Entertainment » Books

Saving Alex

by Noe Kamelamela
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Mar 1, 2016
Saving Alex

I don't think I'll ever be able to process everything in "Saving Alex." There is a section of true crime that is simply abuse against females: not just triumphant tales, but also what happens when a victim's attempts to break free are not successful. Books about men's survival or murder, frequently related to class or race or perceived femininity, also litter true crime. These books and the books that rarely exist for our fallen or traumatized transpeople are memorials to the marginalized in our society. I never felt compelled by a sense of duty to read any of them, but I saw this book's description and I couldn't stop myself from signing on.

Everything about this account is a trigger warning for me. It's entirely possible that I could have ended up Mormon and in a family like Alex's, certainly the roulette pill of life could have landed in a different pocket. My parents let me be for the most part even as I am not as they had imagined. For Alex, her parents' expectations are a heavy burden, but she never realizes how heavy until one day, believing that they truly care for her, she tells them a truth about herself that she has been struggling with: she is a homosexual.

The narrative is a lot less bitter and more matter of fact than I had expected of someone who had been legally abandoned and physically abused by complete strangers.

She is abandoned and enslaved to people she has never met before who promise to cure her sexuality. I'm wary of cultures that value both ignorance and lack of critical thinking: why demand absolute honesty and allow for only one right answer? The cruel hypocrisy and her family's consent to torture is dispiriting, but Alex focuses on freedom, both the physical and spiritual, as hard as she can. The narrative is a lot less bitter and more matter of fact than I had expected. This is still not a happy story.

If you are young and you are gender nonconforming or questioning, please think about your physical safety. I give you permission in all situations to do what you have to do to stay alive and safe: keep your business encrypted, hide your personal items, destroy evidence, pretend the best you can and consider it your training for the Oscars or Tonys. Insist that you are a private person, that you are just shy, that of course you think so and so is so ridiculously hot. If the only person you can save is yourself, then save yourself. You can roll the dice now on whether or not your family is a bunch of idiots, but I recommend gambling only from a safe distance.

"Saving Alex"
Alex Cooper with Joanna Brooks
HarperOne
https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062374608/saving-alex
$24.99 (hardcover) $21.99 (audiobook) $12.99 (ebook)

Noe Kamelamela is a reader who reads everything and a writer who writes
very little.


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