Book Review: Call Me Nathan by Catherine Castro; Illustrated by Quentin Zuttion

Title: Call Me Nathan

Author: Catherine Castro

Illustrator: Quentin Zuttion

Genre: Realistic Graphic Novels

Number of Pages: 144

Rating: C+

Recommended?: No

I read this one morning before I went to work, and I knew almost immediately it wasn’t something that would stick with me. It might be a good pick for somebody who hasn’t read books about transgender people before, since some of it is fairly educational. However, the illustrations are underwhelming and the story itself is bland. It’s a story of a trans guy transitioning, nothing more.

Nathan is a French teenager struggling with gender dysphoria. Assigned female at birth, he gets withdrawn and depressed and engages in self-harm, but things gradually get better after he comes out to his family, and they start to accept him for who he is. The scenes where we get other character’s inner dialogues (i.e. Nathan’s parents) were confusing because there was no indicator given when the perspective changed.

I didn’t like Nathan’s character at all, he seemed like kind of a jerk. I get that not all characters have to be likable (and not all queer people are likable, for that matter) but I didn’t feel invested in anyone in the story. I didn’t find him or his character arc particularly interesting, either. It was a basic ‘person struggles with their gender identity, person faces adversity, person transitions, person feels better’ narrative and he came off as an obnoxious brat.

He’s extremely rude and disrespectful to his parents and at one point when he shares a room with a girl and she’s being a pill about it he quips ‘don’t worry, I won’t rape you.’ WTF? The book is so focused on Nathan’s dysphoria and subsequent transition that it fails to be about anything else. Again, this will probably be a better read for people who haven’t already read a bunch of different narratives about gender identity. For me there were so many better stories out there (about both trans men/boys, trans women/girls, and non-binary folks) that this was utterly forgettable.

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