Alex has always wanted to help people, so when he finds a scared, homeless child, he doesn’t hesitate to take ‘Socks’ to the shelter where he works, Trinity House.
Over the course of four years, a chance meeting turns into friendship. When Socks turns eighteen, they’re excited, because it means they can move in with Alex — until Alex rejects them, and Socks realizes an affection they thought mutual was only ever one-sided.
Years later, Socks has become Trin, a psychiatrist who specializes in helping children. And they still want desperately to know why Alex rejected them long ago…
When I read this blurb on Netgalley, I was instantly intrigued, because I had never read a book with a genderless or gender neutral character, and I thought it was about time to change that.
This isn’t really a full fledged book, and it reads like a novella more than anything, because it is super super short. I did like it a lot though, and I think I’ve learned a few things too, even if there were some aspects of the book that I had a few problems with.
The writing is great, and while I admit that I was a bit scared of being lost in the pronouns, because I find it slightly confusing to refer to a single individual by plural pronouns – sorry! – but it was easy to follow and I think it made me understand the use better now.
Just to clarify, I mean no disrespect about my pronoun comment above, I hear you, I respect you, but I personally never used it, so I find using they/them difficult when referring to a single person, my brain just doesn’t compute. But my brain learns, and I think that’s a great thing, to learn!
Both characters were great, I especially liked Trin, but I felt like they were both very underdeveloped. I do think the author fleshed out the essential on both of them, and brought to light their biggest fears, especially about each other.
I especially liked how Trin was comfortable in their own skin. I liked how they explained what being agender means and how they learned to accept it and don’t question it. I liked how the book talked about the difference of gender identity, biological sex and sexuality. And I liked that the book had a good representation of the spectrum, with Alex being a gay man, Trin being agender and bi, and Andy being trans and pan, and how it explained the fluidity of sexuality.
I also appreciated a lot Alex’s POV, from someone in love with a gender neutral person. I loved how supportive he was of them and never pushed for more than they were ready for. Also, he truly didn’t care what they were biologically, and the way he felt was heartwarming.
Like I said, I think this is a book that covers many important issues and I really liked the way it breached these subjects and how they were explained. This is ultimately a romance, and I thought it was sweet. However, I did have a few issues with this short book.
My first issue is that I think there was enough core story to build a full book around. The story felt rushed. I wish there had been more build up since the first meeting between Alex and Socks and when they meet again 9 years later. We are told that they were super close, enough that they loved each other, but that unfortunately is never seen. Another thing that felt rushed was the romance… slight spoiler here, but at the end of their second date, and the first time they were intimate, Alex was asking Trin to move in with him in the future… and not just that, but the plan included Trin’s roommate Andy and one of her patients. I thought that was too fast, even though it wouldn’t happen for several months after, it still felt like too much… they had just reconnected.
Another issue that I had was with Trin’s studies… I didn’t exactly buy that they had accomplished so much of the studies required to be a psychiatrist in just 6 years…
There was one thing that bothered me, and this might be a non-issue… Trin’s biological sex is never mentioned, and it really shouldn’t matter. But several tiny things in the book lead me to believe that their biological sex was female, and I wish that the matter of protection would have been referred to when they finally had sex. Not that they shouldn’t use protection no matter what, but the possibility that there was an added risk of pregnancy and my brain just wouldn’t shut up about it.
Overall, I think this was an important book and a great read. I just wish the author would get this short story and expand on it, make it a full-300-pages book, full of character development and more details about Trin and Alex’s lives.
8 thoughts on “Outside the Lines (Caitlin Ricci)”
While I am generally intrigued about the book and think that a story that goes into the fluidity of sexuality is something I would like to read about, I am not sure I would appreciate the short format. You know I am not for novellas, I just can’t deal with them somehow. Great review!
the size was a major issue for me. I felt like the story had so much room to grow, you know?
Absolutely understand! I had issues with shorter books, especially ones that had potential, before as well.