Cover Image: Freeing Finch

Freeing Finch

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Member Reviews

I like that this book is about more than just what it is like to be trans. Finch is struggling with more than just getting her family to accept her as a girl. It's really about what it means to be family, accepting ourselves. It's about drawing boundaries and finding your way forward after a loss. The overall scenario makes it's relatability pretty narrow but it's still a fairly interesting read.
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Oh boy, how to put this. This book is about a trans protagonist but it doesn't feel like the author has really internalized how bad transphobia feels to the person on the receiving end of it. Finch is trans. Her mother is dead, leaving her with only one supportive adult in her life: Maddy, the grandmotherly next-door neighbor. Her stepfather and her stepfather's new wife misgender her constantly, but Maddy tells her that she should appreciate that they love her and are doing their best because... they're a better option than her deadbeat bio-dad, who took off after her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Finch is terrified that puberty will out her to her classmates, who already can tell she's different somehow and bully her, and that she won't be able to get blockers because, again, her guardians don't believe in being trans (and have started "suggesting" religious conversion therapy). THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE HORRORSHOW, even before Finch's stepfather physically assaults her (but only once, and he's sorry, so it doesn't come up again). But Finch manages to win an abused stray dog's trust! This is a metaphor for how her step-parents eventually come around and start to support her in the end! So it's all okay! NOPE NOT OKAY. Refusing to accept your child's gender identity is abuse! It makes your kid suicidal! Why was this little girl left in the care of people who didn't believe she was a girl, why is this described as a final act of love from her mother who wanted to make sure she was taken care of, why is Finch left to suffer the horrific fear that she'll be forced to experience puberty as a boy because nobody tells her that Maddy is her legal guardian! (I'm not even getting into a number of other terrifying things that happen to Finch including Maddy almost dying, her one friend who knows and accepts that she's trans and protects her from bullies abruptly moving away, and her dog almost getting put down by animal control.) I'm just. So tired. An adult's redemption arc doesn't trump the trauma they inflicted on a child before they realized they were wrong. The author is not trans, and they don't seem to have workshopped this idea with people who transitioned in childhood. I know that this is a (horrible) experience that real people have, but it's frustrating to read it in a kids' book that doesn't seem to realize how horrible it is. As a final note, the writing is fine, it's just the content that's giving me pause.
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Freeing Finch comes from the mind that brought us Hurt Go Happy. Ginny Rorby has been known for her stories that seem to touch the hearts of its readers, and Freeing Finch is no exception.
	 Finch always knew that she was a girl, even from a young age. It didn't matter what her birth certificate or classmates said. She knew who she was. This is a fact that held true, even as her father left, even as her mother passed away. And even as her stepparents resisted what she fundamentally knew.
	Finch also knew that she was going to help and protect the people and animals closest to her heart. For friendship should always be rewarded with friendship. Loyalty with loyalty. It's the only way to survive a world such as this. 

	“Absolutely. Hundreds. Thousands, even. You're what your are in your head and heart, Finch, not what is says on your birth certificate.”

	Warnings: Freeing Finch covers a couple of heavier subjects. The biggest of which is bullying, which Finch faces a decent amount of. She has to deal with it from her classmates, and at the time her stepparents and other adults as well. Their transphobia bleeds into the way they treat Finch. Also in this novel, there are some animals that do get hurt. But they'll be okay, I promise.
	
	Freeing Finch was a heartfelt and delightful read. It followed the young Finch on her journey, showing us everything she comes up against. And some of those events were truly horrible and heartbreaking. No child should have to lose their parents in these ways, yet Finch did. And yet she survived and perhaps became even stronger because of it.
	This novel was the embodiment of a character driven story. Finch was the focal point of every moment, with her emotions or actions setting a baseline on how the readers should react. It was beautifully written.
	This novel is nuanced and oh so emotional. Finch's struggle was down to earth in the way that many people can relate to – regardless of if they are in the exactly same situation or not. It's impossible not to feel empathetic to dear Finch.
	Ginny Rorby did an absolutely wonderful job with Freeing Finch. I don't think I've had a novel tug at my heartstrings quite as Freeing Finch did. At least, not anytime recently. And for that I know this novel will hold a special place in my heart.
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