Readers Response Blog 7
Clark, K.E. (2013). Freakboy. Harrisonburg, VA: Square Fish.
Grade level 7th-9th
I honestly had a hard time reading this book. This book addresses a lot of different topics including gender identity, transgender, homophobia, transphobia, depression, suicide, and more and it was a heavy book to read, and at some points heartbreaking to see what the characters were going through. The poetic style writing was interesting and changed the way you would read the story, versus a more traditional chapter book style. There is hardly any dialogue, and the story is mostly told through the characters’ stream of consciousness. There are parts of the story that are positive, but most of the story follows Brendan questioning his gender identity, and the backlash and toxic masculinity he receives from almost all the males in his life. At the same time, it is important to talk about these heavier issues that some people face every day.
In the author’s note, Clark addresses that this story in no way is trying to tell “the” transgender story but is telling “a” transgender story. I think if you look at it from that perspective you can get more out of the story. This is one experience, that some might relate to, or some might not, but I think you can get something out of the story. I think like many of the stories we have read, a discussion is key. Sitting down and reading a story alone is completely different than reading a story and then discussing what you read. I think you could use this book to analyze the characters, and even the way the author wrote the story and then having a discussion with students. The style of the story itself is very interesting, with the different fonts, bold vs. italic text, even the way the story is written more like a diary, making it a very different read than a lot of novels.
I think I would use this story as a writing exercise, focusing on the ethical dilemma that Angel debates with Marcus in the story. Start with a discussion on what the dilemma Angel faces are and what the students think about the different sides to the dilemma. Should Angel tell Dr. M about her friendship with Brendan? Then students can break off and write about what they think Angel should do or should’ve done.
After reading Freakboy, Students will write a three-paragraph essay explaining what they think Angel should do regarding her ethical problem. Use references from the book to support your claim.
ELA Common Core Standards for 9th – 10th Students:
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences are drawn from the text.