“Life in a small town can be tough when you’re a little different, but for a fifteen year old transgender kid it can truly be hell. Clark is harassed daily at school for his effeminate behavior and appearance. He has no friends and a brother that is as likely to be on the teasing as to prevent it.
When Clark is offered a job babysitting for the Pirella family, it seems like a godsend. The money is good. He bonds with the girls almost instantly. The father, Tony, works in computer security. Tony and Clark strike up a friendship based on a mutual love of computers and hacking.
As Tony becomes aware of Clark’s transsexuality and his growing feminine alter ego, Clarissa, things become incredibly complicated. Will Tony be Clarissa’s salvation, or her undoing?”
I found Rachel Eliason by chance on Goodreads and she was asking people to review her book. I stepped up and she gave me a free copy of it. I was expecting the book to be poorly written as it was a self-published book and I have had a lot of issues with self-published work being overly wordy or badly edited. I am really happy to say that Rachel Eliason did her time editing the book (I was only able to find five typos in the entire 60,000 words and that is a low even for professionally published books).
The plot started out focusing on Clark figuring out who he really was. It goes as far as naming him Claire and Clarissa (though there is not a great deal of talk about why there are two names). There is also a lot of pronoun changes throughout the book. Depending on what Clark/Clarissa is doing or how he/she is acting depends on the pronoun the author uses. This is both interesting and problematic. It is interesting as it allows the reader to see that Clark and Clarissa may not be the same person and that they have to be different to survive, but it also makes it look more like multiple personalities than the same personality with different expectations. The author made me a lot less worried as she was able to show that Clark was barely allowed to live as Clark, there was no way that Clarissa would have been allowed to get by. For this review I will be using Clark/he when talking about Clark pre-transition and his experience as a boy and Clarissa/she when talking about post-transition and her experience as a girl.
My main issue in the book is the ridiculous plot. Clark learns computer hacking from Tony (the father of the two girls he babysits). In less than a year he is as good as a professional computer hacker despite not having regular access to a computer before this. I have heard of fast learners, but to be so good as to hack an expert hacker, the FBI, and private investigators in less than a year makes it a bit hard to believe. The plot got ridiculous to the point that Clark flew to Asia and had an SRS with forged paperwork (how he was able to do that is also ridiculous but was able to fuse the plots together brilliantly).
The plots were great otherwise and the story was always a step ahead of me. I didn’t expect many of the actions and steps that the characters took. I can’t verify anything about the computer stuff that was talked about a lot, but I can hope it is as good as the editing. I would gladly read more books by this author, but I hope that they feel less like spy/mystery novels as I am not a big fan of them. This novel was no different. I was a huge fan for the first half of the book where it was about identity and creepy relationships, but when it got to the defrauding the government and running to another country I got bored (a common feeling for me through anything full action and adventure).
4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this books to teens to help them understand transsexualism while keeping them hooked with a FBI chase.
You can buy this book here.