The first thing I did after finishing Torrey Peters’ “Detransition, Baby?” Googled it to see if it’s going to be on TV somewhere at some point.
It looks promising. And thank you to the platform that picks it up because I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
The drama! The anxiety! The caustic sense of humor all the characters seem to employ as a modern day defense weapon!
I finished the book, set it down with a slam and said out loud, “Well, fuck you! How can you leave me like this?” And I meant it in the very best way that only books that pull you in, make you give a shit about the characters and then you leave you twisting in the wind do.
In “Detransition, Baby,” Peters invites readers into the lives of Ames, Reese and Katrina — three people, each struggling in their own spectacular way, that are trying to forge a path to an unconventional parenting arrangement.
Reese, a 30-something transgender woman, desperately wants to be a mother. Ames, formerly Amy, is Reese’s ex-girlfriend who transitioned to a woman and then detransitioned to a man. And Katrina is Ames’ boss and girlfriend — now carrying the baby he thought he could never conceive. Having previously experienced a miscarriage, she’s not entirely sure she’s ready to parent until Ames comes up with a novel approach to undertake.
The question is, can the three of these people unravel the batshit crazy in their lives enough to pull this off?
One of the best aspects of this novel is Peters’ ability to create very authentic people in characters such as Reese and Ames. It isn’t just a queer storyline. These two stand on their own, and own their identities — Reese, particularly. Never once, even given the physical mechanics occasionally discussed, did I think of Reese as a man that became a woman. Reese is one of the most complex, engaging, sad, joyous, anxious, human characters I have come to love and embrace in literature recently. She is far from perfect, as we all are. But she is human. It’s breathtaking.
And the relationship between Reese and Amy. And Reese and Ames — the back-and-forth nonlinear construction of the novel allows readers the opportunity to understand the complexity of relationships that exists across the spectrum of sexuality. Which makes the introduction of Katrina so interesting and emotional.
The cast of characters above and beyond these three (though honestly if a show were just them sitting at Jada’s “Red Table,” I’d sign up for the season) is what makes me so excited for the prospect of a longer visit with this story. I need a Thalia and Iris in my Netflix queue. NEED it. I want to hate on Stanley and I want to enjoy a few moments pretend-casting The Cowboy.
“Detransition, Baby” had been on my TBR list all year thus far, and I am thrilled I finally was able to read it. Please don’t wait as long as I did. You’ll be glad you did.