Brian Katcher–Almost Perfect

The What: Logan’s a good small-town Missouri boy. He lives in a trailer, runs track, and hangs out with his friends. He can’t get over his ex, Brenda, until a new girl arrives at his small high school. Sage is attractive, friendly, and mysterious: her parents won’t allow her to date. Logan and Sage become friends, and then something more than friends. When Logan finds out that Sage is a male-to-female transsexual, he is furious and refuses to speak to her. Yet no matter how hard he tries to deny it, he misses her, and is still attracted to her. What does that mean for him, and what will happen to Sage when she begins to share her secret?

The Good: Despite the story’s potential to devolve into melodrama (poor boy with problems falls for rich girl with bigger problems), Katcher’s sense of humor keeps the tone afloat. I laughed out loud so often that a co-worker sharing the break room with me looked up from her crossword puzzle in disbelief and asked, “What are you reading?” Logan’s self-deprecating approach to life, struggles with acceptance, and quiet insights will resonate with teens, especially guys. Also, the simultaneous closeness and distance encompassed in Logan’s relationships with his mother and sister (and his father, in absentia) will feel familiar to many teens.

The Meh: Two biggies. One, I enjoyed the story, but it’s too long. The middle needs to be tightened up to spare us some of Logan and Sage’s numerous ups and downs; I kept looking at the number of pages left and thinking, “Where can this story possibly go that would require this much page space?” Two, the cover will make it hard to sell to teenage guys, but that’s exactly who this book will most appeal to. Not ideal, Marketing Department.

Hand It To: Older teen guys, fans of “Luna” or “Parrotfish,” Nancy Pearl’s character readers, anyone interested in transgender fiction.