Title: Hayley Soon
Author: Andrew Henley
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary LGBTQ
Pages: Print 192
Disclaimer: The contents of this review is solely my opinion and mine alone. A copy of this book was sent to me directly from the author in exchange for my honest review. The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher.
Hayley Soon is the tale of a Korean-American transgirl with a fractured mental health, obsession with pop culture, cosplay and a rapidly declining interest in her studies.
Featuring movies, music and a diverse cast all entangled in themes so dark you’ll need a flashlight, Hayley Soon puts the trans in transgressive fiction.
A copy of this book was sent to me by the author in exchange for my honest review. In the past, I have read novels that showcase the challenges faced by members of the LGBTQ community. These books shed light on the struggles that non-cisgender individuals face on an everyday basis. The author of this book tries to shed light on some of those challenges.
Hayley Soon is a short novel that focuses on the life of a Korean American transgender. Hayley struggles with finding a place where she belongs. She struggles with the challenges of embracing her body even if it isn’t what she wants it to be. She struggles with bullying from a former high school classmate and even going to the bathroom in public. Hayley has a hard time trying to accept herself for who she is and embracing her inner beauty. Many people have given her compliments on her appearance just as much as people have chosen to bash her appearance in person and online. Will she ever figure out where she belongs? Will her mother finally accept her? Or will everyone continue to refer to her as her birth name?
Overall, I liked the idea of this novel and the focus content but did not entirely like the delivery. I wanted more of the story with Hayley, and the ending left me questioning a lot of things. What happened to her after the incident? Why wasn’t her best friend more supportive? Why did Hayley keep the secret from her best friend? The story felt more like it was occurring in a high school versus on a college campus. The bullying felt a bit high school and did not feel realistic. I have seen contemporary novels that felt a bit more realistic, but this just felt like the information was not pulled from realistic experiences but from what someone thought it would be like. I felt as though there could have been more development of the storyline, a more developed ending, a bit more drama, more problem solving, and more realism. Of course, I understand that this is fiction novel, which it feels fictional, I just expected more.
The main character Hayley does struggle a lot in this book, and she is portrayed as a character who has a mental illness that has not been diagnosed. She struggles with anxiety, depression, identification issues, and self-esteem issues. If you are interested in reading a book about a transgender person who faces many daily struggles and finds unique ways to cope, then this is your novel. If you have experienced extreme depression and anxiety, this novel has a few triggers in here so I would read this at a cautious pace. If you are a person who just wants to read a unique story that challenges many theories, then you should pick this book.
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