gay summed it up well in her review. There are a number of examples I could use, such as: The butcher-block craftsmanship became for Reese an absurd-but-serious mental marker of a female bourgeois heterosexual temporality forever beyond her envious grasp: When a woman reaches a certain point in her thirties, she looks around and finds a good dining set with which to settle down. Reese is a veteran of the horrific social gore that results when individuals fight personal battles with unnecessarily political weaponry on a queer battlefield mined with hypersensitive explosives. The author sometimes gets a bit carried away with her adjectives and adverbs, in my opinion. There is also one part of the book where Ames attempts to use South African elephants as an analogy to explain his/her feelings and it goes on for several very long pages. Still, I took a lot from this book. I didn't know, for example, that "transgender" is an umbrella term the CDC came up with when they were categorizing people with HIV. Peters' preferred term throughout is simply trans, or transsexual where appropriate. I was also surprised by Amy/Ames' comments on autogynephilia, which I always took to be a transphobic label. Here, (s)he defends it in a way, prompting me to go do a bit of outside reading on the subject (though I did have to roll my eyes when Amy/Ames cites porn as evidence of what cis women want sexually, lol). I saw some reviews complaining about unlikable characters, and they are, to be fair. They are unlikable in the way any truly complex, flawed character is unlikable. Some of their thoughts are discomfiting, especially their internalized misogyny, though I mostly felt compassion towards them. I do wish more time - and more of a challenge, honestly - had been given to some of Reese's unhealthy views on womanhood. Detransition, Baby gave me a lot to think about. Some people said it was funny, which I didn't get, and sexy, which I also didn't see. There was certainly a lot of graphic sex, but most of it struck me as depressing-- either a response to hurt, or else a seeking of it. Amy, who had almost no genital dysphoria, was happy to put Reese on her knees or fuck Reese in the mornings-- the kind of vanilla affirmations that Reese needed. Rather, I found it a moving character portrait of two very complicated and fascinating people. I have questions still-- such as why the fuck Ames would ever think it appropriate to invite Reese to be a second mum to his/her unborn baby without first consulting the mother actually carrying the child --but I guess these are minor(?) points. I hope Peters writes more. Warnings for transphobia, misogyny, suicide, HIV/AIDs phobia, abuse, and abortion.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    4.5 stars. Often when I'm reading I am already thinking about how a book is making me feel, about how I would describe it to someone. Basically I'm already formulating my review in my head. Then I'll sit down at my computer, as I am right now, to form these thoughts into something fuller and more coherent. But I am not sure I'll be able to do that for this book because eventually I stopped thinking about how to describe it to another reader and just enjoyed it for my own self. So sorry, other re 4.5 stars. Often when I'm reading I am already thinking about how a book is making me feel, about how I would describe it to someone. Basically I'm already formulating my review in my head. Then I'll sit down at my computer, as I am right now, to form these thoughts into something fuller and more coherent. But I am not sure I'll be able to do that for this book because eventually I stopped thinking about how to describe it to another reader and just enjoyed it for my own self. So sorry, other readers, all I've got for you today is just how much I fucking loved this book. I am, I admit, biased. Biased twice over, really. First, I am a divorced cis woman which means this book is dedicated to me. Not me personally, just us as a group. And I get it. I love divorced cis women, not all of them, but there's a definite set of qualities you tend to find in us that I gravitate towards. Divorce isn't the only way to get there, as Peters notes, but it is one of the most common ways in which the entire system you've been operating under disappears and you have to build your own new way of living in the world. Peters sees transition as something similar and I think she's right. I've also found it with other people like me who grew up very religious. There is a certain cynical hardiness we all have that covers a deep awareness of our own vulnerability. When you are this kind of person and you find another one, there is an immediate kinship. And that is how I felt reading this book, too. That I'd found my people in a kind of way. Second I'm a queer person reading this book, and I would bet an awful lot of money that it will read very differently to straight (by which I mean non-queer) audiences. This is the way we talk to each other. This is the messiness we reveal to each other. These are our fights and philosophical disagreements and tactics. There is no performance of normalcy for straight eyes, no need to put on our best rainbow colors, no need to worry about how we are read by people passing by. Every time I opened this book I relaxed a little. The focus is on white trans women, but any time I see a queer community depicted honestly it is just like seeing another branch of my family tree. And that is really what I have to say about this book. Because outside of those feelings, I just sat back and relaxed and had fun. For other queer folks, you either immediately read the title as a joke or a threat, which tracks for the book as a whole. It is not afraid to push at these things, it can't be, with a detransitioned person as one of its central characters. If that worries you (it worried me!) don't worry. As we dive into Amy/Ames's detransition it is a sympathetic portrait but one with a very definite point of view. This person is still a trans woman no matter how they present themselves to the world, and the choice to detransition here is how it generally goes in real life, that it happens out of fear rather than a feeling that it was a mistake. This is a book with a strong point of view about queer and trans life, especially how they are for people of a certain age at a certain time. And that point of view includes the messy stuff. The toxic relationships, the mindfuck of gender performance, the creeps and chasers, and the funerals. Peters doesn't hang you out to dry here, she tells you exactly how this works, it is a cultural explainer at times, but it never feels like one. Because you are so deeply attached to Reese and Ames that you welcome the insights they have towards themselves and the world around them. What could be more wonderful than spending time with some queer folks who are self-aware enough to understand how messed up their choices are? It is wonderful and it's also terrible. I cried a lot, I won't lie. The pain of transition, the many cuts trans women experience every single day both internally and externally, are not the main subject here but Peters makes no attempt to hide them. She integrates them into Reese and Amy's lives because that is simply how it is. She lets them mourn and grieve and suffer because it is impossible not to in this moment in this world. But I wouldn't put this in the pile of books where I generally put in a Queer Suffering warning. I save that for the ones where the suffering is The Point, and that's not it here. Here we are wrapped up in the suffering and the melodrama and the wit and the keen, clawing instinct to survive. And now I feel silly that it's taken me this many paragraphs to tell you how funny this book is, how much I laughed. Apologies. Anyway. There are more paragraphs here than I anticipated. But I suspect it is still just a pile of feelings that I've thrown at you and I'm not going to apologize that because I enjoyed it all so very, very much. I suspect reviews will use words like "bold" or "brave" because that is often what happens when marginalized people write honestly about their own experiences. It is certainly a book that is not afraid and it wants you to know that. It looks you right in the eye and dares you to contradict it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    This is a beautifully written, heartfelt and original book whose characters really got into my heart. I recommend it to absolutely everyone, but especially to LGBTQ folks and people who love LGBTQ folks, or to anyone who wants to be educated and enlightened while also laughing a lot. The book follows Ames, a person genetically assigned male at birth, who transitions to female and then back to male again - hence the title, “Detransition, Baby.” This is a story I’ve never seen told before in fictio This is a beautifully written, heartfelt and original book whose characters really got into my heart. I recommend it to absolutely everyone, but especially to LGBTQ folks and people who love LGBTQ folks, or to anyone who wants to be educated and enlightened while also laughing a lot. The book follows Ames, a person genetically assigned male at birth, who transitions to female and then back to male again - hence the title, “Detransition, Baby.” This is a story I’ve never seen told before in fiction and it is told here beautifully with so many layers of complexity and experience that I had never considered. I would never have guessed, for example, the complexity and heartbreak of some of the reasons Ames had for transitioning back. It’s also the story of Reese, a trans woman who is a funny, caring and beautiful character who I completely fell in love with. This is not always an easy read, dealing with important issues like suicide, abuse of trans people especially women, matters of the heart, and what it means to be a family. But even as you are having your heart broken over these characters, you are laughing, and identifying with the, throughout. This is an entertaining, lovely, and important book. It will not be for everyone, but it should be. Thank you to Random House, Torrey Peters and NetGalley for the ARC of this beautiful and funny book. 4.5 stars rounded up for beautiful writing and pure heart.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    huge Caleb Gallo energy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    “Detransition Baby” sparked my interest because I don’t know much about the transgender world. Author Torrey Peters is a transgender female and who better to pen a novel about transgenders? Her characters are real, flawed, loveable, and frustrating. Peters adds biting humor making the story a tragicomedy of the human condition. The story revolves around three characters. Ames is a male who detransistioned from a female. Ames, formally known as Amy, went to great lengths to transition into Amy. W “Detransition Baby” sparked my interest because I don’t know much about the transgender world. Author Torrey Peters is a transgender female and who better to pen a novel about transgenders? Her characters are real, flawed, loveable, and frustrating. Peters adds biting humor making the story a tragicomedy of the human condition. The story revolves around three characters. Ames is a male who detransistioned from a female. Ames, formally known as Amy, went to great lengths to transition into Amy. We get an inside view of the hormones, the work, the effort that trans people go through. After a tragic incident, Amy gave up her new gender and detransitioned back to a male. Ames was told that after taking all the hormones, he would be rendered infertile. So, it was a surprise when he found out he had impregnated his girlfriend, Katrina. Katrina is a cisgender (a person who identifies with their birth sex) and didn’t know that Ames used to be Amy. Once she discovers this bit of information, she is conflicted about keeping the baby for a variety of reasons. Katrina is reeling from a divorce and a previous miscarriage. Becoming pregnant again and finding out that Ames used to be a woman is overwhelming. Reese is a transgender female, the former lover of Amy. Reese is my favorite character. Her inner musings are hilarious. Her life, however, is no easy picnic in the park. She has the problem of many women, and that is being attracted to creepy guys. She seems to love married men who abuse her, which is sad because she really is a great person. Reese is Amy’s one who got away. Reese feels Amy sold out to become Ames and Ames gender is and always be female. After Ames discovers he could become a father, he immediately thinks of Reese. Reese, to Ames, would be the perfect parent. She has all the right parental attributes. So, he devises a plan in which the three of them would parent the baby. Ames sells the idea to both Katrina and Reese. Peters does a fabulous job of exploring gender stereotypes. All three of the characters are complex, but it is Reese who ruminates about how cis women irritate her yet she’s trying so hard to be exactly like them. Reese is disgusted with Ames for detransitioning, but once we learn the events that led up to that decision, we empathize with Ames. This is a story of the human condition, flaws and all. The characters are real, and their struggles are identifiable. I hope Peters writes more novels.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Imogen

    Wow, I have been feeling emotionally fucked up for the two days it took to read this. I would recommend it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hal Schrieve

    I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss+. Torrey Peters, author of The Masker and Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones, hops into Big Press level literary fiction with a novel about divorce, lesbianism, chasers, trauma, pregnancy, and queer parenting-- with all the specificity, emotional intelligence, and punch that anyone could possibly expect. The plot-- that a detransitioned trans woman, Ames, gets his boss pregnant, confesses his trans past, and then asks his lover to coparent the baby wi I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss+. Torrey Peters, author of The Masker and Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones, hops into Big Press level literary fiction with a novel about divorce, lesbianism, chasers, trauma, pregnancy, and queer parenting-- with all the specificity, emotional intelligence, and punch that anyone could possibly expect. The plot-- that a detransitioned trans woman, Ames, gets his boss pregnant, confesses his trans past, and then asks his lover to coparent the baby with his ex-girlfriend, lonely thirtysomething "trans elder" Reese-- sounds like the blurb for a High Maintenance episode. Oh, a flip reviewer somewhere sighs: could it be any more hipster Brooklyn, more queer and cutting edge? But oh, is it gripping. I like to think that there's a way to dish about the specifics of trans community for a scandal-hungry, sex-starved cis readership while also preserving authenticity for trans readers, and if there is in fact a way to do that, Peters is really good at it. This is a novel that plays by all the structural rules of a compelling cerebral bougie straight-divorce drama-- think FLEISHMANN IS IN TROUBLE, maybe, or perhaps something by Helen Oyeyemi. Ames and Reese's past lesbian relationship and Reese's past infidelity keeps coming up, and it ends up plugging into the heart of the mystery of why Ames detransitioned. Meanwhile, Ames' current love for Katrina, a cis woman, mingles with his anxiety about fatherhood and Katrina's feelings of grief for her past divorce and miscarriage. Everyone behaves badly sometimes, and the reasons are compellingly almost-fathomable. Is Ames checked out because he's dissociated out of his fucking mind and needs to transition again, or just because there is little sympathy or emotional support for the trauma he's experienced? Is Reese unable to engage earnestly with the people closest to her because of transphobia and trauma, or because she refuses to recognize that she is also capable of inflicting emotional harm on people she loves? Is Katrina an opportunist seeking relief from her divorce in the promise of queer parenting, or a woman whose options in intimacy have been curtailed for so long that she finds it hard to admit what she really wants? Peters uses a precise, reserved tone and time skips aplenty to help the reader excavate what exactly is wrong in her characters' lives, and there are enough leaps between subjectivities to show that nobody is only a victim, only traumatized, only deluded. It's the kind of compassion and needle-sharp prodding that, when combined, leaves a reader both squeamishly uncomfortable and giddy with delight. One of the book's best contributions to lit-fic is a serious engagement with the questions of shame and desire among trans people. Reese, traditionally addicted to straight chaser doms with a flair for both sexual sadism and emotional abuse, finds relief in Amy for years before cheating on her with Stanley, a man that once physically assaulted her. Reese's analysis of chasers and the agency of the chased in seeking out someone who desires them but might harm them is a take not yet fully articulated in literary fiction. Like, yes, there is a tradition of this trope in sad fiction about sad trans women-- it is one of the tropes of the tragic trans woman that she cannot escape this kind of man. Little Shop, anyone? But Reese, unlike Audrey, has choices: the fun, tricky, devilish stuff in here is about the fact that she is probably able to recognize and avoid the kind of harm the men she is attracted to may give her, and part of her sexual thrill comes from the fact she actively desires the option for victimhood that they present to her--and the option for engaging in a relationship where she can hate her lover with impunity. What does that mean for the men in her life? Stanley is an abusive control freak, and of all the characters is pretty one-dimensional; his successor, who is simply called the cowboy, is allowed to be a little more complex. The cowboy, an HIV-positive man who is cheating on his wife, plays sexual games with Reese related to her own desire to mother, and fulfills a need she has to feel appreciated, cared for, and loved, even as he is unable to take her anywhere that his friends or wife will see her. He needs something in her; he is afraid to get it elsewhere. Reese is embarrassed by how much she loves him. There are also discussions of the ways trans women who are not yet out can also be chasers, and pursue/use the women they really want to be, sometimes worse than cis men can. There are basic questions of infidelity and accountability here, but also a hot-button issue: is it wrong to be "transamorous," to have desire specifically for trans people's marginalized bodies and subjectivities as an outsider? Is it any better if you yourself are trans? As trans people, what is our relationship to the people who desire us most fervently-- and if we seek out people who harm us, who can we realistically blame? What if we simultaneously harm each other just as badly? There's a question going around that asks: is it wrong to not engage with trans people honestly, to admit desire for them and engage with how you are embodying it? Peters suggests that this is a problem for more than just trans people. Peters' subsequent engagement with both trans women's position as victims of violence and oppression and as people with agency who make a variety of sexual choices to navigate a complicated world is, to put it lightly, thrilling. As is, admittedly, the range of characters we see navigating embodied lives. How great and horrible for a closeted trans girl or questioning person to pick this up and read it! The most delicious question I want to ask about this book, after reading it, is: what white trans queer in Brooklyn is ready to have our shit torn open like this? It is white trans spaces, after all, that are mostly being told on-- there is an interesting aside from Ames at one point about how many trans women of color have mothers and family structures to live within, or at least a tradition of this, while white trans women have a different relationship to elders, entitlement, shame, and rage. The truth of this is up for debate--one of Peters' excellent qualities is noticing when things are a matter of opinion or position, and Katrina calls Ames out on it. The larger scene, though, is point for point and almost location for location. Here we are with a FTM motorcyclist telling everyone how his ex has a slew of personality disorders; here we are as people dish at a funeral (with quips that people aware of context will realize are about real deaths and fallouts after); here we are at Riis, as queers stand agape at an act of public self-harm; here we are at the trans girl picnic, the bar where a trans girl is talking about her parents while DJ-ing, the meltdown at McCarren Park with a rich guy in an SUV in attendance....there's a snarky bit about Laura Jane Grace's memoir that elicited the most gleeful cackle. Likewise, there's some edgy asides about a certain kind of cis woman who would really like to be queer, if it were only possible, and the capitalist sound baths and essential oil sprees they may embark upon in their journey. Is this book funny? Yes, deeply. A roller-coaster of in-jokes for trans people, I feel sure that it will thrill cis people in a not-only-voyeuristic way. I also felt my guts being scraped out a lot as I went along for the ride-- after all, there is nothing like an intelligent, witty novel about the ways people can harm those close to them to make one reflect on the real relationships splayed out all around oneself, and see how one is handling everything, or how things one thought were new aren't new. Is anyone ready for this kind of literary fiction to exist? We'd better be!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    As cool and interesting as the title of Torrey Peters' Detransition, Baby makes the book sound, the story it portends is much less interesting. Reese is a trans woman in Brooklyn struggling with understanding her place in the world. The trans woman community is without elders - an effect of the high death rates of trans women, and Reese, who desperately longs to be a mother, can't find a meaningful romantic partnership with anyone but abusive cis men. Ames - formerly Amy, and before that James, As cool and interesting as the title of Torrey Peters' Detransition, Baby makes the book sound, the story it portends is much less interesting. Reese is a trans woman in Brooklyn struggling with understanding her place in the world. The trans woman community is without elders - an effect of the high death rates of trans women, and Reese, who desperately longs to be a mother, can't find a meaningful romantic partnership with anyone but abusive cis men. Ames - formerly Amy, and before that James, - bursts back into Reese's life (after their heart-wrenching breakup and his own detransition away from being a trans woman). Ames, who is sleeping with his new boss, Katrina, and who is about to become a father with Katrina, proposes that Reese come on board as a mother for their baby: a queering of the possibility of parenting. Detransition, Baby is an informative and essential book for the voice it provides to trans women characters about their own lives and experiences. But the book achieves this through the use of flat, cliche characters and a voice that borders between twitter humorist and twitter preachy. While these things might be enjoyable to read in blips online, they make the story much less powerful than it otherwise might have been.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Schulman

    This novel is both unimaginable and entirely inevitable-a highly readable work of up to the minute NY trans consciousness with tremendous insight into the modern bourgeois trans woman's POV. Sophisticated and in-the-know (references range from Werner Herzog to Riis beach) - reminds me of Zaina Arafat's novel YOU EXIST TOO MUCH - also by an author with an MFA from Iowa, also bridging the boundaries of an under represented community and Chick-Lit. The plot is the only kind of blah thing about it ( This novel is both unimaginable and entirely inevitable-a highly readable work of up to the minute NY trans consciousness with tremendous insight into the modern bourgeois trans woman's POV. Sophisticated and in-the-know (references range from Werner Herzog to Riis beach) - reminds me of Zaina Arafat's novel YOU EXIST TOO MUCH - also by an author with an MFA from Iowa, also bridging the boundaries of an under represented community and Chick-Lit. The plot is the only kind of blah thing about it (and I would have removed the comma between the words Detransition and Baby)- but the characters' relationships and extended experiences, interior lives, social and emotional whirls intelligently and honestly convey the new reality for the graduated-from-Brown-in-relationship-with-a-waitress trans generation. The speed of change conveyed by the perspective and the publishing context for this book are reflected in the novel's wicked two chapter juxtaposition. First we follow a character's youthful first venture into a "Glamour Boutique" to purchase trans/cross dressing accoutrement in a spare shopping mall with a sleazy pick up in a dead-end town. Then a few pages later we are at a reception for the GLAAD awards, and that really sums it up. From the scrappy founding of Topside Press and the creation of a grassroots audience for trans literature, to this savvy literary novel that anyone could enjoy in an airport- we've come a long way...Baby. Torrey Peters is sharp, smart, honest in the ways that bring characters to life, and shows her teeth. Long career to follow, I hope.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Jayyn

    🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺 (five stars as rated in flowers because for whatever reason this book just makes me feel like flowers) I was given a free review copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Wow. Just... wow. What a spectacular debut. So much about this book blew me away and left me really questioning what I knew - or thought I knew - about gender dysphoria. Truth be told, I am still somewhat reeling from the experience. Detransition, Baby asks a lot of questions that m 🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺 (five stars as rated in flowers because for whatever reason this book just makes me feel like flowers) I was given a free review copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Wow. Just... wow. What a spectacular debut. So much about this book blew me away and left me really questioning what I knew - or thought I knew - about gender dysphoria. Truth be told, I am still somewhat reeling from the experience. Detransition, Baby asks a lot of questions that made me, frankly, super uncomfortable - though, I realize that that was kindof the point. To be clear, my discomfort does not stem from my having a problem with any of what was asked, but because I'm not at all equipped to answer! And that is not a position I love being in, though I'm admittedly working on it... I am a cis-het woman who is woefully under-educated in anything relating to gender theory. Which is precisely why I felt it was important for me to read this book. Torrey Peters wanted to ask the hard questions, to push the boundaries of what it means to transition, to be a woman, and to be a mother. And holy shit, did she ever succeed at that. I will admit that this book was hard for me. It isn't a light read. In fact, it was super tough for me to get through and took about two months for me to finish. There are so many little things within its pages that deserves attention, and yet, Detransition, Baby isn't a book that I feel comfortable dissecting. Because sometimes it's better to just shut up and learn it. And, like I said before, I'm still kindof mulling over what I just consumed. What I can tell you, though, is that this book is worth your time and then some. I want Detransition, Baby to get all the attention and win all the awards. It really is a phenomenal novel. Content warnings for this book: homophobia, trans-phobia, dead-naming, outing, attempted suicide, physical assault, sexual violence, infidelity, divorce, abortion, medical stuff, toxic relationships

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    i don't think i've read a book so painfully and almost resentfully open to nuance and difficulty, which of course, i adored - at every turn, detransition, baby rejects the chance to go soft, go easy. instead, it goes pretty fucking hard for 350 pages. i can't help but deeply admire and love a book that so prioritises the coexistence of bitchiness and tenderness, especially when its so concerned with (ugh, not to be like, 'this book is so important') such essential and complex questions. it crack i don't think i've read a book so painfully and almost resentfully open to nuance and difficulty, which of course, i adored - at every turn, detransition, baby rejects the chance to go soft, go easy. instead, it goes pretty fucking hard for 350 pages. i can't help but deeply admire and love a book that so prioritises the coexistence of bitchiness and tenderness, especially when its so concerned with (ugh, not to be like, 'this book is so important') such essential and complex questions. it cracked me open! i can't wait for everyone to read it - it started a thousand questions inside of me, made me laugh and made me cry - i want to discuss this book with everyone i know. it's pointy and dense and fun, destined to hit a thousand raw nerves. so excited to follow torrey peters down any road she wants to take me down. thank you to netgalley for this free arc!

  14. 4 out of 5

    lottie

    I feel like I've been hit by a bus I feel like I've been hit by a bus

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sage Agee

    *Received an advanced reader copy from Netgalley for a review! I have a lot of feelings about this book— wow! The way Torrey Peters writes this nuanced experience of being trans femme (specifically being a white trans woman) is raw and honest in a way that brings validation to an experience that I think a lot of trans folks have. The story/plot is also really honest. Three people coming together over the idea of raising a baby in an unconventional way. The topic of queerness in family dynamics i *Received an advanced reader copy from Netgalley for a review! I have a lot of feelings about this book— wow! The way Torrey Peters writes this nuanced experience of being trans femme (specifically being a white trans woman) is raw and honest in a way that brings validation to an experience that I think a lot of trans folks have. The story/plot is also really honest. Three people coming together over the idea of raising a baby in an unconventional way. The topic of queerness in family dynamics is explored in a way that isn’t dramatized, stigmatized, or romanticized. It’s hard to navigate, and Peters brings this struggle to life with such a delicate blend of the present and past. Shaping potential parents while they each come to terms what it actually means to be (or not be) one. Also it’s FUNNY! Reese is such a cynical character and I love her so much. Especially the irony of Wim Hof. And the juvenile elephant analogy. Torrey Peters’ brain is so outstanding. CW: transphobia, suicide, miscarriage, accidental pregnancy, abuse, abusive relationships

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    What it has: Queerness and lots of it. The queerest conversations and situations that I've ever read. It's breathtaking and groundbreaking. I ate it up. What it doesn't have: A plot. Or even a real point. An editor. A sense of urgency. What it has: Queerness and lots of it. The queerest conversations and situations that I've ever read. It's breathtaking and groundbreaking. I ate it up. What it doesn't have: A plot. Or even a real point. An editor. A sense of urgency.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    goddamn this was fucking excellent. one or two minor issues (the readiness with which katrina initially goes along with ames’ plan felt a little inauthentic; at times the author’s seeming need to argue or articulate a point kind of transcended the characters’ actual voices) but overall this was so witty and sharp and there were so many insights - mostly about gender and sex and parenting - that really really hit home for me. the characters are assholes a decent amount of the time, but they’re as goddamn this was fucking excellent. one or two minor issues (the readiness with which katrina initially goes along with ames’ plan felt a little inauthentic; at times the author’s seeming need to argue or articulate a point kind of transcended the characters’ actual voices) but overall this was so witty and sharp and there were so many insights - mostly about gender and sex and parenting - that really really hit home for me. the characters are assholes a decent amount of the time, but they’re assholes in really complex and relatable ways, and i appreciated those imperfections for how real they felt. it was really great and fresh too to have a story about trans womanhood that highlights the gulf between well-intentioned online activism and the real lived experiences of actual trans women (albeit fictional) - when the narrative engages with the idea of twitter activism it’s often cynical if not outright disdainful, and while it’s not really my place to agree or disagree with that assessment it was a timely reminder that the lives of marginalised people are too often reduced to buzzwords and virtuous outrage in ways that can absolutely strip them of their depth and complexity. also as a final aside the phrases ‘tumblr-twitter industrial complex’ and ‘for sale: baby UGGs, never worn’ pretty much killed me dead

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kristy

    A meandering but insightful look into the lives of an interconnected trio Reese and Amy nearly had it all--a loving relationship, an apartment, and safety in each other: something extremely difficult for trans women to find. But that all changes when Amy decides to detransition and become Ames. Now Reese feels lost and alone, turning to her old patterns of sleeping with men who treat her poorly. And Ames isn't particularly happy either, though he's found a sort of comfort in his relationship with A meandering but insightful look into the lives of an interconnected trio Reese and Amy nearly had it all--a loving relationship, an apartment, and safety in each other: something extremely difficult for trans women to find. But that all changes when Amy decides to detransition and become Ames. Now Reese feels lost and alone, turning to her old patterns of sleeping with men who treat her poorly. And Ames isn't particularly happy either, though he's found a sort of comfort in his relationship with his boss, Katrina. But when Katrina discovers she's pregnant--with Ames' child--Ames is forced to confront a lot of his fears about masculinity and fatherhood. He also wonders if it's a chance for family. Reese has always longed for a baby; could he, Reese, and Katrina raise this child together? "Somewhere, somehow, Amy did the impossible. She got herself a baby." I love that this diverse book was my 300th read for Netgalley. I love love love that there is a story about trans women being celebrated and heralded on "must read" lists. I enjoyed so much about this book. Reese and Amy are detailed and realistic characters who--to me at least--did not seem stereotypical or one-dimensional. I felt like I learned so much reading their raw, emotional, and lovely story. The tale of Ames becoming a parent--and wanting to involve Reese--was an interesting and dynamic one for me. I could completely understand Reese's longing for motherhood and how she felt on the outside looking in. This part of the book was original and fascinating. Pieces of the story were utterly hilarious, despite some of the serious subject matter. There is a chapter where Reese attends an essential oils party with Katrina and other straight/cis women that made me laugh out loud. Peters captures her voice so perfectly. There's a vulnerability and realness to Reese that makes her a captivating character from the start. "Reese had already diagnosed her own problem. She didn't know how to be alone. She fled from her own company, from her own solitude." The hardest part for me about this book had nothing to do with its subject matter (if that's a problem for you, you're the problem), but the fact that it veers between the past and the present, going on tangents about Reese and Amy's past. Sometimes it seemed like it just needed a strong edit, with someone willing to strike about half of those passages. Or perhaps I just wanted to get on with the present, the impending baby, and Reese, Katrina, and Ames' story. I'm not sure. But I was nearly compelled to skim some of these long passages. It was just a lot. And then, after all that, the book just sort of ended, to me, without much resolution, and I felt a bit betrayed. Still, do not get me wrong. This is an excellent and important story, and more such stories like this need to be told. I definitely recommend it, and I bet any forthcoming books from Peters will only get better and better. 3.5 stars. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Random House in return for an unbiased review. Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

  19. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    There were times while reading Detransition, Baby that I felt that I was not the intended audience for this book, and that's ok. I don't think Torrey Peters meant for this to be written for a cis white gay man. I mean, she dedicates her novel to divorced cis women. But what I can say is that this novel exists in that special space where a book articulates a piece of specific experience so well that you are left with more clarity about that experience. This novel could not exist without its unfli There were times while reading Detransition, Baby that I felt that I was not the intended audience for this book, and that's ok. I don't think Torrey Peters meant for this to be written for a cis white gay man. I mean, she dedicates her novel to divorced cis women. But what I can say is that this novel exists in that special space where a book articulates a piece of specific experience so well that you are left with more clarity about that experience. This novel could not exist without its unflinching descriptions of trans women's lives and how identity shapes everything that happens to the characters before and after. There are also many aspects of the queer experience, that while not comparable, were in ways relatable. As you might expect, there is a great deal of discussion on gender in this book. Torrey writes about gender in such a powerful way, examining both the cruelty and freedom of gender and gender expression, not only with regards to trans people, but also cis people. and it is made very plain throughout the book that this is an analysis of the experiences of white trans people in particular. There is also a great deal of discussion surrounding pregnancy, motherhood and loss of a child, alongside the topic of cishet people co-opting queerness, both of which I found very thought-provoking. While the writing on these themes was strong, my issues with the novel is that, to me, the synopsis suggests that this would be the story of the three of them trying to figure out how to be co-parents and raising this child. But I would say a large majority of the book is dedicated to Reese and Ames’ past as lovers. This is, of course, a very important aspect of the story, but the pregnancy in question almost felt, to me, to take a backseat. This choice of narrative structure, of moving backwards and forwards through time, is one that didn't really work for me. I find there are very few authors who are successfully able to pull this off without their timelines becoming confusing. There were too many instances where a chapter would be set at a specific point in the past, but would then move to other periods both forward and backwards in time, before coming back to the initial point in time where the chapter started. These transitions would often be abrupt and hard to follow. The characters also came off a little one dimensional, where they talked about nothing outside gender politics, and never showed any details of their lives outside of these issues. Not once are we told about their hobbies, or interests.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Camryn

    Ah, I honestly did not know what to think of this! I will say that I absolutely could not put it down and I think I'd like to reread when I'm in the headspace for it. Reese and Ames' backstories were just so heavy and made me sad for them. There's a LOT about being trans and gender and sexuality and I honestly hadn't thought about a lot of what was brought up. There are also some debates about trans white women and how they are different from trans women of color, which I thought was interesting Ah, I honestly did not know what to think of this! I will say that I absolutely could not put it down and I think I'd like to reread when I'm in the headspace for it. Reese and Ames' backstories were just so heavy and made me sad for them. There's a LOT about being trans and gender and sexuality and I honestly hadn't thought about a lot of what was brought up. There are also some debates about trans white women and how they are different from trans women of color, which I thought was interesting. Mostly, though, all three characters are a mess. And I think the author wanted to show everyone being a mess. It was very frustrating to see them sabotage themselves, though. I felt mostly badly for Ames. I feel like he got more time in the first half and then didn't in the second... but his ending was sort of up in the air, the way the book was. The ending was very up in the air! Nothing is known for sure! I hate those types of endings, but I think it definitely worked for this book because the characters can't make up their minds. I don't know. I guess I didn't expect to be so sad at the end of this. I'll probably be thinking about it for a while.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mars

    It’s like a window was opened in my brain and fresh air circulated around a room, subtly resettling the constitutions of my mind. I’ll be thinking about this story and these characters for a long time

  22. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    Torrey Peters is a wonderful storyteller. I really enjoyed this quirky and deeply emotional novel. I did feel that something was missing in the second half. The story felt incomplete to me. The last 30 pages were so rushed. However, I thought the character development was really strong. Reese, Ames, and Katrina each had sides to their personalities that were positive and negative, which made them feel like real people. All three of their backstories were compelling. I think the chapters in the p Torrey Peters is a wonderful storyteller. I really enjoyed this quirky and deeply emotional novel. I did feel that something was missing in the second half. The story felt incomplete to me. The last 30 pages were so rushed. However, I thought the character development was really strong. Reese, Ames, and Katrina each had sides to their personalities that were positive and negative, which made them feel like real people. All three of their backstories were compelling. I think the chapters in the past tense were the most intriguing to read. The writing was brilliant. Peters' writing style is so witty, sarcastic, and imaginative. I couldn't help but chuckle every few pages. I love how this novel tackled the struggles of the trans community. It's so refreshing to read about characters of all walks of life. A diverse and relevant novel (much appreciated). Thank you, Netgalley and Random House for the digital ARC.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Detransition, Baby is my second read by Torrey Peters, and I've enjoyed both books (the other one was Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones)! This book is funny, complicated, sad, and chaotic in a good way. The characters are well-rounded and unlikeable in the best way - they are messy, but I was rooting for them. I couldn't put the book down. Sometimes the tangents make it hard to keep track of things, but it worked out well enough. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending, but this was still such Detransition, Baby is my second read by Torrey Peters, and I've enjoyed both books (the other one was Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones)! This book is funny, complicated, sad, and chaotic in a good way. The characters are well-rounded and unlikeable in the best way - they are messy, but I was rooting for them. I couldn't put the book down. Sometimes the tangents make it hard to keep track of things, but it worked out well enough. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending, but this was still such a good read. I'm looking forward to seeing what Torrey Peters does next! CW - infertility, abuse, internalized transphobia, fetishization, attempted suicide, outing, cheating, miscarriage, grief, mentions of: HIV, suicide

  24. 5 out of 5

    ☁ annie ☁

    i'm gonna try really hard not to be too spoiler-y in this review, but i'm gonna talk about the characters and some of their interactions so keep that in mind as you read on!! this was a super interesting, funny, depressing, convoluted and messy book (in a good way!) i kinda had to suspend my disbelief at the key plot point, which saw a detransitioned man (ames) inviting his ex-girlfriend (reese) to co-mother his unborn child with his new girlfriend (katrina) without even checking if that was an ok i'm gonna try really hard not to be too spoiler-y in this review, but i'm gonna talk about the characters and some of their interactions so keep that in mind as you read on!! this was a super interesting, funny, depressing, convoluted and messy book (in a good way!) i kinda had to suspend my disbelief at the key plot point, which saw a detransitioned man (ames) inviting his ex-girlfriend (reese) to co-mother his unborn child with his new girlfriend (katrina) without even checking if that was an okay thing to do. though it wasn't exactly smooth, i was surprised by how quickly katrina seemed to accept reese seemingly without jealousy despite her having no experience of anything resembling polyamory. but yeah, if my belief can be suspended, i loved the relationship that formed between reese and katrina. the two women bounced off each other so well. both were super flawed characters, but believably so. i really enjoyed the ways torrey peters used these characters to play out arguments about motherhood and womanhood and the intersection between them. reese's view of motherhood is criticised by katrina for being shallow, whilst katrina has her own difficulties in understanding the transgender community. They educate each other without it ever escalating to conflict and it was really nice to see a relationship between a trans and a cis woman which didn't rely on one-upmanship or bigotry. really refreshing! i also enjoyed reading about the prospect of ames' detransition. i'm pretty tired of reading about detransitioning as a nothing more than a TERF talking point and it was interesting to hear a trans perspective. it is not as straightforward as ames having moved from male to female and back again; rather, it is just a step on his journey to understanding himself fully. i suppose that was kinda symbolised by the fact he removed the 'J' from the front of his old name, suggesting he was not ready to adopt his former fully male self upon detransition. overall, i would completely recommend this one, especially to newbies to trans lit like myself! very introspective and character-driven piece about a community who are currently facing a whole lot of shit. am completely open for any other recommendations from you guys as well <3

  25. 5 out of 5

    Althea

    Torrey Peters is not shy when it comes to making her novel pack a punch. The book opens with one of our main characters, Reese, pondering why married men are so attractive to her, while she is sneaking around with one of said married men. That is, until her night is interrupted by her ex, Ames, a detransitioned trans woman, phoning her to ask her if she wants to be a mother to his and his boss’ baby. Straight away you’re thrown into this strange dynamic but you never once feel overwhelmed as Tor Torrey Peters is not shy when it comes to making her novel pack a punch. The book opens with one of our main characters, Reese, pondering why married men are so attractive to her, while she is sneaking around with one of said married men. That is, until her night is interrupted by her ex, Ames, a detransitioned trans woman, phoning her to ask her if she wants to be a mother to his and his boss’ baby. Straight away you’re thrown into this strange dynamic but you never once feel overwhelmed as Torrey Peters’ powerful, evocative writing welcomes you into this whirlwind of a book. Straight away you discover that Reese is not a likeable main character – in fact, none of them are. Aside from her dalliances with married men, Reese cheats on several of her partners, Katrina, Ames’s boss and carrier of his baby, drunkenly outs Ames one evening to their business partners in a fit of anger, and Ames is often insensitive to both of them all the while swithering over whether he wants to be a father or not. But it all adds to the charm of the novel – it’s gritty and realistic and leaves your sympathies with each character always hanging in the balance. As you might expect, there is a great deal of discussion on gender in this book. Torrey writes about gender in such a powerful way, examining both the cruelty and freedom of gender and gender expression, not only with regards to trans people, but also cis people. and it is made very plain throughout the book that this is an analysis of the experiences of white trans people in particular. With regards to Ames, we get to understand detransition and the fluctuation of identity, as well as the prejudices faced by him having detransitioned. There is also a great deal of discussion surrounding pregnancy, motherhood and loss of a child, alongside the topic of cishet people co-opting queerness, both of which I found very thought-provoking. My one gripe with the novel was that, to me, the synopsis suggests that this would be the story of the three of them trying to figure out how to be co-parents and raising this child, but I would say a large majority of the book is dedicated to Reese and Ames’ past as lovers. This is, of course, a very important aspect of the story, but the pregnancy in question almost felt, to me, to take a backseat. I do know, however, that for many other people this will be something that they really enjoy, as it is such a reflective, character driven story. If you’re new to literary fiction, this may not be the book for you, but for a staunch lover of the genre this is a delicious, heartbreaking debut that will leave you dying for more of Torrey Peters’ beautiful prose. TW: pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion mention, alcohol, violence, abuse, transphobia, outing, homophobia, suicide mention, attempted suicide, death, (this is not a full list but I will add more as I remember them). Thank you to Serpent's Tail for an ARC copy in return for an honest review!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Johnson

    Detransition, Baby is one of the first novels written by a trans woman to be published by a big-five publishing house. It’s raw, chaotic, and unapologetic. I’m not ashamed to say I learned a lot while reading this book. I had to stop and Google so many unfamiliar terms that I started to feel uncomfortable with how little I know about trans womanhood. But I think that’s kind of the point here, and I do want to understand womanhood in all its forms. Ultimately, I don’t believe I’m Peters’s target a Detransition, Baby is one of the first novels written by a trans woman to be published by a big-five publishing house. It’s raw, chaotic, and unapologetic. I’m not ashamed to say I learned a lot while reading this book. I had to stop and Google so many unfamiliar terms that I started to feel uncomfortable with how little I know about trans womanhood. But I think that’s kind of the point here, and I do want to understand womanhood in all its forms. Ultimately, I don’t believe I’m Peters’s target audience. She goes out of her way to point out character flaws in “naive cis people” who exhibit “a hint of self-congratulation at their own broad mindedness.” She says you can “hear the strange sense of satisfaction when [cis women] talk about the men who have hurt them - the unspoken subtext of it being because I am a woman...and this delicate and capable of sustaining harm.” I work with victims of domestic violence, and I found the sentiment to be tasteless and disgusting, regardless of the context. Victimhood isn’t a kink. Despite my appreciation for an opportunity to learn, I almost gave up on this book before I hit the 100 page mark, mostly because there wasn’t much of a story, and despite the messy chaos, I was bored. Bored and annoyed. I was annoyed with the utter implausibility of the detransitioned Ames offering his f*ck buddy Katrina’s unborn child to Ames’s pre-destransition girlfriend, a trans woman named Reese, who Ames characterizes as having a “suite of personality disorders.” It just didn’t make sense at all. It’s a baby. It’s not a litter of puppies. Maybe you could promise a coworker you could hook them up with one of your neighbor’s new puppies without asking your neighbor first, but you can’t just give away parental responsibility without mentioning it to the woman who is carrying said baby. The premise was completely ridiculous. Peters treated it with the cavalier attitude of a happy couple with a healthy sex life tossing around the idea of a threesome. No, no. This would be like if a husband came home to his wife and, having never broached the subject before in all their years of marriage, said “Honey, what do you think about a threesome?” And she wasn’t wild about the idea, but then he said “Well I already asked my ex girlfriend and she said yes.” No. Not ok. She’d tell him to pack his shit and get out of her house. The only thing remotely realistic about this story was Katrina’s immediate reaction, which was to call Ames a sociopath, but that lasted all of 15 seconds before she agreed to give a third of her unborn child to a complete stranger. Cue eye roll. I feel like the storyline did little to further the trans community’s efforts for trans men and women to be accepted as viable, healthy, loving parents. At the end of the day, I’m glad I finished this book, but I can comfortably say it’s not going to end up on my Top 10 list for 2021.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Book

    Listen to the full review here: https://bookclubbed.buzzsprout.com/15... Detransition, Baby is a force of nature and, as such, has no interest in your neat and orderly expectations of it. It is an exploration of what it’s like to be trans, to transition, and to live as trans, three different aspects which cannot be discussed or understood independently. And, of course, to detransition, as the title suggests. To continue the triptych theme, this book compares how you perceive yourself vs how your c Listen to the full review here: https://bookclubbed.buzzsprout.com/15... Detransition, Baby is a force of nature and, as such, has no interest in your neat and orderly expectations of it. It is an exploration of what it’s like to be trans, to transition, and to live as trans, three different aspects which cannot be discussed or understood independently. And, of course, to detransition, as the title suggests. To continue the triptych theme, this book compares how you perceive yourself vs how your community perceives you vs how larger society sees you (if it sees you at all). The title captures the tone. Voice-y. Spasmatic. Electric. This, in turn, matches the tone of the characters, which can slip from sassy to mournful to reflective in pages, but never without cause. Peters is a sharp writer. Whenever I encounter an academic or underutilized word, I think: does this accurately describe the situation and all its connotations, or is the author just trying to vary their vocabulary? In this work, her words always showcase a scary amount of precision. Peters writes about sex and sexiness and its various forms very well, which is one of the hardest things to do in fiction. She doesn’t undercut, doesn’t joke, and doesn’t shy aware from desires and how they often contradict the exact forms of desire we attempt to project to the world. We follow several characters throughout various time periods, all of which are trans or detransitioning, desiring motherhood or waffling, negotiating the cis world or rejecting its very premises. They are fully realized, fucked up but loveable, complete with backstories, arcs, intersections, and quirks. This is hard to pull off for a novel with numerous POVs. Usually one character steals the show, becoming the de facto MC. Peters is a writer fully in charge of her writing talents. One star off for telling about the characters too much--we get better traction in scene--and occasional monologues by the characters that sound like they are preparing for an exit interview with Judith Butler.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe

    [For transparency's sake, I got an ARC through Netgalley] I loved Detransition Baby so, so much. I really commend it for its incredibly complicated and flawed characters who are treated with a great deal of kindness and compassion by the narrative, and its portrayal of real, uncomfortable conflict that is handled very deftly. These are people who fuck up and hurt each other in a multitude of unpleasant ways and are never demonized for it. There's cheating, outing, deception, and weaponized identi [For transparency's sake, I got an ARC through Netgalley] I loved Detransition Baby so, so much. I really commend it for its incredibly complicated and flawed characters who are treated with a great deal of kindness and compassion by the narrative, and its portrayal of real, uncomfortable conflict that is handled very deftly. These are people who fuck up and hurt each other in a multitude of unpleasant ways and are never demonized for it. There's cheating, outing, deception, and weaponized identity politics, all polarizing topics, but we see these conflicts from multiple perspectives, and feel both the pain of the person hurt and sympathize with the person doing the hurting. Honestly, I wasn't expecting this level of emotional realism from a book with the premise "let's raise a baby with my ex" and I was completely blown away by it. I think part of the raw honesty of Detransition Baby comes from the number of trans women characters throughout the book. None of these women are expected to represent trans womanhood on their own and I think that freedom allows the characters to be genuinely flawed and imperfect and interesting and good, and for that complexity, they feel very real. I am also just obsessed with the depiction of motherhood and parenthood as a complicated concept that means something different for everyone, but that with a measure of vulnerability, can be built and shared together. This is also one of the most fundamental places where characters' wants and needs conflict against each other and I think the book does a great job of balancing those without saying any one character is fully right or fully wrong. I was particularly struck by Reese's deep yearning for motherhood vs. Katrina's relief at her first miscarriage vs. Ames's distinction between fatherhood and parenthood. There aren't neat, easy answers to the conflicts that come up in their attempts to remake for themselves what family looks like, but I was moved by their attempts to build a functional, livable life without sacrificing happiness for conformity. For those hesitant because of the entire topic of detransition, I thought the book handled it really well. Detransition is explored without delegitimizing transness in part because Detransition Baby balances one character detransitioning against dozens of other trans women in the book who don't. The book paints Amy's life as a trans woman not as a mistake, and the decision to detransition instead as more akin to going back into the closet, for all the reasons that people do: fear, exhaustion, and how genuinely hard it is to be queer sometimes. Detransition Baby makes it very clear that Amy/Ames is, beneath "living as a man," still a trans woman. To paraphrase, being trans isn't something you stop being. My major gripes with the book were largely technical. There could have been a much tighter edit, both for simple spelling/continuity mistakes and overall construction-wise. That being said, I don't think those stood in the way of my enjoyment or love for the book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Madeleine

    in a lovely interview with harron walker, torrey peters shares of imogen binnie’s nevada: “Nevada is what happens when trans women are able to talk to each other. No single person is going to have that level of insight on their own.” that precise collective knowledge so beautifully animates the protagonists in detransition baby. i grew quickly attached to each character, how they reckoned with giving and receiving care, the relentlessly smart and revealing use of dialogue (another sharp nod to th in a lovely interview with harron walker, torrey peters shares of imogen binnie’s nevada: “Nevada is what happens when trans women are able to talk to each other. No single person is going to have that level of insight on their own.” that precise collective knowledge so beautifully animates the protagonists in detransition baby. i grew quickly attached to each character, how they reckoned with giving and receiving care, the relentlessly smart and revealing use of dialogue (another sharp nod to the “sex and the city problem”). collective knowledge animates how these characters move through space, infusing place with gossip and biting wit: from a queer critique of riis to the glaad awards to a pyramid scheme essential oils party to a bushwick queer dive bar owned by a straight couple (but seriously, dm if you want a gay juice there post pandemic). the novel did a wonderful job slipping itself right into the gulfs between one another (the distance between the “i” and the “other,” reese notes early in the novel, that straight girls enthusiastically pin on gender). it also movingly showed the ties of mothering and love and desire that remake us through destabilization. smart structure and abundant gorgeous sentences. a delight of craft and tour de gossip. during these dismal days, peters is making me nearly excited for the future!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anwen Hayward

    (My copy was an ARC from Netgalley, granted in exchange for a review) This is such a complicated one to review. There's so much to love about it. The words 'whip-smart' have been thrown around in just about every single review of this one, and the more annoying thing is that it's true. Peters is a fantastic writer, with an ability to write characters who really do feel like you could bump into them in the street; I half expected to turn around and see Reese and Ames in the room with me as I read. (My copy was an ARC from Netgalley, granted in exchange for a review) This is such a complicated one to review. There's so much to love about it. The words 'whip-smart' have been thrown around in just about every single review of this one, and the more annoying thing is that it's true. Peters is a fantastic writer, with an ability to write characters who really do feel like you could bump into them in the street; I half expected to turn around and see Reese and Ames in the room with me as I read. I can see why this book has garnered the hype and the praise that it has; it's utterly unlike anything else out there (although there are some similarities with Imogen Binnie's Nevada in terms of how trans womanhood is dissected) and it's that rare book which manages to be a fast read without sacrificing its depth. It's absolutely going to end up on every awards list going, and it should. Peters is that enviable sort of writer whose shopping lists are probably works of art. There were things I disliked about it, primarily Peters' habit of introducing far too many characters, giving us an in-depth description of their relationship to the protagonists and their backstory, and then never mentioning them again. We'd get 80% into the book and then discover that, actually, Reese has a best friend she relies on entirely, even though she's never been mentioned before. This habit of throwaway characters became irritating to the point that I stopped focusing on them at all, and then found myself confused on the rare occasion they were brought up later. I think an editor should probably have convinced Peter to kill more of her darlings. Peters also never misses an opportunity, however fleeting, to make her characters the mouthpieces for quite extensive gender theory, usually in the form of one character monologuing about niche gender expressions or expectations in dialogue with another. This flitted between seeming authentic, on the count that these characters clearly have a hat in that particular ring and therefore would obviously think about it a lot, to being quite obviously a chance for the author to convey a lot of theory within the narrative, and therefore not really much more than exposition. These moments made the characters feel less authentic, and considering that the authenticity of the characters was one of the things I loved most about it, it almost disappointed me to have the veil pierced like that. This book could have very easily been streamlined. That said, its debut messiness is a large part of its charm. For its faults, it's a book that'll percolate in my brain for a good long while, and I'm eagerly awaiting whatever Torrey Peters writes next.

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