When I first read the blurb for No Half Measures by Jenny Walker, I have to admit I was expecting that the story would be a comedy, much like the film Tootsie (a classic 1982 film starring Dustin Hoffman for those too young to know).
I was wrong.
No Half Measures is a very different story. Sure, it starts in a similar fashion – Nick, a musician struggling to get work, decides to dress up as a female to see if he can hit the big time. But the story develops into a journey of self discovery for the main character, who as it turns out never realised he was transgender until he tried it.
What follows is a very powerful and emotive story about how the main character deals with the ups and downs of living life as a female, and struggling to fit in. Despite initially being wrong about the book being a comedy, I was compelled to continue reading as the main character divulges secrets to family and friends. He finds that while some were surprisingly supportive, others were typically not, while yet others just needed to come to grips with it first. As much as the story focusses on the main character, it also shows an adjustment period from other people, including those around her who make jokes, unaware that this would hurt our (now) heroine.
Whilst I understand that there was a sexual discovery dynamic to the story, in that Nick/Cara was attempting to work out her feelings towards men and women, I did wonder if the incestual cousin kiss was really needed, and what it adds to the story. In fact this was the only part of the story that made me wonder why I had continued reading. I think that the element of the attraction could have been adequately expressed without this.
The supporting characters are also well written with depth and diversity, from the supportive manager who nudged the main character into attempting his career as a female, through to the typically reluctant father, who does not adjust well at all to the news his only son has chosen to live as a female, but still attempts to be compassionate about the decision.
Although the book is generally very well written, there are some aspects that could use some fine tuning. However my main criticism is that the format of the e-book being in PDF presented a slight problem at times due to the font size, and constantly having to resize the page on my iPad. I understand this to be a problem more with the publisher (Lulu.com) rather than the author, and in reality it is a small complaint.
Overall I commend Walker on her brave and effective attempt to dispel the myths around transgenderism. It is not a story that I would have typically read and was surprised to find that I enjoyed it for the most part. I will definitely be reading Volume 2 at some point in the future.
Genre: Adult/Young Adult/Social Comment