Kim Fu’s novel, For Today I am a Boy tells the life story of Peter Huang. Born in Fort Michel, a fictional Ontario town, Huang has three siblings of which he is the third born. Peter’s father always wanted a boy and after two girls he almost lost hope. When the boy he always wanted finally arrived, he wanted to name him Juan Chaun, which means ‘Powerful King’ in Cantonese. However, Peter wasn’t the boy or ‘king’ his father expected.
For Today I am a Boy brings to life the psychological turmoil of a young boy who feels dysphoria about his own body. The novel illustrates the struggles Peter goes through trying to live his life, while fighting his inner feelings about his body.
Kim Fu allows the reader into the mind of a young Peter who is uncomfortable with the idea of growing up and being a man. As a child in kindergarten Peter’s asked to draw a picture of himself of what he wants to be when he grows up. He draws himself as a mother.
From the first chapter you’re invested in the lives of the characters: Adele the eldest sister who is described as beautiful and accepting, Helen the second daughter, who is studious and stern, Bonnie the youngest sister, Peter feels is his twin. Even the lives of Peter’s strict father and quiet mother have an interesting storyline that compel the reader to read further.
For Today I am a Boy evokes emotions such as empathy and sympathy but also invokes a curiosity about Peter’s moves and thoughts.
At each stage of Peter’s life, we’re left wondering about his admiration for the people around him. It is hard to know if he’ll tell his family about his thoughts and feelings, or if he’ll ever accept himself.
The insight Fu provides the reader is so much more than just the story of Peter Huang. The novel allows the reader put themselves in the shoes of people such as Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono and Elliot Fletcher.
After reading the novel, there is a newfound sense of empathy towards people who feel as if they’ve been misgendered. For Today I am A Boy allows one to comprehend the inner turmoil that goes on in minds of those who feel trapped in their body and long to find a way out. It’s a heart-yanking tale that provokes thought and emotion. It draws the reader in and refuses to let go until the very last word… Audrey.