Who I Am

M.L. Rice, April 2011. I should have known from that dead cat…but I didn’t.

I really thought I was going to enjoy this realistic novel that, like K.E. Payne’s 365 Days, told a funny and sweet story about crushing on your best friend.  And that’s what it was like for the first half.  Unfortunately, some crazy melodrama happened in the second part…some serious Julie Anne Peters-type violence.  Basically, Melanie comes out to her family; her brother gets super-aggressive and mean about it; Devin runs out the front door to get away from him; Melanie follows, runs after her for a block, and her freaking lung collapses, and she disappears to the hospital and no one will tell Devin what’s going on ANGST PROBLEM-NOVEL MELODRAMA VIOLENCE SAD COMING-OUT = NOOOOOO type of shit. This didn’t do Peters any favors and it doesn’t help Rice either.  Come on, Ms. Rice, even though this was one of those books where only the narrator is surprised to learn Melanie is gay, I was STILL totally rooting for you up until Melanie’s brother delivers a dead cat in a box to Devin, which took me aback a bit, but I didn’t predict that it foreshadowed that terrible ending. Not recommended even one little bit.

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4 Responses to Who I Am

  1. ML Rice says:

    I’m sorry you didn’t like the book, Daisy. I know people who have experienced events like the one I wrote about so it’s not as unrealistic as you might think. I think it’s important that not all coming out/bully stories are white-washed. There is real, melodramatic, illogical violence in these situations and I wanted to show that it can and does happen that way. It’s not pretty and it can seem ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. I also wanted to show that, despite these kinds of setbacks, love and self-acceptance can win in the end. This isn’t just a love story about crushing on your best friend. The blurb on the back of the book does mention the violence that Devin will face. Yes, it’s melodramatic. Yes, there is violence from a bully, but the prevailing point is that she and Melanie (not Melody) do come back together in the end and overcome all odds.
    Again, I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy it, but I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and love that you have this Queer YA website.
    Best regards,
    ML Rice

  2. Daisy says:

    Thanks, Ms. Rice, for your gracious reply. For what it’s worth, I do think you are a talented writer, despite the fact that I didn’t enjoy the second half of your book. I appreciate the work that you do to represent LGBTQ characters in fiction.

    And my apologies for the mistake with Melanie’s name – will change now. Thank you for stopping by.

  3. Cady says:

    Hello! I’ve been reading through your blog, and really enjoying it, but I have to disagree with your estimation of Who I Am. I really loved this story! I feel like it truthfully captures the roller coaster of emotions that revolve around falling in love for the first time. Also, the coming out part of the story (in spite of the melodrama) does have a ring of truth about it. I feel like your distaste of the book comes from incorrect expectations or preconceptions, even though the synopsis on the back sets it up pretty clearly. I base this thought on the fact that in your first sentence you say that you expected it be be like 365 Days. The problem of bullying is so painfully prevalent that I think this book is very timely and important, especially because the bullying isn’t relegated to the school-aged characters, but exists between adults and teens as well.

  4. Daisy says:

    I’m glad to know the book has some fans; that’s great.

    My expectations of the book were based on my reading of the first half rather than of the back cover. This is a mistake Julie Ann Peters makes a lot as well – the first half seems like a realistic story, but then it turns into a soap opera at the end.

    Thanks for stopping by – nothing is more fun than politely disagreeing about books!

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