Sunday, 29 December 2013

TRANSGRESSION

TITLE: TRANSGRESSION
AUTHOR: THEO FENRAVEN
Pages: 205
Date: 29/12/2013
Grade: 5
Own/Kindle

The blurb:

“Zachary Fox can’t sleep. 

His acting career is taking off. Public recognition is picking up. Now more than ever, he understands how key reputation is to his success. But his relationship with his co-star, Kris—arranged around publicity rather than genuine feelings—is suffocating him. She once understood his needs, but her demands are beginning to grate with every shrill order she gives. 

Zach has a secret. The breakout star of a new medical series, he’s been hiding his orientation from co-stars, friends and family, the studio, and his fans. 

On the recommendation of a friend, Zach seeks out Sky Kelly, a well-connected herbalist whose concoctions are natural magic, as is her stunning beauty. On the surface, she has it all: her own house, a thriving business, and good friends, but the things she had to do to get there are a time bomb ticking away, and when it goes off, she'll be teetering on the edge of a chasm that can put her right back where she started. 

Sky has secrets. Like, she’s got a Y chromosome and the original equipment to go with it. Like being a highly paid escort. Like, if Zach is seen with her in public, it could ruin his career. Like someone becoming so obsessed with Sky, that obsession threatens them both.

Secrets... everyone is hiding something, and instead of finding The One, it could be The End. “

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Before I start my review of this book I wanted to say this. I started writing about ‘Transgression’ last night, immediately after finishing it, and had to stop myself. It took about two paragraphs before my review turned into something resembling a political treatise. This book deals with an issue I have strong feelings about and I doubt that I’ll be able to keep those out of my review. I will however try to concentrate on the wonderful story and keep my personal feelings in the background.


This won’t be the first time I tell you that you really must read a book, and it probably won’t be the last time either. Whenever I’m fortunate enough to find a story that touches me in one way or another I feel this need to spread the word in the hope that other people will find the same reading joy I did. And this story touched me; boy did it ever. It touched me in so many ways it is hard to know where to begin, but I’ll try.

First and foremost this book touched me because of the wonderful love story it contains. The story of a love so strong it will overcome prejudice, personal setbacks as well as scrutiny and scorn.

When Zach, an up and coming actor and Sky, a beautiful herbalist, first meet there is an attraction between them. What neither of them knows is that the other person is hiding a secret that, if it ever came out, could cost them everything they’ve worked so hard to build. When they reveal their secrets to each other, Zach and Sky realize that not only are they attracted to each other; their individual secrets also mean they couldn’t be better suited for each other. In a perfect world, that would have been the end of the story – happy ever after and so on. In the real world, and in this book, it means shit hits the fan as soon as their relationship as well as their secrets are publicly revealed. Throw into the mix a spoiled young man obsessed with Sky and suddenly it is not only their starting relationship which is in danger.

The second reason I’ve fallen in love with this book is because of how it deals with diversity. Zach, Sky and quite a few of the other characters in this book have feelings, bodies and preferences that make them stand out from what the world would describe as ‘the norm’ (whatever that may be). Theo Fenraven managed to show that just as having red hair doesn’t make you a lesser human being, neither does being bi-sexual, or transgender, or a cross-dresser. Again, it shouldn’t be necessary to point this out, but since, unfortunately it is, I am glad it was done in such a sensitive yet realistic way. I’m sure it would have been tempting to make these characters almost saintly, if only to compensate for all the prejudice that does exist. The author, thankfully, didn’t fall into that trap. These are characters like you find in any other love story; they have their strong and weak points, there are moments you’d like to shout at them to just get their act together and follow their hearts and fuck the world, and you’ll find your heart breaking for them when everything appears to fall apart.

To say that for most of the book I was hurting for Sky would be an understatement.

“She was different, exotic, an anomaly that intrigued. She understood why they were compelled to see for themselves, but their unconcealed interest in her anatomy only perpetuated the feeling she was a freak, a mistake of nature that shouldn’t exist.”

To think that anybody might consider themselves a freak is enough to break my heart, the knowledge that the world is filled with people who would view Sky as just that makes me want to scream.    

So many characters in this book struggle with what they are; are so afraid of how they will be perceived if their secret were to ever come out that they keep it even from those they consider their best friends. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to live your life like that and shudder when I try to imagine how lonely a person would feel as the result of keeping those secrets.

 “It’s a black and white world, and the rainbow has no place in it.” - Zach

The fact that this book exists and may get one or two people to think again gives me a small glimmer of hope; hope that there will be a day when Zach’s observation will no longer be true because the rainbow will have become accepted by all as the beauty it represents.

This book rubs all the prejudice that floats around in this world right into the readers’ faces and even if you don’t have a prejudiced bone in your body you’ll end up feeling ashamed of all the things people think, and allow themselves to say out loud. I will never understand why people feel the need to put down or object to anything or anybody that is different or how they could imagine that it is okay to do so.

Of course this book can be read as “just another” love story. It is my hope that those who pick up this book will recognise all the issues the story deals with while enjoying the love story.  My only regret after reading this book is that the ending, beautiful as it is, isn’t a reality for more couples in the real world.

I started off this review saying that I didn’t want to turn this into a personal quest; I think I may have failed in that. My intention was to write a review that accurately reflected my thoughts and feelings during and after reading this book; I fear I may have failed in that too. It seems that I just don’t have the words to describe all the feelings this book awakened in me.

So, allow me to summarize; this is a beautiful love story centered on issues that shouldn’t be issues to begin with but need to be confronted for as long as they are. This is one of the best, most memorable books I’ve read this year. The story is good and should be read by anybody who wants a little bit more from their books than just another charming love story.

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