I want to begin by saying that this was a difficult book for me to read. Knowing that someone lived through many of the things that the main character, Elliott, did made me quite uneasy. I went through periods of depression and would have to stop reading for awhile. I found the account to be at times harrowing, and even triggering, in some cases. The writing is awesome—There is no doubt DeLine has a style that will make you lose yourself in the pages. Everything goes together very smoothly, and during the good times I would not want to put the book down. It was pretty different and contained a raw, contrastive realism compared to his other books.
Elliott’s struggle with doctors and nurses resonated with me in a funny way—It is not that I have had trouble with medical staff necessarily, but their dismissiveness and critical attitudes felt similar to how people in my life have acted towards me. The nurses who turned up their noses felt hauntingly realistic, and we all know the constant unwanted lecturing that happens to so many trans people.
I loved watching Elliott grow as a person. He keeps plugging along, trying and trying again to connect with the people around him in the only ways he knows how. His journey was portrayed with a fresh sense of urgency; I felt trapped as I read through his days, wondering how he could pull himself out of his loneliness.
The one letdown, I found, was a lack of development in the last section. It read more like a quick epilogue, rather than an equal section in the story. It was not that much shorter, but the pace seemed to pick up and left me feeling as though I got only a glimpse at this new, healthier part of Elliott’s life. I thought that after having endured the pain of all his trials and dejections, we deserved a little more of the light at the end of the tunnel. Overall, this was a roiling journey written with style and wit. I enjoyed the cellphone screencaps and photos—They made me feel closer to the story, as if I were actually watching it unfold. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a tale of adventure and curiosity; of the realization that we all deserve something more than what we have been dealt.