by Alana S. Portero
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Pub Date 23 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 18 Jun 2024
"I urge you, read Alana S. Portero's Bad Habit to fully grasp the degree of adversity, pain, and danger endured by those growing up trans." –Pedro Almodóvar
Combining the raw realism and vulnerability of Shuggie Bain and Detransition, Baby with the poignant sensibility of Pedro Almodóvar, a staggering coming-of-age novel deeply rooted in the struggles of a trans woman growing up in Madrid.
Anchored by the voice of its sweet and defiant narrator, Bad Habit casts a trans woman’s trying youth as a heartfelt odyssey. Raised in an animated yet impoverished blue-collar neighborhood, Alana S. Portero’s protagonist struggles to find her place. As the city around her changes–the heroin epidemic that ravages Madrid through the '80s and '90s, rallying calls of worker solidarity and the pulsing beat of the city's night scene– she becomes increasingly detached from the world and, most crucially, herself.
Yet through her eyes, the streets and people of Madrid are illuminated by a poetry absent from everyday life. And by this guiding light she begins to plot her own course, from Margarita, the local trans woman whose unspoken kinship both captivates and frightens her, to Jay, her first love and source of an inevitable heartbreak, to the irrepressible diva Caramel. As she forges ahead, she sets her compass to a personal north star: endeavoring to find herself. But with each step forward, she is confronted by a violence she doesn’t yet know how to counter; in this exciting, often terrifying, world each choice is truly a matter of life and death.
With her first novel, Alana S. Portero strikingly underscores the ties between gender and class, the search for identity, and the power of sisterhood and community. Gentle but blistering, Bad Habit is a mesmerizing story of self-realization that speaks to the outsider in all of us.
Translated from the Spanish by Mara Faye Lethem