Big-hearted Novel, Sweetie of a Protagonist
The day Peyton Honeycutt gets his first period it’s a near calamity. Peyton was born female but is a boy. He holes up in the girls’ bathroom, too ashamed to come out. There he meets new girl, Tara Parks. And Tara becomes the object of his desire.
Early on Peyton and Tara meet resistance. When the skating teacher insists that Peyton get in the girls line and skate with a boy for pairs skating, Peyton at first refuses. And then finally, knuckles under to the tyranny of rigid gender lines. But Peyton can’t keep from longing for Tara.
“My eyes rarely left Tara and the broad-shouldered guy she skated with. He wasn’t able to lift her. He didn’t even try. Would he do not one but two-hundred push ups every night before bed for the sole purpose of one day being to lift her like I had? Doubtful.”
And then there is Tara’s small-minded mother and Peyton’s own mother who more than anything wants for Peyton, born Katherine, to be a girl. Eventually, Peyton takes them all on in his quest to be true to himself.
Author Jennie Wood draws on her own experience as a girl drawn to girls growing up in a small town in North Carolina. As a teenager she worked at the local theater. She served popcorn to her boy cousins and their dates, and then watched them make out from her perch in the projection booth.
That sense of isolation and yearning infuses A Boy Like Me as we follow Peyton’s difficult passage through middle and high school, until Peyton finally discovers who loves a boy like him.