If you haven’t already, read my full review of the book, which I posted yesterday. A Possibility of Whales is a brand new middle grade book by Canadian author Karen Rivers featuring a supporting trans boy character. I was lucky enough to get to have a quick chat with the author, mostly about the representation of trans kids in middle grade books. Don’t miss the opportunity to win a free signed copy of the book at the bottom of this post!
- What made you decide to write sections from Harry’s perspective as well as Nat’s in the book, even though she’s the main character?
“I wanted to give Harry a little more space to talk about who he was, outside of Nat’s perspective. It felt appropriate to give him the space on the page to do that. My editor and I talked it over, and we both felt like it worked. It gave readers a chance to know Harry without relying on too many assumptions. In short, we both loved Harry and wanted to share his story in a bigger way than it could have been if we hadn’t given him voice.”
- What links or parallels do you see between Harry and Nat’s journeys in the book?
“At its heart, this book is about family. Families all show love and acceptance in different ways and to different degrees. Harry’s family and Nat’s family, at first glance, couldn’t be more different. But both kids are trying to figure out who they are within families who don’t necessarily make it easy for them to have a strong sense of self. In Nat’s case, her dad’s fame is constantly overriding her identity and her ability to establish who she is, as a person apart from him. In many ways, she’s first and foremost, XAN GALLAGHER’s daughter. In Harry’s case, his dad straight up doesn’t accept who he is. Both of them are looking for acknowledgement, acceptance, approval, and, of course, love. They are both seeking. And obviously, each of them have what the other one lacks: Nat has unconditional acceptance from her dad. Harry has a mother.”
- Did you read any books by transgender authors and/or do research on trans kids to prepare yourself to write from Harry’s perspective?
“I have people close to me in my life who have been on similar journeys. (I’m not willing to accidentally out anyone here for the sake of establishing credentials, however. The internet, after all, is a public space.) I didn’t take Harry’s identity lightly, and I wouldn’t have written him if I didn’t feel like I could fairly depict him. And I would not have included Harry’s perspective if I didn’t feel like I had a thorough understanding of him as a character, where he was coming from, what he wanted, and where he was going.”
- Which trans kid’s books you would recommend?
“I loved Alex Gino’s George. There are far too few middle grade books that are about being trans, or even that simply have trans kids in them. This is the latter. It is not a book about being trans. It is not actually Harry’s story. It’s Nat’s story, and Harry is someone who is important to her, both as her friend, and as her first crush. I wanted to give the readers a broad enough look at Harry and his life such that they could understand who he was, so that they would truly see him.”
- How different would the book have been if it had been told solely from Nat or Harry’s point of view?
“At no point did I consider this as a book that could be told from Harry’s point of view. I suppose it would be as different as any book would be, had it been told from the perspective of a secondary character! This book is about Nat. It is her story. From its conception, I wanted to write an “ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT’S ME MARGARET” that incorporated some of the many complexities of being a kid in 2018, things that were less common in the 1970s when MARGARET made her debut. I’m a single mother, and I know firsthand how challenging things can be when you’re a child of a single parent. I gave Nat a single dad — a kind of idealized dad, a fun dad, a larger-than-life dad — because I know also how hard it is to navigate puberty when you are missing the one parent who has been specifically, exactly where you are.
To me, this is a book about connections. This is a book about searching, about motherhood, about mothering strangers, about how mothers are everywhere — after all, Nat does find the “mothers” that she needs, when she needs them most. That’s what this story is about, at the end of the day: Family. Love. Acceptance. Self-discovery. Friendship.”
Least but not least: there’s a chance to win a free signed hardcover copy of A Possibility of Whales! Check out the details below:
– Canada Only (full rules found in the T&C on Rafflecopter)
– Giveaway ends Mon. Mar. 19th @ 12AM EST
– Winner will be drawn randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email and will have 24 hours to claim their prize
Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. Good luck!