Read Adam by Ariel Schrag Online

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When Adam Freedman -- a skinny, awkward, inexperienced teenager from Piedmont, California -- goes to stay with his older sister Casey in New York City, he is hopeful that his life is about to change. And it sure does. It is the Summer of 2006. Gay marriage and transgender rightsare in the air, and Casey has thrust herself into a wild lesbiansubculture. Soon Adam is taggingWhen Adam Freedman -- a skinny, awkward, inexperienced teenager from Piedmont, California -- goes to stay with his older sister Casey in New York City, he is hopeful that his life is about to change. And it sure does. It is the Summer of 2006. Gay marriage and transgender rightsare in the air, and Casey has thrust herself into a wild lesbiansubculture. Soon Adam is tagging along to underground clubs, where there are hot older women everywhere he turns. It takes some time for him to realize that many in this new crowd assume he is trans -- a boy who was born a girl. Why else would this baby-faced guy always be around? Then Adam meets Gillian, the girl of his dreams -- but she couldn't possibly be interested in him. Unless passing as a trans guy might actually work in his favor...Ariel Schrag's scathingly funny and poignant debut novel puts a fresh spin on questions of love, attraction, self-definition, and what it takes to be at home in your own skin....

Title : Adam
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780544142930
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 302 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Adam Reviews

  • Oriana
    2019-06-22 13:43

    The cover of this book includes the following endorsement by Alison Bechdel: "The sexual revolution is finally over, and Ariel Schrag has won." Flavorpill loved this too. Two brilliant GR-ers whose taste I totally trust both 5-starred it, one even saying that she's "obsessed" with it. So this was a slam-dunk in my head before it even arrived in the mail. But you guys? I kind of hated it.Let me start by saying this: I think this book is important. It's groundbreaking and transgressive and very, very necessary right now, seeing as how trans-rights are the next frontier of the culture wars or whatever. And I am completely, obviously, 100% pro trans rights. As a cis & hetero lady, I do my best to be an ally, and to check my privilege, and to educate myself at every opportunity on gender and sexuality and all the other proper theories. So please do not for one second think I am reacting negatively because this is a mainstream, basically YA novel that is filled with queer and trans characters, that portrays them as real people, that gives voice to their struggles and their thoughts and their reality. That is all fucking fantastic. So what's my problem? Well, two things. First, I am not the audience for this book. The very reason this is so necessary is because the majority of the people in this backward-ass country do not educate themselves on gender theory and do not check their cis and hetero privilege, and so for the same reasons that we need racial diversity in movies, we need sexual diversity in literature. Duh, right? But I am neither a person being exposed to all this for the first time who needs to be educated about others' reality, nor a person who knows all of this inherently because it is their struggle but still really needs to see it all normalized in popular culture. So the fact that this book is essentially Queer/Trans Theory 101 disguised as a novel just made me bored. Watching through the eyes of a seventeen-year-old as the gender continuum is explained made me bored. Being taught about the need for different gender pronouns made me bored. Being walked slowly through the difference between gender identity and sexual preference made me so. fucking. bored. That part is my fault. The other part, though, is Ariel's fault.Here's that: This is a book about a fundamental, massive, borderline horrifying deception. I'm gong to spoiler a little bit, but you already know this if you read the Goodreads book description, so here's what happens: (view spoiler)[our titular Adam accidentally convinces a lesbian that he's a trans guy, and he proceeds to have a very emotionally and sexually intimate relationship with her for many months before he finally FINALLY reveals the truth (hide spoiler)]. This is SO FUCKED UP. It's fucked up on a level worthy of a person who has NO comprehension of gender theory, NO sympathy for the plight of a trans or even queer person. The only way, you assume, that an author who clearly DOES have the right comprehensions and sympathies can let her main character do this is if he is roundly and completely punished in the end, made to understand just how horrible of a thing that was to do. But does this happen? Uh, spoiler: nope.Oh it's true that Adam kind of learns his lesson, but not really, and he just gets off the hook like goddamn nothing. And! What happens to his love interest in the sort of rushed last epiloguey chapter after their affair is over is just incomprehensible. Weirdly, as the book went on the writing got stronger and tighter and better -- directly inversely proportional to the plot getting more and more and more appalling and problematic. I don't get it, Ariel. What happened?

  • June Junebug
    2019-07-13 08:22

    TRIGGER WARNINGS: homophobia, transphobia, incestuous voyeurism, voyeurPerpetuates every wrong thing that society does to oppress minorities. And don't say "oh but they meant to do that to show just how bad it is"—NO. If you wanted to show how bad it is, you don't do it like this. You lay down the problem, you confront the problem, you fix the problem with yourself. Not help your buddy watch your lesbian sister have sex with another woman and then watch with your friend. NO. That's deplorable and absolutely disrespectful. And then pretending to be trans to get into a girl's pants?JustHe gets the girl in the end despite her specifically saying she's a lesbian and doesn't like penises. This just reinforces the idea that the cis white guy gets the girl and can change a lesbian's mind. That doesn't happen in real life and it's really disrespectful towards lesbians. Now guys are gonna read this or hear about it and think "dude, I'm gonna just go for it and keep sexually harassing this girl because my dick will change her mind."Bottom line: if you don't know how to write about being part of the LGBTQQIAP community in a respectable way, then you can fuck the fuck off.

  • Jessica
    2019-07-07 07:39

    In a more normal world, I'd agree that a book where characters can't express the simplest thought without dropping six "f-bombs" and which includes a graphic (and hilarious) jaunt through a sex club is maybe a bit racy for the tykes. However, I'm not sure why, in this troubled world of ours where seven-year-olds are regularly exposed to Miley Cyrus, a book like this can't be marketed as YA.Fortunately, despite meeting the criteria (except the PG test) for classic YA, Adam is sophisticated, funny, and fascinating enough for all but the crustiest adult readers. Novels should be novel, and as such they fail if their readers sense they've been written before.This book definitely hasn't been written before. It's totally novel and exciting and so much of its (our!) time, while maintaining the timeless elements of a classic coming-of-age story. Adam is hilarious and brave, with its pitch-perfect fun-poking at a group of people who are often ignored, exoticized, derided, or treated with carefully policed phrasing and a stifling sensitivity. Schrag portrays her trans characters, young lesbians, hapless straight-boy hero, and other players as largely driven by their own insecurities and anxiety and desire to be accepted -- in other words, as human beings. Somehow Adam pulls off a balancing of honest but not mean, comic while insightful, transgressive and fun while ultimately pretty darn sweet. The plot was engaging and I read the whole thing in basically one sitting because I felt pulled along and simply wanted to know what would happen -- would Adam get the girl? Where was this going? Could Schrag pull it off? How could this possibly end??One thing I thought was cool was that I imagined this book would make sense to a young heterosexual man who hasn't really been exposed to queer culture or thinking about gender or LGBTWHATEVERGATRILLIONLETTERSAREBEINGPROMOTEDNOW issues, and I'm really curious if that's true. From what I understand Ariel Schrag must resemble a horny teenage boy herself, and I think Adam successfully uses the currency of adolescent hormones and insecurity to explain important things that otherwise might elude that demographic, helping to elevate the wider population's grasp of sexuality and gender past the "How do lesbians have sex?" and "Dude look like a lady" stage.In the end, I felt I'd seen a fascinating and astute snapshot of a certain time and place, and seen human beings caught, on the one hand, in the specifics of their situation, while behaving pretty much the way that we always do. That is, the characters seemed real to me, both in terms of the history and sociology being represented, and as acting like real-life young people. Finally, Adam delivered a satisfying, complete story and a commentary on the complexity and fluidity of gender, sexuality, and growing up. Highly recommended!

  • Thomas
    2019-06-21 12:27

    Warning: this review will contain an inappropriate quote. Because Adam has a lot of inappropriate things. Like recreational drug use and explicit sexual detail involving pornography. All within the first 20 pages. You have been cautioned.Seventeen-year-old Adam Freedman has nothing to do over the summer. He decides to stay with his older sister Casey in her apartment in New York City, and right away he finds himself thrust into the lesbian subculture of 2006 - night clubs, trans people, and attractive women abound. Soon he meets Gillian, the redheaded girl of his dreams, and they fall in love - only after Adam pretends to be a trans guy. Adam would rather die than lose his new love interest, so he maintains the facade, but as his relationship with Gillian gets more and more intense, so does the deceit that drains him of his freedom.Adam delves into the queer community and touches on often overlooked topics, especially trans culture. As a gay guy I like to think that I know a decent amount about lgbtq rights, but Adam still taught me a thing or two. Most importantly, Ariel Schrag creates honest characters - lesbians, straight men, transgender folk - all with real faults and strengths, all with the real, human desire to be loved. Some of Schrag's scenes turned into educational lessons and lost their authenticity as a result, but those moments were minor blips in the grand scheme of the novel.Adam grew on me as a narrator. His cynical and disenchanted view of the world captured me, and he progressed from a whiny, privileged brat to a sympathetic, likeable young man. At the beginning of the book he had no direction, but that changed the moment he met Gillian, and Schrag pulled off his development well. Here's one of Adam's many interesting thoughts that exemplify how Schrag uses Adam's narrative to reflect on subversive topics in the lgbtq community:Adam had always wondered about the whole gay masturbation thing. If you have the body parts you're fantasizing about, couldn't you just touch your own and pretend they were someone else's? Like when he sat on his hand to make it numb before jerking off. being attracted to vaginas and having the option to touch one whenever you wanted. He felt wildly jealous. Something about it just much not work.However, I had two major issues with this book. First, Schrag did not conclude Adam's "pretending to be a trans guy" story arc well. By the end of the book I almost forgave him because he gained empathy through his facade, but he still never faced the consequences of his transgression. (view spoiler)[The fact that Gillian just started to like bio guys and morph her sexuality toward Adam's true gender (hide spoiler)] felt too convenient. On a more minor note, I did not appreciate (view spoiler)[Gillian's reveal about depression. I felt like Schrag used it as a plot device - why is Gillian ignoring Adam? Did she figure out his secret? - instead of grasping its significance or mentioning it in a meaningful way (hide spoiler)].Overall, a good book, and I would recommend it to those interested in the plot synopsis. Some will love it, some will hate it, and I can see the reasoning behind both ends.

  • Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
    2019-07-18 08:52

    Pages Read: 43This book is making me really uncomfortable. I wanted to read this because of the LGBTQ+ stuff, but I've not even gotten to that aspect. Basically, I hate the MC. He's a horrible person and I don't want to spend any more time in his head. The only LGBT stuff that's happened is his lesbian sister telling him that a summer in NYC will make everyone at his school want to suck his dick. Oh yeah, and Adam and his friend watching his sister and her girlfriend have sex. The swearing and stuff in this book even makes ME uncomfortable and I'm a big fan of swearing. I feel like it's being intentionally crude just to shock, rather than being real.I really wanted to love this, but it's so obviously not for me.

  • Emily
    2019-07-01 08:22

    I am obsessed with this book. My friend Bennett describes it as "the most LOL book" he's ever read, and I concur. Its funniness comes from a profound and compassionate understanding of what it's like to be young and dealing with complex issues of identity -- sexual and gender identity and just becoming a person in general. I recommend it to anyone who's ever been been young and confused about who they had to be and how they had to act in order to be attractive, cool, and loved.

  • Jessica
    2019-07-20 11:44

    um what. ok so in a nutshell, the book is about a straight white boy's struggles to understand trans people, in the skeeviest way possiblei knew that was what the book was about, but i thought -- this is up for awards, it's recced by blogs and authors i trust, etc etc so i read it anyway, thinking there must be some sort of subversion, plot twist SOMETHING but ehh not really... even though this was supposed to be some groundbreaking book, it still followed in the fine tradition of Middle Class Straight White Boy Wants To Get Laid and yeah, not feeling thatso i googled the book and read interviews bc i felt like i was missing something... like maybe there was some secret hidden thing that excused how questionable the book is annnd quotes from the interview:"I was intrigued by the idea of taking a standard YA formula—awkward teen boy finds love for the first time—and subverting it with unexpected explicit and hopefully thought-provoking content about gender and sexuality."um ok i'll buy that (but i don't like it), though i wonder if anything was actually subverted since (view spoiler)[adam's gf ends up being straight (or at least ok with cis guys) and fine with the deception which WTF (hide spoiler)]"The sex in ADAM may be shocking to some people (because it mentions body parts rather than euphemisms or because it’s queer), but it’s also all consensual—which is not the case for much of the sex teenagers watch regularly on TV."NO IT'S NOT ALL CONSENSUAL BC ADAM LIES ABOUT WHO HE ISinterview:http://www.bkmag.com/2014/06/09/on-ad...

  • Terry
    2019-06-21 11:23

    if you heard that the writing was deplorable, insulting to your mom, lesbians, and trans folks to boot, you might want to know that it's also racist af. i picked this up out of curiosity for what the buzz was all about but eventually lost a bunch of respect for myself for doing so, as more and more racist comments unfolded throughout the story. it's kind of terrifying that it seems like i'm the first reviewer to point them out on here.from pretty much featuring all white characters (in new york of all places) to comments about "weird asian pussies," the cracker lez who wrote this book has got her racism on lock. from the get go, adam pictures a "hot redhead" as the (white) girl he'll fall in love with in (the white version of) new york. there's one chapter that opens up by describing what adam sees in queens as he first arrives in new york and it's literally full of racist shit about black people ("it was weird to adam that the whole civil rights movement had pretty much started over a fight to not have to sit in the back, and now the back was the only cool place to sit. especially for black kids." p. 39). later on, he meets a black lesbian and the white author makes sure that a racist gesture is thrown in there ("'what do you, adam?' asked jackie. jackie was butch, too, and black. you're black, thought adam." p. 187). we also even see the n word at one point. i'm sure our beloved author would just explain the advice imparted to her in her creative writing classes at columbia about "just getting into her characters." the thing with writing racist shit, bad white young adult fiction writers in denial, is that it's a bad move in every aspect and if at all attempted, should at least be in first person, rather than third, since that pretty much seals your place as our Racist Ass Narrator.as a queer person who is kind of really interested in reading things that don't just feel like white people happily distributing white hegemony and flat out racism to my communities, i'd avoid this book at all costs. it's not worth the time you could have spent on another more unabashedly young adult fiction novel, trust me.

  • Shelley
    2019-06-29 15:26

    I'm not sure why I thought this book would NOT be totally effed up. The premise is creepy, a cisgendered straight boy pretending to be trans to get with a queer woman who isn't interested in dating cis guys. But I knew that Ariel Schrag is queer, and she's mentioned in "Hot Topic" by Le Tigre, so I was hopeful. I imagined sort of a Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger vibe, but this book just drips with unchecked cis/straight/male privilege. I know, it's written by a queer woman, and it got a positive review by Alison Bechdel, but I did not like it. If I were to review this book with a t-shirt, it would be this one: I'm going to call the whole rest of the review a spoiler. (view spoiler)[I'm not sure who the intended audience of this book is. There were a lot of references that I thought were sort of "in" references, like that would be funny or cool if you were queer, but that straight people might not necessarily get (watching But I'm a Cheerleader over and over, queer girls going nuts for trans guys, the L-Word party). But we're seeing the world through Adam's eyes, as he learns about trans stuff, and I guess we're supposed to empathize with him? So is it straight teenage boys? I really can't imagine a lot of teenage boys being like "yeah, I'd like to read this book about queer culture!" The opening of the book was awful. It set Adam up right away as a sex-crazed asshole. As I often say in reviews of books about teenage boys, I don't spend a lot of time around them, but do they really just think about their boners all the time? Oh my god. And I agree with the other reviewers who said that there was too much swearing (despite feeling like seriously, I'm no prude, it was just a LOT all at once, before we'd gotten to know anyone), but that really calmed down as the book went on. I also think that Adam didn't get any emotional life until mid-book. The first chapter or two were probably the worst part of the book for me -- Adam was basically set up as a quiet guy with bad skin who thinks with his dick. His attraction to Kelsey in the opening scene was never explained beyond something physical, and there was a lot of discussion of things/people being cool or not cool, but no real personality for anyone. A few other early turn-offs for me were: 1. Adam watching his sister have sex. Gross. 2. Repeated use of the R-word. Adam's sister Casey eventually realizes that it's not cool to use it (and I don't think she recognizes why it's offensive, just that it's not "cool"), but then one thing that Adam likes about Gillian is that she doesn't mind when he uses it. Not okay. 3. This is petty, but seriously, they moved all their shit (including a 5-foot-tall lamp) from a dorm room to the apartment in the trunk of a cab? Plus Adam's suitcase(s) that he brought for the summer?4. I also thought June was a stupid man-hating lesbian stereotype in the beginning. Like after Adam helps move everything and then says that he's hungry and June's response is "Typical!" Give me a break. Is this part of us seeing through Adam's eyes? It's written in third person, so it sort of seemed like an objective description. I eventually, like Adam, warmed up to June a little, but her Jewish fixation made me uncomfortable. Is the point of this book to make people uncomfortable and "push boundaries?" And I haven't even got to the main premise of the book yet. Adam is a douchebag. He lies to Gillian and she's just okay with it in the end. This did make me question why I'm okay with trans people passing as cis--like scenes in Stone Butch Blues and Boys Don't Cry where straight women think they're sleeping with a cis guy, but he's really trans, or Ethan admitting that he'd passed as cis with women--but not vice versa. I think that's when it comes back to Adam's privilege, and my belief that the trans guys would like to be cis, and don't want to have that qualifier of "trans" in front of the word "guy." But Adam doesn't want to be trans, he just wants Gillian. And he doesn't recognize how much he's lying to her. Here's a quote from chapter 10: "The most wonderful thing that had happened in his life, and probably ever would, had revealed itself to be a sick, convoluted prank that he had masochistically constructed to humiliate himself." It's still all about him, nothing about the huge deception that he's pulling over on Gillian. When he learned that Ethan was trans, that would have been an excellent opportunity for Adam to recognize his own feelings of betrayal and how Gillian might feel the same way, but he never seemed to "get it." He's afraid that she'll dump him, but isn't concerned about how she might feel about all of this. My favorite part of Hard Love was how Marisol was there to call John out on all his bullshit. Adam really needed a Marisol. His sister played that role a little, but she was involved in too much of her own crap. One more quote that I wrote down because I thought it was BS, (and I think it requires a trigger warning for rape) -- when Adam is with Gillian at Camp Trans, a woman comes up and starts hitting on Gillian, then strips naked to go swimming. Adam's response is basically to imagine raping her -- "And as Adam stared at her with seething hatred, he simultaneously imagined his penis inside of her and the unconditional exquisite pleasure he would feel." Gross. I think this book could have gone into some interesting discussion places, like why is it that a woman would be interested in trans guys but not cis guys? What really is the difference, if there is one? And it could have been more about Adam's journey from being an asshole to being a true ally. I do think he becomes an ally somewhat, but mostly through his relationship with Ethan. He starts to get a tiny clue at Camp Trans -- "for the first time, it occurred to Adam how alienating it must be to grow up in a body you didn't recognize as your own." For the FIRST TIME? Like 20 pages from the end of the book, after a whole summer of pretending to be a trans guy? Basically, I thought this book was about a straight guy getting rewarded for being an ass.(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Emma
    2019-06-25 11:47

    An awful, repulsive, transphobic, mess.I didn't have high expectations going into this, I've had about enough of well-intentioned cis opinions on trans people, but I was willing to give Schrag the benefit of the doubt. And at first it seemed like it might actually not be that bad. Yes, the protagonist is a terrible person, but the implication was that he would grow. Yes, the trans people we see at the beginning of the novel were all one-dimensional, self-centered skater bros, but EVERY character was pretty terrible so it was just a minor annoyance.But Adam does not grow. He is just as much of a transphobe at the end of the book as at the beginning, viewing the trans bodies at Camp Trans as disgusting, and thinking of cis people as inherently "biological". And the reader is stuck in his head for the ENTIRE BOOK. The use of Adam as an 'everyman' protagonist implies that Schrag believes that the natural thought process of the reader is that trans people are illegitimate and gross. While every character is awful, the trans people are awful in stereotypically transphobic ways. The ONLY real trans woman character is an aggressive, domineering cheater. The trans men are depicted as being perpetually adolescent and self-obsessed.Moving away from the trans milieu is seen as an act of maturity, for example Adam's sister's reaffirmation of herself as "gay" rather than "queer" at the end.I am appalled that this book has been promoted as some great breakthrough in LGBT fiction, or YA fiction. Schrag is clearly writing from intimate personal experience of the queer community she depicts, yes, and there are moments of uncomfortable (and comic) recognition in the first half of the book. But ultimately it is not her identity that is at stake here, and not she that stands to lose from the, I would argue inevitable, misconceptions about trans lives that will follow from Adam's new exemplary status. A "warts-and-all" portrayal of any in-group is only courageous if the dominant portrayal of said group is improbably clear-skinned. For trans people, no such corpus of positive images exists--women tend to exist as walk-on punchlines, murder victims, predators, or at best vacuous agents of cis people's personal growth, while men don't exist at all. For a cis author to shrug and claim, as Schrag has in interviews, that she is simply telling an honest story is to ignore the profound political and cultural implications involved in producing a heavily-publicized "authoritative" portrayal of a vulnerable group to which one does not personally belong.In other words, it's possible to debate how "honest" the depiction of the queer scene in Adam is. But this is not the moment--as transgender people are just beginning to crest the cultural horizon as actual people, not case studies or symbols--for such a disingenuous defense of (cis) artistic license. Should anyone doubt that misconceptions about trans people are being left entirely intact by this book, incidentally, I would point them to the headlines of many of the reviews--"Boys Will Be Boys (And Sometimes Girls)" in the Miami Herald, for example.

  • Edan
    2019-06-20 12:28

    This book was funny and its narrator, Adam, was really endearing despite, or maybe because of, his crazy trans lie. I loved that this book got deeply into a small community and made fun of it while still treating its members with compassion and honesty. The book mocks sanctimony in all its forms, and it also allows its outsider-narrator to have a couple of true and moving revelations regarding identity, gender, and tolerance. That's not easy. The middle sagged a little for me, story- and pacing-wise, and I felt Adam could have had a bigger comeuppance at the end. But overall, this was a terrific read.Also, interesting: I spent so much time with Adam and his horniness, his big purple throbbing cock that I felt like I, too, had this cock and god damn I wanted him to solve his--our--problem by thrusting it into a woman. I love that this book turned me into a hetero teenage boy.

  • Gregory Baird
    2019-07-19 15:38

    When I first picked up Adam, I confess I was simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by its premise. You see, Adam has the audacious idea to take the standard rom-com premise where someone pretends to be someone/something they're not, and throw in gender norms and sexuality as a twist. It all starts when 17 year-old Adam goes to visit his lesbian sister in New York City for the summer. He's determined to lose his virginity and make all his friends back home jealous, but finds himself surrounded by his sister's lesbian and trans friends. When he falls for a lesbian at a party, Adam pretends to be trans in order to date her. Done right, it has the potential to be a scurrilous take-down of society and what is considered normal. Done wrong, it's just plain offensive.Well, Ariel Schrag has a lot to answer for. Because she did it wrong. Big time.To start with, Adam has some hideously unlikable characters. You don't need likable characters to make a book succeed (just look at Lolita--a book that made its controversial premise pay off, I might add), but I feel like in order for this book to work you need to be on Adam's side. And you're not. He's a selfish, spoiled, self-involved brat. We're supposed to think that Adam grows up as the story progresses because he eschews his prior desperation for popularity, but that doesn't make what he does any less reprehensible. I think Schrag was trying to make some astute points about how hard it is to figure out who you are in a world so caught up with labels, bless her heart, but the message got seriously diluted. Oh, and the story is set in 2006, but it doesn't seem that there's a reason for this beyond allowing characters to make constant (constant) references to the TV show The L Word, which--wouldn't you know?--Ariel Schrag wrote for.I don't usually like to get into spoiler territory, but there's no way to discuss what's so awful about this book without going there. So if you don't want to know, turn away now.(view spoiler)[The real problem here is that there are utterly zero consequences for what Adam does. The truth finally comes out, and nobody thinks it was awful. He gets away with it and gets the girl in the end.I cannot even begin to tell you how ridiculously naive that is. Not to mention irresponsible.After finishing the book, I found an interview with Ariel Schrag where she compounds the problem by arrogantly trying to say she doesn't understand how people could be upset about the lack of consequences. She makes it sound like Gillian, the lesbian Adam falls for, had a label thrust upon her and had always felt pressured to live up to it. But there's precious little evidence to support that in the book.Ms. Schrag, I admire the point you were trying to make about fluidity when it comes to gender and sexuality, but let's be real for a second: there would be consequences for a deception of such magnitude. Even in the standard, cliche-ridden rom-coms that use this same basic premise, couples at least temporarily break up over the lie. They don't just say "oh, you lied to me, deceived me, made me believe in something that was totally untrue, but gosh darn it now that I know you* I just love you so much." They struggle to reconcile things. (hide spoiler)]Prior to this book, there was only one novel I ever threw across the room in frustration and anger: Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown. Now there are two.Grade: F

  • Ocean
    2019-07-17 08:40

    Seriously, why is this woman considered to be a queer icon? That’s not a rhetorical question. Has anyone actually read any of her books? They’re full of hatred towards queer people, especially gender-non-conforming queer women. Like, if a straight person said the things that she says, their books would be protested, but she’s queer and she wrote some cute and insightful comic books when she was in high school nearly two decades ago, so we should just let her say this shit unchecked? No. In this book: butch queer women are repeatedly called ugly. Trans people are called ugly and freaky. A straight boy pretends to be trans because trans people are oh so much more privileged than cis people! There’s some racist shit thrown in there for good measure. And some sexual coercion, why the fuck not? Why not go all out?I’m sure this book’s fans will be all, “OMG this is how people really talk, get over it.” But you know what? I’m not interested in that. Queer literature shouldn’t be a jagged mirror of straight society, reflecting back the hateful and frankly boring rhetoric that people spew at us. It should be a space that’s about our resilience, our strength, our beauty, our brilliantly unsafe lives. Of course, not all queer life is perfect. Queer people do shitty things and can be just as horrible as anyone else. But this just feels…mean-spirited? Unnecessary? Like it’s really not good writing? This book doesn’t deserve to be labeled as queer literature. Ariel Schrag seems to be, for all intents and purposes, someone who wishes they were a completely obnoxious straight dude and is angry that they aren’t and is letting the entire world know it throughout their completely mediocre writing. That’s fine, but why’s it gotta be aimed at queer people? Why are you telling all the baby butches and tiny trans tots that they’re ugly when they’re just trying to find themselves reflected in a book? They’re not showing up in books as often as they’re showing up in real life. They need this space. In “Adam,” the space is essentially being desecrated. The BEST part is that the characters all go to a L word viewing party…for a season where Schrag was a staff writer! JUST IN CASE it wasn’t obnoxious and self-referential enough. I’m surprised one of the (one-dimensional and unlikeable) lesbian characters doesn’t whip out her copy of “Definition” while we’re at it.Librarians, booksellers—do the world a favor and take this book out of the queer section. Put it in general fiction, where it belongs. (In case you’re wondering why I’m ranting about this book that everyone else forgot about 2 years ago, it’s because it appeared on a list of Recommended Queer Reads at the San Francisco Public Library of all places. I thought, “aah, what the hell.” As my partner said recently, hate-reading is my second-favorite activity (right after snuggling).) Stop uncritically lauding queer authors just because they’re queer and pay attention to the bullshit they’re spewing. Question why there are brilliant authors (I’m thinking Gabby Rivera of “Juliet Takes A Breath” fame for starters) whose books don’t have half the distribution that this book does. I guess homophobia, transphobia and racism are just more marketable. More palatable. And that...leaves me feeling very hopeless.

  • M.
    2019-07-14 12:42

    I finished this book a bit ago and am still kind of reeling from it. There were moments I really enjoyed, when I felt like the jokes were not *on* me but *for* me, but mostly I felt like there was not enough critical distance between Adam's pov and the worldview of the novel and as such the novel is just kinda stuck in my throat. I like the idea of this project as one of empathy for an alienated straight cis white dude wading through this new queer/trans world. but ultimately felt alienated myself reading it, and upset and defensive, wanting to protect the secondary characters (and myself and loved ones) from this worldview, particularly its transphobic and body-shaming content. The worldview changes as Adam changes and evolves, and that's cool to watch, I guess, but ultimately I wanted to see this character be humiliated and shat upon as a key part of that transformation. If anyone would like to collaborate on an alternate ending to this novel - let's talk!//Upon rereading and discussing with Liza in unofficial book club: Thinking of this now as a historical artifact of lesbian/trans tensions of a decade ago -- it does capture queer dyke culture in NYC a certain way; I'm still annoyed that the only positive rep of transmasculinity is the stealth trans guy who the cis guy most bonds with--and doesn't know is trans. All the other trans guys are misogynist bros or 'obvious girls' who aren't fooling anyone. Interestingly, the trans dyke character gets a lot of dignity that trans guys on the whole do not. For a book about cis appropriation of trans/queer identity, cis dude does not get punished--or even learn--enough in my view. In a way, he does transmasculinity better than the trans guys do (what! except for Ethan). But though the trans stuff is very on a level with Max's storyline in The L Word, there's a lot here to think about, and much to enjoy (great play party scene, for example; and Adam's sister Casey is one of my favorite queer characters ever). Interesting to think about this as toying with Shakespearean transition of gender deceit and the foibles that ensue, but definitely in this case, feels like exploitation of an ingroup to an outgroup and it's often uncertain who is the butt of the joke.

  • Missy
    2019-07-01 11:39

    I don't know why Ariel Schrag wrote this book. While reading it, I was wondering if it was to make our queer community look itself in the face for it's more-inclusive-than-thou tendencies and secret joy of labeling and discarding things as "problematic", or just to portray how horrible it is to be in your early 20s. The premise is ridiculous and feels as if it was born from that eternal problem of (squinting eyes) "trans guy? or teenage boy..." that folks who date trans guys always have. It is obvious that Schrag is not writing this book to make friends. I just wish there were more books with trans lead characters that would have come out first before this book was written. It is nice to have some trans representation that shows some complexity, but I would love to hear it from a trans POV instead of a POV of someone pretending to be trans (which is not really a thing.) There were times of really disgusting misogyny that was a little jarring, since I've built myself a nice bubble home without it.I don't really know. I'm not saying don't read it, but just... why was this written?

  • Meghan
    2019-07-17 10:47

    I don't know if I can get through this without just hate reading, since there are some issues of consent (view spoiler)[and tricking a girl into having sex or a relationship with you is a dick move that apparently just happens in the story without much reprisal or reflection? (hide spoiler)] and I've read two chapters and I hate being in this guy Adam's head so much, he's such a ... this is one of his thoughts:"What the fuck was that retard bitch talking about?"Adam, I don't like you.

  • Bennett
    2019-07-17 15:42

    The funniest book I've read in a long time and also an almost-perfect YA even though I'm pretty sure it's being published as adult fiction. Very curious to see if it pisses people off.

  • christa
    2019-07-12 10:39

    When Ariel Schrag’s debut novel opens, the titular character is about to climb a tree into the bedroom of a girl he’s heard kind of likes him. Unfortunately, something has changed between her admission and the instance of smoking weed together and homeboy is denied what he had been led to believe would be easy access. Yowch. This sets the tone for a shitty vacation for Adam, who is uncoupled and must hang with a mess of obnoxious twosomes for the summer. His mom suggests that he travel across the country and spend some time with his sister, a Columbia student who is summering in Brooklyn. He considers the alternative, the throb of being a randy teenaged boy without a partner, and bites. This move, a real game-changer, is at the center of the Schrag’s novel “Adam.” It’s the first word book for the cartoonist who gained a following when she took a DIY approach to chronicle her high school years in Berkeley, Calif. I only read the first book, which covered grades 9-10, but it was a really, really cool collection full of pop culture, honesty, bravery. This novel, though, woof. Brutal. Things aren’t as mom believes in NYC. Casey, a few years older than Adam, is running with the GLBTQ crowd, which includes “The L-Word” parties, marriage equality marches and hanging at places with names like The Hole. Casey is fresh from a breakup, a longtime relationship with a woman, and is now hot for Boy Casey, who is in the midst of a female-to-male transition. The Freedman siblings end up living with Casey’s friend June, who is desperately in love with her, and pretty boy Ethan, who spends so much time in his bedroom reworking a video he has made starring his ex-girlfriend. Adam moves into a small closet, which seems like it should be a punchline to the novel at some point -- but it’s really the only easy plot move Schrag doesn’t employ. It doesn’t take Adam long to realize he’s not going to have much luck in love hanging with his sister’s crowd -- until he realizes that his youth gives him a sort of transgender aesthetic. This leads to a hot-n-heavy hookup at a bar with a stranger, but it leads to something much bigger and more meaningful with Gillian, who becomes his lesbian girlfriend. Cue the hijinks as Adam puts in 110 percent to make sure that Gillian never finds out he’s a bio boy. Along the way he learns a whole heckuva lot about the transgender community -- and seriously considers attempting a tuck. Adam is a completely unlikable character -- not the way his brutish friends are unlikable -- but unlikable nontheless. It is painful to ride around in his head. He’s written in a stilted way and seems mal formed. In an early scene, he creeps around with a friend outside of his sister’s window so they can see what lesbian sex is all about. This is super skeevy and I’m not buying that even a young teen would be more curious about girl-on-girl than grossed out by seeing his sister in action. This isn’t the only time he puts himself in this sort of situation. Adam is also prone to these moments of unsteadiness, where he has a psychic episode that gives him a vision of his future. But this idea isn’t really formed and it does nothing to enhance the story. On top of this is the premise. This sort of shenanigan isn’t really enough to hang a novel on. I thought it could be, that’s why I bought it, but it ends up being sort of “Three’s Company”-ish in its wha-oh, almost busted-ness. The characters from the GLBTQ community are tropes: The butch lesbian, the trans-chaser, the activists protesting a marriage equality march because they believe marriage equality is one tiny issue in the community that is sucking all the attention. There is a sort of Tao Lin-style vapidness to the characters and they’re hard to connect with. This is not to say that Schrag should have written The Great American GLBTQ Novel instead of this light piece of puffery, but this is to say that it’s not a very good book from someone whose comics were pretty cool.

  • Larry H
    2019-06-28 10:36

    Sometimes when we're attracted to a person we bend the truth about ourselves a little bit to get them to like us. But no one does it quite like 17-year-old Adam Freedman.As Adam's junior year of high school ends, he's not quite sure he fits in with friends anymore, because they all have girlfriends and he tends to be a little more on the awkward side. He desperately wants a girlfriend, however, and really wants to lose his virginity (although don't tell anyone he's a virgin). When his friends start pairing off in couples, leaving him the odd man out, Adam decides to spend the summer living with his sister Casey in New York City, where she is a student at Columbia and has fully immersed herself in the LGBT culture, without worrying that their parents will find out.Adam finds himself drifting aimlessly through the summer, still feeling like a third wheel, and longing to meet the girl his dreams have envisioned—a beautiful redhead—so he can go back to his California high school a completely different person. When he meets Gillian—a redhead, no less—at a rally in support of same-sex marriage. He is instantly smitten, and when they meet again at a party, the two feel a strong connection. There's just one problem—Gillian is a lesbian, and has no desire to date a man. What's a guy to do?Desperate to build a relationship with Gillian, he pretends to be transgender, one who was born female but has transitioned to male, which explains Adam's youthful appearance. (He's also led her to believe he's 22, the same age she is.) Adam knows that a lie, especially one so serious, isn't a good foundation on which to build a relationship, but he can't stand the thought of being without Gillian. The more intense their relationship grows, the more he feels pressure to tell the truth, but instead he learns everything there is to know about being transgender, so his cover doesn't get blown.But Adam realizes how one lie leads to other lies, and the pressure of maintaining such a facade takes its toll on happiness. And he also learns that memorizing facts about what it's like to be transgender doesn't even scratch the surface of understanding what life is really like. Along the way he'll find himself in some compromising positions (both sexually and ethically), and he'll be more surprised than he ever imagined.Ariel Schrag's debut novel is sweet, funny, and quirky. At times I found Adam's character a bit reprehensible, but then I remembered he was only 17, and many an immature 17-year-old has done far worse, particularly in the pursuit of sex and love. (Often more the former than the latter.) Adam pokes fun at every LGBT stereotype, and while it does raise some interesting social issues, ultimately it's simply a charming boy-meets-girl novel, albeit this one tweaks that formula a bit.I enjoyed this book, quirks and all, and found Schrag's storytelling ability to be breezy and refreshing. I'll definitely be watching to see what comes next in her career.

  • Kevin Seccia
    2019-06-23 07:41

    Adam is absolutely hilarious and funny isn't even what it does best. It's smart, sad, hopeful and filled with clever, true to life dialogue, but what it has the most of is heart. Heart as a description has been sort of abused and over referenced to where it doesn't mean anything anymore. When I say heart what I mean is the book has a spirit and guts and an earnest sense of life that you just don't see very often. In books or life. (I'd say pluck but that sounds twee? Right? I feel like I'd turn on someone who just used pluck like that was a normal thing.) This book has heart.To be honest, I didn't know much about the world the book takes us into, and I was a little worried that would be a problem. I can be lazy sometimes about reading what I like and if you know you already like the setting or time period of a book you're part way there. But it didn't end up mattering, at all. The book is filled with such vivid, fully realized characters - who charmed me so completely - I'd have followed them into anything: Russian lit, romance, a western, an opera, something with powerful teen witches but one's a secret pirate captain, etc. it wouldn't have mattered. The bottom line is I laughed hard, enjoyed every moment and at least twice felt like I'd been gut-punched by one of those dudes who can rip a phone book in half. I love this book. You can't ask for more than that.

  • Leah
    2019-06-22 14:22

    I don't know how to rate this book or how to describe my reaction, really. In some ways, it's a pretty typical coming of age book, in the sense that it's about a teenager who is not particularly likeable learning about the world and themselves and as a result becoming much more tolerable. I felt relief at the end, and liked Adam enough to feel glad that things worked out relatively well even though a lot of the book made me cringe-y and uncomfortable, just because I was so sure something horrible would happen. That this rather typical journey was undertaken in the midst of some unusual circumstances for a straight wealthy white guy was an interesting twist, and I applaud the author - you can tell she had fun with it and I like that. All of that being said, I am having a complicated reaction to some of the things that happened in the book and the consequences of said things (or lack thereof). I see that the ending has made a lot of people mad, and I can understand why, though I'm not sure where on the emotional spectrum I'm landing, yet. No matter what, though, the book does present a LOT to talk about and learn from - I think it would be an interesting book for young people (maybe college age?) to read and discuss.

  • Kevin Fanning
    2019-06-28 07:52

    GHGHGHAKFJKFJADSLFJKDSAFJ THIS IS THE PERFECT BOOK.When did I start this, yesterday? I could not put this down. I also could not keep it in my hand. As I mentioned on twitter (and Ariel retweeted O_O ) this is a book that uses the "I can't tell this person the truth about me or it'll ruin our relationship" frame. Which I know is, like, A LOT of books and movies, but I find it very, very stressful. And the lies compound, as they always do, and so I would seriously have to take a break every few pages and put the book down and breath and walk around. All of which is about me, not the book. Because then I would be like: NO I NEED TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS and pick it right back up again. Everything about this book is great. It's funny, it's scary, it's weird, it's sad, it's true, it's SEXY, and it's sweet as hell. Just perfect. This is a GOOD BOOK. I RECOMMEND THAT PEOPLE READ IT.

  • Dianah
    2019-07-01 12:34

    I actually really liked this book. The characters are complex and the gender/sexuality confusion is extremely interesting. Not for the squeamish, there is a lot of explicit sex here, but it is important to the story, and Schrag is quite matter-of-fact about it. Adam seems like a real teenage boy to me: willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants, and not at all aware of the consequences his actions set in motion. Many readers are distressed by some bad behavior, which goes unpunished, but this also seems like real life to me. Schrag's writing is great and her story is compelling; I read the book in one day. Nicely done.

  • Dana
    2019-07-16 12:36

    Adam is a beautiful, coming of age, messed up love story. I loved Adam's inner monologue, it was so realistic. The gender language kind of went over my head, although I love how this book really made me think. At times it made me uncomfortable and confused but I think that is just another reason why it was so important that I read this book.4/5. Adam is totally messed up and I love it.Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

  • Valerie
    2019-07-19 09:40

    You know how when you used to read Judy Blume and you felt like you were always on verge of finally getting to the dirty stuff but then the scene would be over with some PG moment that barely lasted more than a few lines? Well, Ariel Schrag's novel finally pulls back the covers all the way and exposes what life and sex and growing up all really feel like in today's world and it's anything but PG.

  • Andrew
    2019-06-26 09:29

    Why would I want to read a homphobic, transphobic mess of a novel?Why would I want to read a book about a cisgender straight man pretending to be a trans woman to get a lesbian girl?Why would I want to read about the guy succeeding in "turning the lesbian straight"?

  • Patrick Brown
    2019-07-10 07:25

    This is a really fascinating book. It's also a really enjoyable book. Even the relatively negative reviews I've seen of it grant it that. The main character felt so real to me, so alive, so human, and also unique and distinct from anybody I'd seen on the page before. And the minor characters, the ones who are necessarily more flat, were still interesting and provided very true (in my opinion) points of view. I'm wrapping the rest of this in a spoiler because the end of the book poses some very interesting questions and I wouldn't want anybody to read this book knowing what is coming. Read on at your own peril if you haven't finished the book.(view spoiler)[There are, I think, two lenses through which to view the end of the book. The first is not very charitable towards the characters, especially Adam. That view takes the position that Adam is, in essence, a rapist for not telling Gillian that he isn't transgendered and instead having sex with her, repeatedly, under the pretense that he was born female. He operates under false pretenses and deceives her for the expressed reason of getting laid, which makes him a scumbag. Gillian, in turn, appears to be less of a character for not reacting with revulsion and horror upon discovering Adam's secret. Both characters are implicated in events that appear to take the book into a somewhat reactionary place.That's one way to view it. I wouldn't say it's necessarily wrong. I'll admit that I felt this at various points reading the book.In the end, I viewed it differently, though. The way I saw it, Gillian knew at some point that Adam was cisgendered...and she didn't care. Or at least, she didn't care enough to stop seeing him. Because she liked him. She didn't care not because labels like straight and gay and male and female don't matter at all. On the contrary, those labels do end up forming our identities. In the best of circumstances, they are self-imposed labels and not something forced upon us by others, but regardless, they are ways that we choose to say "This is who I am." And sadly, in the worst of circumstances -- circumstances the novel doesn't shy away from -- people die because of those labels.That being said, I think this book posits, in a very convincing way, that those labels matter tremendously to a point. They matter, but ultimately, a relationship can transcend them. Because as much as the labels have meaning, they cannot define the breadth of a person. Not every relationship does transcends them, but Adam and Gillian, for a brief period of time, are in love, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. To suggest that this isn't possible is to essentially side with Brad, who thinks that a transgender woman is wrong for deceiving straight guys into having sex with her. Ethan himself doesn't always tell people he's trans before hooking up with them. The book seems to me to refuse to land on something as neat or tidy as "straight people are this way" or "gay people are like this." It offers trenchant critiques of both straights and gays, without condemning or praising either group. Instead, it attempts to dig deeper into the idea of gender and sexuality and to offer us something more. And I think that makes it a very brave book. (hide spoiler)]

  • Kats
    2019-07-13 12:25

    In Adam our eponymous 17 year old hero from the San Francisco Bay area manages to persuade his mother to let him spend the summer before his final year at high school with his lesbian sister, Casey, in New York City. Apparently, their parents don't know that their daughter is lesbian nor what she gets up to in New York (she's a student at Columbia but she seems to be spending most of her time attending "queer sex" parties and other orgies).If Adam was written with a teenage readership in mind, I worry about what language has become acceptable in that generation, and more importantly what kind of behaviour. Sorry - I turned 40 last year, and I'm clearly embracing middle aged grumpiness with a passion; most likely I'm just out of touch. I'm no prude, and those who know me can vouch that I'm partial to a "bit" of swearing myself when opportunity arises, but the gratuitous coarse language in this book was worse than in The Slap where Christos Tsiolkas managed to drop more than 400 f-bombs in a 485 page book. My e-copy of Adam didn't allow me a quick tally of those words, but it was horrid to read when all that foul language was supposed to be coming from the mouths and minds of 17-year-olds. Okay, I believe that some/many teenage boys have a notorious obsession with sex, but Adam's mindset was so sex focussed, it actually made him an incredibly dull person. Furthermore, I suspect that the author's objective was to shock older readers and entertain younger readers, but the dialogues were cringe-worthy to me, even without all the disgusting expressions these kids used. The storyline was unlikely (how many transgender 22 year olds happen to be hanging out in the same place?!), the characters largely unsympathetic, the protagonist an egocentric dullard, the slew of sex scenes pretty revolting, the "humour" seriously unfunny, and the writing nothing special. Another off-putting thing were the many racist as well as sexist remarks, the mocking and prejudice directed at Jews by Adam's sister and flatmates (perhaps the author thought she could get away with it, sporting a Jewish name herself, but it was all very uncouth) and the fact that these kids seemed to live in a very, very white world, albeit in the middle of New York. I am amazed that this book was entered for the Tournament of Books 2015 - the only reason I finished reading it was to see if it would get better. It didn't. For a much better read on teenage sex and transgender issues, I recommend The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson.

  • Ami
    2019-07-15 14:31

    Adam is a YA book that I have absolutely never read before. Anyone looking for unique YA has to read this book. The main character Adam isn't quite fitting in at school. His friends are a little boring, and his grades could be better. To try to kick him out of this funk, his parents let him visit his older sister, a Columbia student living in Bushwick, for the summer. Adam's older sister is a proudly out lesbian -- in New York City, home is a different story -- that welcomes Adam into a world of L Word watching, marches for gay marriage, and very few men. In fact, the only men Adam meets are transgendered. What I love about this story is the pains Schrag has taken to make sure you're completely in touch with Adam's experience. Adam is definitely not gay, but he's also not bothered by his sister's out status, or the gender of any of her friends. While at times it can be confusing to Adam, his biggest challenge overall is not accepting any of the transgender people he meets, but in worrying about seeming like a loser for not understanding what is going on. Luckily, he's pretty adept with Google. I was really touched by the sibling relationship in this book, which rang very true. Adam loves his sister, accepts her completely, and while he may not approve of everything she does, wants to give her to space to figure out who she is. One element of the book that rang a bit false (view spoiler)[was the ending. I found Gillian's quick acceptance of Adam's lies to be a suspicious. It was one false note in a relationship that otherwise felt completely true, especially the ending. (hide spoiler)]It hasn't been especially easy for me to admit that I am getting older, but this book made me realize how much things have changed in the years since I was in high school. It was a very good feeling.

  • Tyler
    2019-06-25 13:41

    I tore through this book in a little over a day, sometimes wishing I could stop everything I had to do just so I could read it. It brought me so much joy that I didn't want it to end. It is so smart, so honest, so sexy and dirty and complicated and true. I'll be thinking about it for a very long time. Everyone should read it.