Is gender really important?
That is the question posed by Static.
Two things drew me to this book, the first being a good GR friend wrote a fantastic review and, the second this topic is out of my comfort zone and I wanted to push my envelope, so to speak.
Author: L.A. Witt
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
From the Publisher
Damon Bryce is worried sick when he doesn’t hear from his girlfriend after she visits her estranged parents, but when he checks up on her, he’s in for the shock of his life: She’s a shifter, part of a small percentage of the population who can shift genders at will. Thanks to her parents, though, she’s been forcibly given an implant that leaves her static—unable to shift—and male.
Alex Nichols desperately wants the implant removed, but getting it out isn’t nearly as easy as putting it in. The surgery is expensive and dangerous. Left in, the implant carries its own set of risks, with the potential to cripple or even kill him. On top of that, he’s carefully kept his identity a secret from more people in his life than just Damon, and his parents aren’t the only ones appalled by shifters.
Stripped of half his identity and facing serious physical effects and social ramifications, Alex needs Damon more than ever, but he doesn’t see how their relationship can get through this unscathed.
Especially if Alex is a static male permanently.
Let me qualify my earlier statement about this being out of my comfort zone, “this” being the transgendered. I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying I have a hard time wrapping my mind around transgenderism. I’ve had numerous conversations, read articles, seen the popular movies and even a few documentaries and finally narrowed my confusion down to this: I have a hard time separating gender and sexuality. I think most of the things I’ve read or seen about transgenderism have focused on discrimination, surgeries and how expensive they or how happy the people are or aren’t before, during and after the surgery rather than the mentality. I need to understand the thought process behind feelings or what motivates actions for me to “get it”. I’m not going to perpetrate and say I completely get it after having read this, but I will say I get it a lot more than I ever have before.
“No. No, it didn’t. My genders are up here.” I tapped my temple with one finger. “Being a shifter just means I can adjust my body to match.”
Static is categorized as transgender and, I have to say, I think Ms. Witt presented the whole issue of gender identity brilliantly with the use of the shifter theme. Yes, Alex is a shifter. If anyone else just heard the True Blood theme song, raise your hand. I digress. Anyway, Alex is a shifter; there are apparently different levels of shifter and Alex falls into the 50/50 category meaning half the time he’s male, the other half female. Static takes a compelling look at gender, relationships, prejudice, family dynamics, bigotry, religion and the difficulties associated with adhering to cultural standards.
Alex’s bigoted and cult brainwashed mother and stepfather drug him one night and have their pastor perform an illegal procedure on him which prevents him from shifting from his male form. And you know what? As hella fucked up as it sounds this is, in many ways, the best thing that’s ever happened to him. Ms. Witt could’ve easily turned Static into rage lit about all the zealots and haters in the world, instead it became about finding love, support and acceptance in unexpected places. Is there discrimination and asshattery? Yes. Do douchecanoes cross Alix’s path? You bet. It wouldn’t be credible or authentic if there weren’t; it would be a utopian society which is only realistic in a Disney film. I use the term “realistic” loosely here.
Alex has struggled most of his life with depression, loneliness, despair and feeling uncomfortable in his own skin. His circle of friends who actually know he’s a shifter is small. Very small. Microscopic in fact. He’s been in a committed relationship with Damon for almost 2 years and has somehow kept it from him. He has struggled with suicide attempts, cutting and uses alcohol as a crutch far too often, all in an effort to keep his secret and/or as a means of escape. He’s moody, has a tendency to shut down and shut people out and has an unhealthy amount of self-loathing. In short, he’s a mess, but you can’t help but feel for him.
And no matter how much I wanted to convince myself I could handle it if he left, the fact was, I needed Damon. I needed him, and I wanted him, and fuck if I wasn’t stuck in a body I couldn’t ask him to want.
Damon is wonderful. Imagine you drive to your girlfriend’s house after she’s not answered the phone or called for hours only to have the door opened by a bleary eyed, sleep mussed guy in sweat pants. How would you react? He is angry and hurt initially, but it quickly turns to concern. He’s learned to read Alex over the course of their relationship and puts up with her, now him, and those little idiosyncrasies cannot be explained away as coincidence. It’s a bumpy road for these two but the bottom line is they love each other no matter the package. Still, Damon struggles mightily with the implications of having a boyfriend after 2 years and considering he’s hetero… it’s a leap, but inside the male exterior is Alex, the person he fell in love with. He just has to find a way to move beyond the exterior since he can’t seem to leave Alex.
The most compelling and emotional aspect of Static is that it tells the story from both of their perspectives. All of it is realistic, authentic and complex, as it should be. There is angst aplenty and it’s marvelously written.The secondary characters aside from the cray cray parents were all tremendous and added to the overall message of Static which is a message of hope for the future. That things will change; not everyone is a bigot; some people will actually give you the shirt off their back if you’re in need and sometimes you find support in the unlikeliest of places.
I hesitate to use the word ‘important’ when referencing a romance novel, but I believe it’s apropos here. If nothing else, it’s certainly informative.
Where to Buy
I would like to thank Riptide for providing me with a copy of Static in exchange for my honest review.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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