By Annie Krabbenschmidt
Reviewed, 24 March 2022
Annie Krabbenschmidt writes, in their introduction, “This project started with a question: ‘Why is it so hard to come out of the closet?’… why is it that for some, we can more easily picture killing ourselves than living full and happy lives? ‘… What does it take to feel free?’” With these questions, they reach out to the reader they can’t believe is really there. From the first page, they address us directly. Midway through, they wonder if any of us have made it this far. At the end they thank us, their “dozens of readers,” for listening. Self-effacing to the last page, Annie knows they’re telling a story not everyone wants to hear. Their humble words belie how often people have turned away from them.
Annie is charming because they are trying not to be charming. No doubt, they hate charming people. But in their honesty, complete though never brutal, they draw readers into their story. Whether or not they want to, they charm us. That’s the tension in this narrative. Annie shows their flaws, but their messy, mixed-up coming of age is a shared story among humans. Though they have faced ugly criticism and emotional harm, they’ve emerged, not in self-satisfied triumph but in burgeoning self-knowledge that shines a light on our humanity.
Fred: An Unbecoming Woman is a book of hard-won insights and long-pondered problems. Through the lens of their LGBTQ+ experiences, friendships, and romances, Annie tackles the feelings of “otherness” that dog humans on their way to authenticity and fulfillment. Their sexuality magnifies the ostracism they face; they can’t ignore the tangled strands of their life. Their fight to be free will inspire many who do not share their specific challenges. Betrayed by labels like “privileged,” “introvert,” and “lesbian,” they attack stereotypes and share their journey, even though they’re pretty sure a lot of us will tune them out. In their unrelenting self-awareness, they dare us to keep going. The reward is a story of resilience, a life lived with intention, and a human being still on the road to their truest self.
Thanks to Reedsy Discovery for an Advance Reader’s Copy of this title. The book launches, 13 April 2022.
This review appeared first on Reedsy.com.