Review: For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu

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Peter wrestles with gender expectations and his own gender identity.

Fu introduces the reader to a family ruled by a quasi tyrannical father heavy on Chinese cultural and traditional beliefs. Although the story focuses on each family member, Peter ultimately becomes the center of the narrative.

Peter, the only male son born of two Chinese immigrants – his life mapped out from the womb by his father. The burden of expectation serves as a yoke around Peter’s neck. Successful, a pillar of strength, marriage along with a family – merely scratching at the life sketched for Peter.

“I drew myself with a stiff halo of hair, swaddled babies around my feet. A satisfied smile from ear to ear. “I want to be a Mommy.”

However Peter hopes for a different life, a life he only shares with his sisters, a hidden secret kept from his parents.

Peter sneaks moments where he can be his authentic self – wearing an apron, cooking, cleaning, dressing up, applying make-up. Tasks performed alone, fearful of how the world will accept her.

“I felt a wave of panic. I never peed standing up. When I had to, I thought of my body as a machine, a robot that did my bidding. A combination of arms and legs and heart and lungs. It had nothing to do with me. My real body was somewhere else, waiting for me. It looked like my sisters’ bodies.”

The story gives hope but it really highlights the pain and isolation of living a life as a lie. How you have to hide your authentic self due to parental disapproval along with societal scorn. Fitting into an unfamiliar an awkward skin feeling as if you’re an unwelcome intruder, clearly knowing your trapped in a body representing the wrong sex.

Fu masters Peter and his brutal and beautiful story. Painful tinged with hope.

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•Paperback, 256 pages
•Published March 10th 2015 by Mariner Books (first published January 14th 2014)
•ISBN13: 9780544538528

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Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi

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“A man does not know a woman’s value, Firdaus. She is the one who determines her value. The higher you price yourself, the more he will realize what you are really worth.”

Saadawi brilliantly describes the predicament of Firdaus, a woman sentenced to death for a slaying in self-defense.


“Everybody has to die. I prefer to die for a crime I have committed rather than to die for one of the crimes which you have committed.”

Firdaus tells her life story which is heartbreaking, a story often retold in many regions throughout the world. A woman’s independence in a patriarchal society, female circumcision and subjugation of women are unfolded in the telling of Woman at Point Zero. Saadawi an accomplished feminist author creates a self-analysis on why males behave they way they do. She points the story in the direction of how men view women. This story should not be looked upon strictly towards third world countries but the entire world.

“Every single man I did get to know filled me with but one desire: to lift my hand and bring it smashing down on his face.”

An emotional story, a courageous heroine giving insight to issues frequently ignored as well as a hard look at attaining respect, and the nature of power.

Firdaus is an incredible woman, a steady voice of strength for women suffering oppression and senseless abuse in the name of religion or cultural traditions. A woman defining heroine.

“Yet not for a single moment did I have any doubts about my own integrity and honour as a woman. I knew that my profession had been invented by men, and that men were in control of both our worlds, the one on earth, and the one in heaven. That men force women to sell their bodies at a price, and that the lowest paid body is that of a wife. All women are prostitutes of one kind or another.”

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Published September 15th 1997 by Zed Books (first published 1973)
Paperback, 112 pages
ISBN13: 9780862321109