Title: Somebody Told Me by Mia Siegert
Publication date: 7 April 2020
Genre: Contemporary | Young Adult
Goodreads blurb: A novel of trauma, identity, and survival.
After an assault, bigender seventeen-year-old Aleks/Alexis is looking for a fresh start―so they voluntarily move in with their uncle, a Catholic priest. In their new bedroom, Aleks/Alexis discovers they can overhear parishioners in the church confessional. Moved by the struggles of these “sinners,” Aleks/Alexis decides to anonymously help them, finding solace in their secret identity: a guardian angel instead of a victim.
But then Aleks/Alexis overhears a confession of another priest admitting to sexually abusing a parishioner. As they try to uncover the priest’s identity before he hurts anyone again, Aleks/Alexis is also forced to confront their own abuser and come to terms with their past trauma.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I first found this book thanks to Dahlia at LGBTQReads shouting about it as the first YA novel with bigender rep. The way this rep was handled was definitely my favourite part of the book and I loved seeing YA expand to include less talked about representation, but ultimately the plot of the novel felt confusing and I didn’t click with the writing style.
Aleks/Alexis has moved in with their strict Catholic Aunt and Uncle, to escape their old life after an assault. Choosing to present only as Alexis, they find solace in a new identity, Raziel. After discovering they can overhear confessionals from their room, as Raziel, they try to help others. But when they overhear a Priest confessing to assaulting an alterboy, they end up confronting their own assault as well as that of the Priest’s.
I want to first talk about the bigender rep in this book, because I found it absolutely wonderful and you could really feel how honest and true the author was being to their identity. I think this book will really help a lot of teens by providing such great representation of a marginalisation not commonly talked about. I really appreciated the honesty of this portrayal and in addition, I really loved the portrayal of Aleks/Alexis parents as well. None of the YA I read ever seems to show supportive parenting?! But this book did! Thank you for writing supportive parents who check in with their teen and support who they are without any issues.
However, as much as I wish I loved this book, I just don’t think it was my cup of tea. I initially really liked the stream of consciousness style of writing as I felt it gave a really great, detailed look at who our main character is, and I connected with them much quicker than usual thanks to this style. However it did get extremely repetitive and by the end of the book, I really wasn’t clicking with it at all. I also think the pacing was a little off. Until about 70% through, it’s filled with the repetitive stream of consciousness thoughts, very focused on who Aleks/Alexis is and how they feel, and then suddenly it turns into a thriller novel. It was quite confusing and I just don’t think it flowed well.
However, me not clicking with the writing style doesn’t mean you won’t! I think this is very much a ‘it’s not the book, it’s me’ case, because I know plenty of people who enjoy the very personal first person POV style of writing. I want to raise my support for this novel because the bigender rep is fantastic and I am happy to finally see the less spoken about queer identities getting their chance to shine in YA!!