*I received a copy of this book for review, but was not compensated financially in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based solely on my experiences while reading this book.*
Title: Firstborn: A Novel
Author: Lorie Ann Grover
Where does a firstborn girl fit in a world dominated by men?
When Tiadone was born, her parents had two choices: raise their daughter as male and force her to suppress all feminine traits, or leave her outside the community to die in the wilds. Now, as the first female living as male in her village, Tiadone must prove her father didn’t make a mistake by letting her live. As her time of male initiation approaches, Tiadone desperately wishes to belong, and be accepted in her world—though at every step it appears the Creator allows traditional feminine gifts and traits to emerge, as well as cursing her with a singing bird the ruling culture sees as a sign of the devil.
Worse, as Tiadone completes her initiation rites, she finds she is drawn to her male best friend and patrol mate in ways that are very much in line with the female gender.
Confused and desperate, Tiadone tries to become what she must be while dealing with what she indeed has become: a young woman who may be able to free her people from despotic rule and allow the Creator’s name to be sung once more.
I was immediately pulled into Firstborn with my heart strings tugged. I always have mixed feelings about starting a book that makes me want to cry right from the beginning. Thankfully, those emotions were just in the first chapter and occasionally throughout the book, but nothing too overwhelming.
I really enjoyed Firstborn for a Young Adult book. The pacing works because of the audience it’s trying to reach. Things move quickly which is pretty typical of young adult books. The author covers a year of time within 292 pages, but I think she manages to capture the development of the main character, Tiadone, very well. The idea of a society that is being ruled by a conquering nation that doesn’t allow the first born to live if it is born a girl is intriguing, but the idea of them allowing a girl to be declared a male and raised as a male in order to live is brilliant. I love how Grover showed the emerging femininity that Tiadone experienced throughout the book. It was subtle and she didn’t always notice it herself, but as a reader you knew exactly what was happening.
I wasn’t sure how Firstborn would end. I wanted things to work out for Tiadone but I didn’t see how they could. I don’t want to do any spoilers here, but I was satisfied with how things worked out, though there are so many questions that I have. Sometimes you feel completely dissatisfied with a book if you have too many questions afterward, but this time I’m okay that they’re not answered. I can fill in those blanks myself. I am hoping there is a sequel in the future. I would really love to pick up with Tiadone and see how things progress with her. I’m really hoping there are plans for it.