Gene has been raised in wealth and comfort. Though she doesn’t particularly enjoy the embroidery lessons and balls and other expectations of a young woman that come with a life in the gentry. Gene would much rather spend her time cavorting with her brother, and climbing anything and everything. Her ‘boyish’ interests annoy and worry Gene’s parents, especially her mother, who s worried about Gene’s “condition”.
This condition, which Gene has been taught to be ashamed of, is not an affliction at all. Gene is intersex (though that word is never explicitly used in the book). The only people who know are her parents who want to find a ‘cure’, all the doctors she’s seen, and her brother, who is the only person who knows and doesn’t treat her differently. When Gene’s parents decide to take drastic action to ‘fix’ her without her consent, Gene makes the decision to run away from home and take her chances out in the world.
Gene becomes Micah Grey, living on the streets until he convinces the proprietor of the visiting circus to let him join the troupe and train to be a trapeze acrobat. In the circus Micah finds himself welcomed by some and mistrusted as an outsider by others. But as he learns the art of areal acrobatics he slowly finds comfort in this new identity. And even finds romance with one of the circus members.
But this new life can’t last. Both Gene’s parents and the police are searching for her, and the circus itself is not as safe as it seems. As things begin to come to a head Gene must decide whether to return home, continue a life as Micah, or perhaps chose some other path.
I really enjoyed this book, which is the first in a series. There are far too few novels with intersex characters or genderfluid characters. Gene is both, and her story and she explores her gender is a fascinating and important one. I am very glad I came across this book and look forward to reading the rest of the series.
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