The Boy I Am by K.L Kettle – REVIEW

Jude is running out of time. Once a year, lucky young men in the House of Boys are auctioned to the female elite. But if Jude fails to be selected before he turns seventeen, a future deep underground in the mines awaits.

Yet ever since the death of his best friend at the hands of the all-powerful Chancellor, Jude has been desperate to escape the path set out for him. Finding himself entangled in a plot to assassinate the Chancellor, he finally has a chance to avenge his friend and win his freedom. But at what price?

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Stripes Publishing and Kaleidoscopic Book Tours.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

“Men can’t control themselves, we’re told; to look at a woman is to lose our innocence.”

I went into this book without knowing much about it and was completely blown away. In a dystopian society where traditional gender roles are swapped, KL Kettle explores the injustices that arise from power imbalances. By positioning men as the gender with little power, the gender micro-aggressions women are daily subjected to are starkly highlighted. The very fact that these sexist things happening to men evoke such horrified responses shows how far we still need to go before true equality between the sexes is achieved. 

“Girls like Romali, they get to say no. They get to blame us for choices we’re never allowed to make.”

Jude is a brilliant main character and experiences such a journey throughout the book. I was able to empathise with him and root for him every step of the way. I also loved the character of Ro who represented all the women who are also unhappy with the status quo. Gender equality can’t be achieved without men and women working together to effect change. 

“Tell them a story. It’s what I leave behind that makes my life worth living.”

This book and its themes emphasise the power of stories to spread hope and kindle change. Appropriately, the reader experiences devastating moments but is left with a feeling of hope and the urge to work together to improve society. THE BOY I AM is a powerful and incisive exploration of sexism and an important step in our feminist journey.

(Goodreads | Amazon UK | Book Depository)

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