Born That Way

Susan Ketchen - Bio and Media
pb / 2009-04 / Young Adult Fiction /
ISBN 978-088982-254-2 / 176pp / $12.95

Sylvia is fourteen and she wants a horse but a few things are getting in her way. For one, she seems to be stuck in the body of an eight-year-old. Sylvia has an undiagnosed medical condition which makes her very short, with funny ears and strange hands. The kids at school call her Pygmy Chimp.

Grandpa has secretly promised to buy her a horse as soon as she grows as tall as his shoulder. Sylvia does everything she can to increase her height, including adhering to an unconventional stretching regime. She also sets out to demonstrate her responsible pet-care abilities by bringing home several live barnacles in sea water. Anyone would think barnacles were a pretty safe choice—who would guess that they are hermaphrodites? Sylvia’s ensuing Google research on barnacle care leaves a damning trail in the family’s computer history file. Her mom decides Sylvia needs therapy to resolve her latency and gender-identity issues.

Sylvia does find support for her quest. In lucid dreams, a grumpy unicorn offers her advice. Sylvia meets others who are equally obsessed with horses and so discovers she is a member of the herd of horsewomen. However, her greatest challenge comes when, on the brink of having her wishes fulfilled, she must reconcile the attainment of her childhood dreams with the emerging powers and responsibilities of womanhood.

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Book reviews:
Born That Way by Susan Ketchen