Somebody Told Me
A novel of trauma, identity, and survival.After an assault, bigender seventeen-year-old Aleks/Alexis is looking for a fresh start―so they voluntarily move in with their uncle, a Catholic priest. In their new bedroom, Aleks/Alexis discovers they can overhear parishioners in the church confessional. Moved by the struggles of these "sinners," Aleks/Alexis decides to anonymously help them, finding solace in their secret identity: a guardian angel instead of a victim.But then Aleks/Alexis overhears a confession of another priest admitting to sexually abusing a parishioner. As they try to uncover the priest's identity before he hurts anyone again, Aleks/Alexis is also forced to confront their own abuser and come to terms with their past trauma.

Somebody Told Me Details

TitleSomebody Told Me
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 1st, 1970
Rating
GenreContemporary, Young Adult, LGBT

Somebody Told Me Review

  • Whitney Atkinson
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks Mia for the review copy! *Disclaimer: the author and I are friends, but thoughts are my own.I loved this book as a commentary on being bigender, recovering from sexual assault, and pointing out the hypocrisy in some church leadership. But in the end, I think it attempted to confront a topic far too massive to fit within a 250-page book. I loved Alexis/Aleks's voice, and I especially thought their relationship with their mom and dad was sweet. It's nice to read a book that isn't really a Thanks Mia for the review copy! *Disclaimer: the author and I are friends, but thoughts are my own.I loved this book as a commentary on being bigender, recovering from sexual assault, and pointing out the hypocrisy in some church leadership. But in the end, I think it attempted to confront a topic far too massive to fit within a 250-page book. I loved Alexis/Aleks's voice, and I especially thought their relationship with their mom and dad was sweet. It's nice to read a book that isn't really a coming-out story, so to see the main character so sure in themself was nice. I wish this focused more on their internal recovery rather than trying to solve other people's problems, because the book was quickly drowned in too much action in a short span of time. It's difficult to frame all my thoughts in a short review, but the best way I can describe it is that it just didn't feel realistic. The book went by so fast that it was difficult to feel anchored to the characters. I don't know how to wrap up this review other than saying everything wrapped up as expected, which was entirely convenient and undercooked, but still had a good message. I wish I'd liked this book more, but it just felt like a lot of inner monologue and rhetorical questions of the main character trying to figure out who is a good christian and who is a bad christian, when really they should have been focusing on themself.
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  • NAT.orious reads ☽
    January 1, 1970
    somebody told me this is a terrific book and since I've been on a "want to read spree" for like an hour, why not add another one?
  • Caleb Roehrig
    January 1, 1970
    SOMEBODY TOLD ME is one of the most thoughtful books Ive ever read about gender and religion, and what they mean to a persons sense of self. Through a protagonist whose gender is not fixed, Siegert does a magnificent job of exploring how expectationsfrom within and withoutshape the interaction between identity and society. This book is also just a really compelling and well-balanced slow-burn thriller, full of complex and fully-realized characters. (And I LIVE for LGBTQIA thrillers!) Im so glad SOMEBODY TOLD ME is one of the most thoughtful books I’ve ever read about gender and religion, and what they mean to a person’s sense of self. Through a protagonist whose gender is not fixed, Siegert does a magnificent job of exploring how expectations—from within and without—shape the interaction between identity and society. This book is also just a really compelling and well-balanced slow-burn thriller, full of complex and fully-realized characters. (And I LIVE for LGBTQIA thrillers!) I’m so glad I got to read this one!!
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  • Iris
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsI received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest reviewIt's been almost a month since I finished this book, and I still have no idea how to review it. I think this is for two reasons. (1) reading Somebody Told Me was honestly such a surreal experience and I don't entirely know what to make of it, and (2) this book focused so heavily on extremely personal experiences that I quite frankly cannot speak onThat said, this book was utterly fantastic, so while I'm going to keep 4.5 starsI received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest reviewIt's been almost a month since I finished this book, and I still have no idea how to review it. I think this is for two reasons. (1) reading Somebody Told Me was honestly such a surreal experience and I don't entirely know what to make of it, and (2) this book focused so heavily on extremely personal experiences that I quite frankly cannot speak onThat said, this book was utterly fantastic, so while I'm going to keep this short I'm going to list a few things that I loved about it: - Aleks/Alexis's voice was so strong and absolutely carried the book. I've rarely read any book with this strong a voice, and it utterly blew me away - The discussions on religion and abuse of religious power it had, without villainizing religion in any way - The side characters were so wonderfully fleshed out and alive - The discussions on fandom and how it can be toxic sometimes - I also thought the character growth we see in Aleks/Alexis was so powerful and beautifully writtenTWs: (view spoiler)[sexual assault, child sexual abuse, mention of grooming, mention of conversion therapy, homophobia, transphobia, internalized homophobia and transphobia, murder and attempted murder, misgendering (hide spoiler)]
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  • Clemlucian (🏳️‍🌈the villain's quest)
    January 1, 1970
    Instagram | youtubejust been approved on Netgalley for an arc of this
  • Alice Reeds
    January 1, 1970
    I was very lucky to have read this when it was still a draft and let me tell you, I immediately knew it had what it takes to make its way into readers hands. Mia has gotten even better and this story will blow you away.Somebody Told Me is a thought provoking story that doesn't shy away from asking all the hard hitting questions, a look behind the curtains of cosplay and the dark sides of fandom and teens, as well as offering a unique view on one of the most discussed and controversial topics I was very lucky to have read this when it was still a draft and let me tell you, I immediately knew it had what it takes to make its way into readers hands. Mia has gotten even better and this story will blow you away.Somebody Told Me is a thought provoking story that doesn't shy away from asking all the hard hitting questions, a look behind the curtains of cosplay and the dark sides of fandom and teens, as well as offering a unique view on one of the most discussed and controversial topics ever and outstanding representation of and insight into what it's truly like to be a bigender teen.
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  • Ricky
    January 1, 1970
    I can't believe how long it's been since Mia Siegert gave us Jerkbait...but I'll be damned if this book isn't as good. Nay, it'll be better! At least to me as a recovering Catholic and a queer kid still struggling to accept himself fully. But I'm for sure going to be all in for this book, I hope!
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  • Juan
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 maybe?I just cannot get over the fact that nothing about this books marketing seems to mention the fact that its very heavily about cosplay/conventions/fandom. The cosplay community is such an integral part of this book that the past trauma Aleks/Alexis has to come to terms with is something that could really only have happened to them at a convention. Which is not to say there arent still important takeaways from learning about that experience, because there are, but the situation presented 3.5 maybe?I just cannot get over the fact that nothing about this book’s marketing seems to mention the fact that it’s very heavily about cosplay/conventions/fandom. The cosplay community is such an integral part of this book that the “past trauma” Aleks/Alexis has to come to terms with is something that could really only have happened to them at a convention. Which is not to say there aren’t still important takeaways from learning about that experience, because there are, but the situation presented in the book is 100% con-specific.And it just feels like such a huge miss to not then market this book towards teens who go to cons and who engage with fandom, both online and in-person. Not everyone finds their best friends and their perfect community in fandom, and the cosplay community in particular struggles a LOT with navigating people’s genders and sexualities, as well as with objectification/consent/abuse/assault/etc., all of which are explored here in a way that’s real and eye-opening and could be so useful to younger people in these communities. But no, apparently that’s not the audience the publisher wanted this book to have.Whatever. I think this book could be important to a lot of people, but it wasn’t really for me personally. I had some issues with the writing being a bit simplistic, characters being a bit too much like caricatures of themselves, and plot posts/twists being overstated and obvious, but I think all of that can be chalked up to the fact that I’m outside of the intended age group for this book. It’s refreshing to see a depiction of fandom that acknowledges its darker sides and isn’t just the happy place where a character feels truly at home.
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  • Mae Crowe
    January 1, 1970
    Received a physical ARC from the publisher.Somebody Told Me is an absolute masterpiece of tone and introspection. If you're looking for a book that focuses primarily on the outward, this probably isn't the book for you. If you're looking for a book that centers on the inward and the thought processes behind our responses to the outward... It most certainly is the book for you.What does that mean?Essentially, it means that despite the very real world conflicts that occur in this novel, they're Received a physical ARC from the publisher.Somebody Told Me is an absolute masterpiece of tone and introspection. If you're looking for a book that focuses primarily on the outward, this probably isn't the book for you. If you're looking for a book that centers on the inward and the thought processes behind our responses to the outward... It most certainly is the book for you.What does that mean?Essentially, it means that despite the very real world conflicts that occur in this novel, they're not at the forefront of the story. Rather, the focus is on what goes on in Aleks/Alexis's head when they face these conflicts. What makes Somebody Told Me gripping is that it's reactionary - the reader focuses on the POV character's visceral reactions to the good and the bad that they experience as the story unfolds.This wouldn't work if Aleks/Alexis wasn't such a strong character. Luckily for us, they're a very strong character, with a distinct voice, distinct personality, and distinct problems. They also talk like an actual seventeen-year-old, which a lot of you know is a point of contention for me with some YA novels. I don't think this book would have worked quite as well without the first person narration, so kudos to Siegert for making the right call.Thematically, this book has a lot say on the Catholic church and religion in general. It's a blatant commentary on how canon law enables abuse of the church's power structure. Which... Yeah. Definitely true. It also refuses to paint religious people in an inherently bad light - certainly, there are those characters who use it to perpetrate disrespect and even abuse, but there are also those who legitimately find comfort in their faith and loathe the misuse that goes on under their noses. It's definitely nice to see that duality acknowledged, especially when most books I've read take it in one direction or the other.Also, Aleks/Alexis's journey to self-acceptance and seeking help for themself after their ordeal was very powerful to experience. The journey felt real, organic, and it feels good to see where the character is at the end of the book compared to the beginning.Somebody Told Me is a riveting exploration of identity, recovery, and responsibility. It tells us that forgiveness isn't always the answer: our traumas are our own to respond to and recover from, and we aren't responsible for the feelings of those who have hurt us. It condemns the underlying system of Catholicism that allows for abuse of power while also exploring the reasons people are drawn to it and how faith can coexist with queer identity.
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  • Hannah | Katarama Reads
    January 1, 1970
    I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, it just fell very, very flat for me.Synopsis:After an assault, bigender seventeen-year-old Aleks/Alexis is looking for a fresh start. They voluntarily move in with their uncle, a Catholic priest. In their new bedroom, Aleks/Alexis discovers they can overhear parishioners in the church confessional. Moved by the struggles of these "sinners," Aleks/Alexis decides to anonymously help them, finding solace in their secret identity: a I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, it just fell very, very flat for me.Synopsis:After an assault, bigender seventeen-year-old Aleks/Alexis is looking for a fresh start. They voluntarily move in with their uncle, a Catholic priest. In their new bedroom, Aleks/Alexis discovers they can overhear parishioners in the church confessional. Moved by the struggles of these "sinners," Aleks/Alexis decides to anonymously help them, finding solace in their secret identity: a guardian angel instead of a victim.But then Aleks/Alexis overhears a confession of another priest admitting to sexually abusing a parishioner. As they try to uncover the priest's identity before he hurts anyone again, Aleks/Alexis is also forced to confront their own abuser and come to terms with their past trauma.The premise of a bigender main character was actually something I was very excited about. This is the first book I have ever read that included a bigender character in any capacity, much less the main character. The importance of seeing Alexis/Aleks’ internal struggle was not lost on me, but I did find it to be a bit overbearing. The internal monologue going on had a tendency to muddle the storyline, and at times I actually forgot what the real plot was. I found this to be extremely frustrating, to the point where I thought about not finishing the book on several occasions. It felt like I was reading someone’s overly self-deprecating Tumblr diary and not an actual written novel.There’s also a huge hole in the plot around which the entire book is centered: Alexis/Aleks is overhearing conversations in a confessional through the vent in their room. Realistically, there’s absolutely no way this could happen. Confessional booths, though not always completely soundproof, have no ventilation specifically for this reason. I knew this going into the book and I was able to suspend my disbelief through most of it, but it got more and more tedious as I made my way through the storyline. Not only that, but after a certain point Alexis/Aleks seems to be purposely eavesdropping on these confessions, not just simply “overhearing” them, which kind of rubbed me the wrong way. A lot of Alexis/Aleks’ internal struggle seems to be with the fact that people are judging them for who they are, but they’re also very quick to judge others based off of things they aren’t even supposed to be hearing, as well. Perhaps there’s a reason behind it? I’m not sure, but hypocritical nuances like that tend to grind my gears.There are a lot of references in the book to modern jargon (kthxbye? Really?) that I don’t think will help this book age well, as well as an abundance of typos, incomplete and run-on sentences, punctuation and grammar errors, etc. All-in-all I really believe this book could have been better written. *I noticed that my copy did disclaim that it wasn’t the final form of the book, and I really do think it needs another run-through with an editor to fix these issues.*With all of that being said, I enjoyed the last 20% of the book when we finally got to the nitty-gritty of the plot. Even then, it felt a bit rushed and incomplete, but for me it saved the book and gave me at least something that I liked about it. I really do think this book would do well with a specific audience, but it just wasn’t for me.*Thank you to NetGalley for letting me read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Anniek
    January 1, 1970
    Somebody told me this book had a non-binary MC, and honestly, that was all I needed to know. The rep was unlike anything I've read before and I loved it. It was a very prominent part of the book as well, because Aleks/Alexis changes gender quite frequently, and they discussed their gender feels a lot, which was amazing to see represented.I did feel like this book was really slow to start. Halfway into it, I still had no clue what direction the book would take, or what exactly the plot was.That Somebody told me this book had a non-binary MC, and honestly, that was all I needed to know. The rep was unlike anything I've read before and I loved it. It was a very prominent part of the book as well, because Aleks/Alexis changes gender quite frequently, and they discussed their gender feels a lot, which was amazing to see represented.I did feel like this book was really slow to start. Halfway into it, I still had no clue what direction the book would take, or what exactly the plot was.That said, the tone of the book really appealed to me, and I had a really hard time putting it down. So despite the plot being slow to start, it was a very quick and engaging read.CWs: trauma, pedophilia, murder, abuse, sexual assault, (internalized) transphobia, misgendering, (internalized) homophobia, fetishization, bullying, menstruation
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  • Hayley
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book right from the beginning. I don't read a lot of novels that feature trans teens so it was an interesting chance of pace from what I'm used to. One of the things that I really enjoyed was how supportive Alex/Alexis' mother was in their transition, and how fiercely she stood up for her child against anyone even her own family. This gave it another nice change since I"m used to trans teens being oppressed in the few stories I read with them. This book starts off with a I really enjoyed this book right from the beginning. I don't read a lot of novels that feature trans teens so it was an interesting chance of pace from what I'm used to. One of the things that I really enjoyed was how supportive Alex/Alexis' mother was in their transition, and how fiercely she stood up for her child against anyone even her own family. This gave it another nice change since I"m used to trans teens being oppressed in the few stories I read with them. This book starts off with a huge problem of Alex/Alexis dealing with their persistent and unexpected changes between genders, not being accepted by their family as well as them being sent to spend the summer with their aunt and uncle. While they are with their relatives they realize that their bedroom is right next to the priests' confessional and they are able to hear all of the people confessing their sins. Alex/Alexis decides that it is up to them to try their best to help the people who's confessions theyhave unintentionally overheard. There were many things discussed in this book that really connected to me on a human level and made the characters really seem real not just an image from someone's brain. While the story was nice and light at parts it also covered on lots of dark subjects such as abuse, homophobia, and murder. This made it very different but a must read. I"m very glad that I got the chance to check out this book I would highly suggest it to anyone. I loved all of the twists in this book. Right when I thought I knew everything that was going to happen and was just trying to figure out what the author was going to talk about for the rest of the book I was thrown a huge curve ball that made me more invested and more confused about what was actually going on. Great read, so much better than I expected!
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  • Carolina
    January 1, 1970
    actual rating: 3.5/5if you're in the right state of mind to read about themes of sexual assault, homophobia, and transphobia in catholicism, then i highly recommend this one! not an easy read in the slightest, but very powerful in its message.
  • Kylie
    January 1, 1970
    I really, really admire and appreciate all the things that Mia writes about. She takes a lot of risks in her writing, and I hope that other readers will see that just as much as I do. So many interesting and important topics are brought ip in this book, and I think that's why it was so important and impactful for me. Here's to seeing more bigender characters in books! This was the first one I had ever read!
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  • Dill Werner
    January 1, 1970
    I am so fortunate to have been a critique partner and all-around writing buddy cheerleader alongside Mia for over two years now. We're the kind of friends that come to each other with plot help, and when she told me the concept of this book, how it would unfold, and the twists...I was hooked!I was excited to consult on certain issues, but also to learn more. How would this person relate to that person? Okay, but who is the one you really need to look out for? This is a story about a teen wanting I am so fortunate to have been a critique partner and all-around writing buddy cheerleader alongside Mia for over two years now. We're the kind of friends that come to each other with plot help, and when she told me the concept of this book, how it would unfold, and the twists...I was hooked!I was excited to consult on certain issues, but also to learn more. How would this person relate to that person? Okay, but who is the one you really need to look out for? This is a story about a teen wanting to do good things for people who are hard on their luck. At the same time, this leads to learning a horrible secret, a secret they know they must tell...but can they bring themself to turn in someone they've grown to trust?
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  • Jason Fischbach
    January 1, 1970
    This was a really fun one for me. It read quickly, which was impressive given how much of the subject matter was really foreign to me (I'm not so familiar with Catholicism or cosplay, or really any of the hobbies of anyone in the story). In fact, my favorite part was the opportunity to learn about some of the things I'm not so familiar with, especially the bigender protagonist. While I consider myself to be open-minded and allied, this was one self-identification that I just wasn't as familiar This was a really fun one for me. It read quickly, which was impressive given how much of the subject matter was really foreign to me (I'm not so familiar with Catholicism or cosplay, or really any of the hobbies of anyone in the story). In fact, my favorite part was the opportunity to learn about some of the things I'm not so familiar with, especially the bigender protagonist. While I consider myself to be open-minded and allied, this was one self-identification that I just wasn't as familiar with, and reading the story of Alexis/Aleks helped me understand it a bit better and will help me better interact with bigender folks in real life. I definitely recommend it for anyone who's considering whether this might be an appropriate identification for themselves, to not only learn but to realize they're not alone.While I really enjoyed Jerkbait, I think I enjoyed Somebody Told Me even more!
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  • Billie Parsons
    January 1, 1970
    I will be honest this book isn't the genre I typically read, however, I think that Mia Siegert did a great job and I look forward to more of her work. Gender and religion are two very complex topics of discussion in today's culture and In Somebody Told Me not only does the main character have to battle themselves with one of them, but they have to do it with both. Siegert takes risks with her writing and she does it right.
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  • Parag Kapadia
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: The author and i are good buddies. At least i'd like to think so. I hope we still are after this review at least. Oh boy....Let's start off with what i liked. Every scene where Alexis/Aleks was by themselves was impactful and insightful. Every time they confronted themselves in the mirror, or during unavoidable physiological events, felt illuminating. And as someone who has absolutely no point of reference for those living as bigender, i really liked those scenes. I liked seeing the Disclaimer: The author and i are good buddies. At least i'd like to think so. I hope we still are after this review at least. Oh boy....Let's start off with what i liked. Every scene where Alexis/Aleks was by themselves was impactful and insightful. Every time they confronted themselves in the mirror, or during unavoidable physiological events, felt illuminating. And as someone who has absolutely no point of reference for those living as bigender, i really liked those scenes. I liked seeing the struggle, not with society, or religion, but just with themselves. I also liked near the end where the two personalities (i suppose though the additional trauma of the climax) seemed to merge into one consciousness, at least for the time being. Which rose some interesting questions in me with respect to the catalyst which sparked Alexis toward becoming bigender in the first place.Also, those anime that are referenced all throughout the book aren't 'real', which i actually thought was rather neat. If i didn't read the end notes of the book, i wouldn't have realized and i thought that was a nice piece of worldbuilding. I could easily see those shows as contemporaries of Utena or something. Very cool.And now for things that didn't really work for me. To my mind there are three plots running concurrently. There's Aleks dealing with their assault, Alexis trying to reconnect with their estranged Aunt and Uncle while also confronting their beliefs, and there's the final thread of Raziel eavesdropping on confessions. I think, given the length of the novel, one of these three had to be cut as none of them seem to resolve very well. I took the assault to be a rather compelling plot thread. I don't know about you guys, but cons can get kinda funky depending on the time of day, and i don't care how hygienic you are, that's eighty people. Chances are good some of them needed to aquatint themselves with soap. Add to that the fact that this Lee fellow basically pimped out the main character and they were subsequently manhandled for lord knows how long, it's rough. This is all resolved at the end with a very strongly worded email. Now, this didn't need to have a violent confrontation, as even Aleks, the more aggressive personality, i don't think, is a necessarily violent person. Just wound up and a bit jumpy. But there's a difference between facing someone in person, and going at them through the barrier of a screen. Did it feel unresolved? I think an argument could be made. At the very least it felt undercooked. It didn't have the oomph that i thought the situation deserved.Every time Alexis interacted with their Aunt and Uncle was unfortunate to read. These wonderful confrontations and discussions were being set up about identity and societal legitimacy and faith, but every time one got going, it was abruptly dropped and the plot moved on. The passage where the Aunt reveals her cancer is never explored. Whatever progress might have been made as Alexis and their Aunt bond over sewing is never shown. And when the hard hitting question finally come out near the end they're just left unresolved in favor of the rapidly approaching ending. I think this would have been stronger had Alexis had their own relationship with some sort of faith. As it is they were just generally agnostic, and really couldn't care less whether they connected with their relatives or not. i wonder what would happen if they were also Catholic. How did they cope with it? How do they struggle with it? Do they perhaps confide in their more experienced relatives despite the hostility just for the sake of an answer? As it is, there were no stakes to this plot thread. This is equally true of Alexis' allies. Throughout the book they suggest that they support Aleks/Alexis while also being Catholic. I would have liked to see them maybe cite some scripture to give themselves some more 'credibility', as it were. I thought it was a bit too easy to just say they were alright with a person when the institution they belong to, broadly speaking, wouldn't be.Which brings me to the confessional plot. Others have mentioned that this seems fairly unlikely as confessionals are specifically made to be private booths, and a vent, to my mind at least, would be fairly visible if for no other reason than for maintenance. Also, i'm not a hundred percent sure but i think Aleks' room is on the second floor, and the church has its confessional, i assume, on the ground floor, which would likely put the vent somewhere at or above eye level. People would see it. This can be fixed though maybe a church that's falling into disrepair. There are cracks everywhere. No one pays it any mind because it's always been like that. Fundraisers are in place to fix it. Maybe Alexis doesn't get whole conversations, but snatches of information, adding to the ethical and moral grayness of the whole endeavor. As it is i was unconvinced by the guardian angel angle. They helped, maybe two people before the main plot of the book kicked in. That hardly sets a prescience or much of a pattern. And the way they went about their help seemed unrealistic. The community seems rather small as we don't have much evidence to the contrary. No one knows you exist unless you put your resume out there. It seems unlikely that job offers would come to you without you putting yourself out there first. And if you haven't been, that's a red flag. While i can't speak to the high end costume market, the speed with which the money was raised was a bit perplexing and could have used some more time to establish effort. I think its mentioned later on that Alexis sold some of their already made costumes, but that wasn't quite made clear in the beginning. I had it in my head that they made all new costumes in a matter of hours that racked up two thousand bucks. A thousand dollars toward a twenty five thousand dollar debt is well and good, but that message was direct evidence that this person's spiritual privacy was being violated. The man could be very devout, but i don't think even he quite expects angels, much less archangels to literally come down and render aid. Unless it's the end times. The situation between Jameson, Dimitri and head honcho, whose name escapes me, i think could have used a little more foreshadowing. Which, i accept isn't the easiest to do in first person as the main character literally has to be there or otherwise hear about it. It all just sort of blasts out in the last quarter of the book and is a bit disorienting.This can be fixed with more and smaller instances of Raziel rendering aid. All the time they flirt with getting caught and near misses from being revealed. All the while, rumors and suspicion mount. They get more and more snatches of information about the Jameson Dimitri situation. And all of that finally snowballs into the final arc of the book where it all finally catches up with Raziel. i wasn't looking for Batman here, but i think there could have been more tension.But then there's also the question of why someone who's looking to lay low and recover is willingly putting themselves out there and risking being revealed, really, on the very first day they showed up. This, i don't think, is very well explored. They just do it cause they feel some imperative to? Okay, why?Which brings me to the voice in their head. The questions in the back of the book seem to suggest that the voice is one, the other, or perhaps even a burgeoning third personality. I didn't really get this impression as it was either being a petulant child, slinging the lowest level insults i couldn't laugh harder at, or it was being limpwristedly supportive. I didn't feel like this was a genuine voice to acknowledge in Aleks' mind, but just some kind of psychotic fissure to be healed at some point. Though even then, it's hard to tell when progress was being made, it had such swings in intent.I'm not honestly sure why all of that couldn't just be normal internal dialog. I think Alexis has enough on their plate than to add voices in their head. I even read a few chapters ignoring the voice and i didn't feel i lost anything for it. As a consequence of the first half of the book resolving very conveniently, and the emphasis on the convention lore, which i thought could have been cut down significantly seeing as it didn't actually have as much bearing on the overall plot as maybe it once did, the whole book reads less like a novel about a wounded bigender person looking to recover and find some mooring in life, and more like an overburdened public service announcement. But why did i get so up in arms about this? I gave the author's previous outing, Jerkbait a star rating and moved on, and that had its flaws too. I think i came to expect too much from this book. I was very excited to read about a bigender person as i have absolutely no point of reference for that, and i was excited to learn about it. I was excited to feel the ups and downs of it, the discomfort, the mistrust, the uncertainty, the intolerance. I wanted to go through those fires with them so that i could emerge on the other side with a better understanding of a wider slice of reality.And it did that, but only in fits and spurts.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. This book was just fantastic. The writing is great, and the story is enthralling. Alexis/ks is a great main character. This was my first exposure to a bigender character, and reading about Alexis/ks's struggle to fit in and deal with past trauma really added depth to the story. As a self-described "recovering Catholic" who went to school with nuns, I loved the way Bernie and Joey were portrayed here. Their friendship, their easy rapport, the fact that they weren't always formal all brought Wow. This book was just fantastic. The writing is great, and the story is enthralling. Alexis/ks is a great main character. This was my first exposure to a bigender character, and reading about Alexis/ks's struggle to fit in and deal with past trauma really added depth to the story. As a self-described "recovering Catholic" who went to school with nuns, I loved the way Bernie and Joey were portrayed here. Their friendship, their easy rapport, the fact that they weren't always formal all brought up some good memories. I'm so glad I read this.* Comments are based on an ARC.
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  • Jonne
    January 1, 1970
    I was given an e-ARC of this book, this in no way affected my opinion. The authors note in the end of the book started with this:I wanted to write a book about the ongoing problems in the Catholic Church without attacking Catholics for their faith. Thats exactly what the author did. Theres plenty of themes, and aspects to this book: it discusses religion, gender (more specifically being bigender in todays society), military parent, fandoms and cosplays, social media, trauma, abuse, to name a I was given an e-ARC of this book, this in no way affected my opinion. The author’s note in the end of the book started with this:“I wanted to write a book about the ongoing problems in the Catholic Church without attacking Catholics for their faith.” That’s exactly what the author did. There’s plenty of themes, and aspects to this book: it discusses religion, gender (more specifically being bigender in today’s society), military parent, fandoms and cosplays, social media, trauma, abuse, to name a few. It’s not afraid to discuss dark themes and questions. This book is really compelling, and it gives is great insight on bigender teens and how society affects their identity. I’m very grateful to have read this one early.
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  • Kyle
    January 1, 1970
    A lot going on in this book. Definitely worth reading as it makes the reader question many things which is a very good thing.
  • Ocean
    January 1, 1970
    Aleks/Alexis is a troubled and complex character who is dealing with their own trauma while also trying to help other people after overhearing confessions. At first, they try to help people who are struggling, but by the end of the book they are trying to bring down someone who committed and awful crime that was being covered up by the church. Their inner turmoil throughout the book was a big deal and they had a lot to overcome, I think the topics of gender and trauma were dealt with delicately. Aleks/Alexis is a troubled and complex character who is dealing with their own trauma while also trying to help other people after overhearing confessions. At first, they try to help people who are struggling, but by the end of the book they are trying to bring down someone who committed and awful crime that was being covered up by the church. Their inner turmoil throughout the book was a big deal and they had a lot to overcome, I think the topics of gender and trauma were dealt with delicately. I wouldn't say I enjoyed this book, just because 'enjoyed' doesn't feel like the right word considering the heavy topics, but it's an important story and I'm glad I read it. I would also recommend it to others.
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  • grace o'brien
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked this book, it was eye opening to many issues and it told me more about the catholic faith. The fact that Aleks/Alexis is bigender also was interesting as it showed the change between the two and the difference in the person themselves when they are each person.I found that the blurb was quite deceptive though as the point in the blurb didn't come up in the book until I was 62% into the book.Overall I thought it was a really good book and definitely would read again if I had the I really liked this book, it was eye opening to many issues and it told me more about the catholic faith. The fact that Aleks/Alexis is bigender also was interesting as it showed the change between the two and the difference in the person themselves when they are each person.I found that the blurb was quite deceptive though as the point in the blurb didn't come up in the book until I was 62% into the book.Overall I thought it was a really good book and definitely would read again if I had the time.
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  • Mindy Floyd
    January 1, 1970
    This book interested me from the very beginning just because I personally dont think theres a lot of LBGTQIA+ stories out on the market right now. It was very interesting getting to read a book from their state of mind and learn more about them. This story was pretty great and opened my eyes up to a lot of things that they face in life and it also had a few twists & turns along the way! This book interested me from the very beginning just because I personally don’t think there’s a lot of LBGTQIA+ stories out on the market right now. It was very interesting getting to read a book from their state of mind and learn more about them. This story was pretty great and opened my eyes up to a lot of things that they face in life and it also had a few twists & turns along the way!
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  • Helene
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come
  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.I definitely have mixed thoughts on this book, but overall I enjoyed a lot of aspects of it.The novel follows Aleks/Alexis, a bigender teen who moves in with their religious aunt and uncle after a traumatic event. They realize that they can hear the confessions from a vent in their bedroom, so they decide to help the people they overhear. The things I liked: I always appreciate good LGBT representation, Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.I definitely have mixed thoughts on this book, but overall I enjoyed a lot of aspects of it.The novel follows Aleks/Alexis, a bigender teen who moves in with their religious aunt and uncle after a traumatic event. They realize that they can hear the confessions from a vent in their bedroom, so they decide to help the people they overhear. The things I liked: I always appreciate good LGBT representation, and this is the first book I've read with a bigender character. The distinct differences between Aleks and Alexis were clear, and it helped to really understand the character. This book tackles some delicate subjects, including homophobia/transphobia and sexual molestation in the Catholic church, and I feel it was done well. It was not a blanket condemnation of Catholicism, including some great characters who were diverse in terms of race and sexuality while still having that strong faith in God. There were also a lot of nerdy references, which I liked. More than once, I found myself Googling to see if the animes mentioned in the novel were real because they sounded like something I'd sit down and watch right now. The things I didn't like so much: I had a really hard time suspending disbelief for several things in the story. I won't give away anything major in terms of later plot points, but the idea that a confessional would be so poorly designed that people could be heard clearly through an air vent in a connected house just seems highly unrealistic to me. Also, I am assuming that a lot of these things were only confessed to the priest. If that is the case, how did he not catch flak when things were happening because of Aleks/Alexis being Raziel? Surely at least one of the people would have connected the dots to their confession. The entire ending of the book was a bit lackluster for me. It felt so strange reading the book to see the main character suspecting the person they did when it was abundantly clear who the villain was from the very moment he appeared. I cannot tell if we as the readers were supposed to be surprised at that reveal, but I was just confused that Aleks/Alexis could have possibly suspected the other person.All told, I still liked the book. It kept my attention and there were some good characters who made me want to keep reading. I liked the splashes of fandom (even the dark side of it that is brought up). I would definitely read more by this author.
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  • Dustin Street
    January 1, 1970
    Shew.Wow.What a ride.Theres just...so much to unpack here. I knew going into this novel that it wasnt going to be an easy, feel-good read. Alexis/Aleks is a bigender teen, and they are doing their best to cope after a harrowing trauma.Mia Siegert, who was one of my creative writing professors at SNHU, does such a masterful job at weaving a compelling story around that trauma, and explores it through the lens of a character trying to find themself, while simultaneously navigating the rules and Shew.Wow.What a ride.There’s just...so much to unpack here. I knew going into this novel that it wasn’t going to be an easy, feel-good read. Alexis/Aleks is a bigender teen, and they are doing their best to cope after a harrowing trauma.Mia Siegert, who was one of my creative writing professors at SNHU, does such a masterful job at weaving a compelling story around that trauma, and explores it through the lens of a character trying to find themself, while simultaneously navigating the rules and stuff customs of the Catholic Church while living with their priest uncle.After a fairly innocuous arc in the first act of the story that finds Alexis/Aleks playing guardian angel for parishioners in need (after accidentally-on-purpose listening to their confessions through a vent in their room), they stumble onto a much more pressing mystery...one that propels the story into much darker territory.It’s territory that calls the behavior and complicity of the Catholic Church into question, but not in a way that is disrespectful to faith and things many people consider sacred. Siegert very artful tackles the dichotomy between accountability for actions and devotion to one’s beliefs, even penning an author’s note at the end to state her intentions in crafting the plot the way she did.There are some very real, and occasionally bright, happy moments in the book. I especially love Alexis’s/Aleks’s friendly relationship with Dima, and her flowering crush on the nun, Sister Bernadette.But what really stands out to me more than anything about this novel is that Aleks/Alexis is a REAL and WHOLE person. They are not some caricature, not some didactic standard bearer for the queer community, nor even the bigender community. There is not assumption that they must be a perfectly predictable queer character. Siegert’s expert crafting shows us readers that queer characters get to mess up. They get to do everything wrong. They get to realize the bad stuff in their lives and fix it. They are worthy of our attention because they are just figuring it out like all the straight, cisgendered characters who have populated the literary canon for centuries.This was an important read. Definitely check it out—and prepare to be entertained AND challenged at the same time.
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  • Annette Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    This is a difficult book to give feedback on, because while there were things I really loved about it, there were also several things I had issues with. The basic premise of the book is that our main character Aleks/Alexis is a bigender teen who moves in with her Aunt and Uncle to get away from some trauma in their past. However the twist in this particular tale is that her Uncle is a Catholic priest who converted several years ago, and he and his wife do not support or understand Aleks/Alexis This is a difficult book to give feedback on, because while there were things I really loved about it, there were also several things I had issues with. The basic premise of the book is that our main character Aleks/Alexis is a bigender teen who moves in with her Aunt and Uncle to get away from some trauma in their past. However the twist in this particular tale is that her Uncle is a Catholic priest who converted several years ago, and he and his wife do not support or understand Aleks/Alexis since they began living as a bigender queer person. Determined to leave the past behind, Aleks/Alexis agrees to living by their strict rules , but when they happen to overhear some of the parishoner's confessions they decide to try and help, until a shocking confession reveals a dark and criminal secret with the power to destroy lives. First up, the good. I loved the fact that the book has a bigender main character, and that it explains very clearly what it is like to live when that switch is outside your control. Aleks/Alexis is a well developed character, and as their backstory is revealed it poses some interesting questions about gender identity, consent and cyberbullying for the reader to ponder. Now for the bad. The central idea of having a character overhear the confessions is extremely unlikely, most are still held in sealed confessional boxes with screens to ensure privacy for both the priest and the petitioner. and certainly not in rooms with vents into the living space of the priest. Incidentally most Catholic churches do not have the priest's home attached, its a completely separate building. I also found the lack of growth of Aleks/Alexis to be a problem, they made sweeping assumptions over and over again, and never seemed to learn to step back, slow down and think clearly. I also thought that the conclusion of the book was a little over dramatic, which strained the credibility of the whole thing. I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own,
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  • Nicole Field
    January 1, 1970
    This novel is so much more than a book to do with a bigender character. I mean, their being bigender is the inciting incident that leads to Aleks/Alexis living with their uncle and aunt, against their mum's best wishes mind you. Aunt Anne Marie and Uncle Bryan are late converters to the Catholic church. Bryan is a priest there. What was really interesting--and written in Mia's author's note at the end--was the way that Alexis/Aleks first showed themselves to be uncomfortable with the overt This novel is so much more than a book to do with a bigender character. I mean, their being bigender is the inciting incident that leads to Aleks/Alexis living with their uncle and aunt, against their mum's best wishes mind you. Aunt Anne Marie and Uncle Bryan are late converters to the Catholic church. Bryan is a priest there. What was really interesting--and written in Mia's author's note at the end--was the way that Alexis/Aleks first showed themselves to be uncomfortable with the overt Catholicism and yet, from the very first meeting with Sister Bernadette, it became quite clear that it was not what they thought. Sister Bernadette is such an important character in this book, not just because of the crush Alexis/Aleks has on her, but because she shows a side of Catholicism that I've not seen present in many LGBT books: The way her faith with God is is shown to be incredibly personal and not dependent on converting everyone else around her. It's not about homophobia or transphobia. And it isn't suddenly perverted by one man of faith's criminal actions towards a minor character (both in presence in the story, and in age). Another first in this novel, at least in mainstream literature, is that the main character of this novel is bigender. Towards the end of the book, they are even beginning to question whether there are more genders within them that they haven't yet explored. This is such a wonderful thing that's explored throughout the novel, but not made a big deal of. Mia writes about this changing gender within one person, and the difficulties that come given that it's not a gender expression that a lot of people even within trans and nonbinary circles talk about. It's a very personal character note for me given that Mia was the first bi- or multigender person I spoke to after realising that was my own gender expression.
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  • Morgan
    January 1, 1970
    This is a hard one for me to review, especially since I've been handing out 4.5 / 5 stars left and right lately. At 3 stars, I ultimately do still recommend the book, I'm just going to add some warnings. Mainly, the author seemed to have A Certain Plot in mind, and they were determined to make that plot play out no matter how unrealistic and flat out dumb Ale/ks/xis's actions needed to be to get us there. The confession from the abuser-priest doesn't happen until 63% through. I thought the plot This is a hard one for me to review, especially since I've been handing out 4.5 / 5 stars left and right lately. At 3 stars, I ultimately do still recommend the book, I'm just going to add some warnings. Mainly, the author seemed to have A Certain Plot in mind, and they were determined to make that plot play out no matter how unrealistic and flat out dumb Ale/ks/xis's actions needed to be to get us there. The confession from the abuser-priest doesn't happen until 63% through. I thought the plot would be more like, a few chapters of set up, the confession kicks it off, and then the main plot was finding out who the abuser is. But that doesn't even happen until over halfway through the book AND the identity of the abuser is obvious. It is Obvious(tm). You'll read the chapter where he's introduced and know that's him. I understand there needed to be a red herring to create any plot at all other than "yes officer that's the one," but when it was so Obvious(tm), the red herring just felt stupid. It make the MC look incredibly stupid. The mystery was the bad sort of stressful where I was practically yelling at my computer screen IT'S HIM IT'S THAT GUY LEAVE THE OTHER MAN ALONE IT'S HIIIIM instead of the good sort of stressful you expect in a thriller / suspense. Otherwise, yeah, it was pretty good. Ale/ks/xis's voice was a really good character voice, I liked all the side characters (other than the abuser, obv), the plot overall--what it was meant to be--was good. Unfortunately, the author just ... didn't really know how to pull it off, I guess. It IS really difficult to write a mystery in which there are enough clues for the reveal to make sense and let the reader possibly solve it on their own, without it being Obvious(tm), but this book fell sadly into the latter category.
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