The lives of three women—two transgender and one cisgender—collide after an unexpected pregnancy and a decision to coparent forces them to confront their deepest desires around gender, motherhood, and sex.
... compassionate and convincing ... Peters weaves together this multifaceted cast in ways that leave the reader empathizing with each one even as they undermine one another. Her characters are so vividly drawn and human that the reader comes to feel personally close to them ... Peters doesn’t shy away from exposing her characters’ flaws. Nor does she shy away from an original plot. As Katrina’s pregnancy progresses and the characters shift in their desires and identities, we remain hooked on their every word. Delivered with heart and savvy, their deliberations upend our traditional, gendered notions of what parenthood can look like. By the end of Detransition, Baby, questions remain unanswered, but still the reader somehow feels satisfied.
... dishy, engrossing ... the story moves seamlessly from present to past ... prickly, funny Reese is the star of the show. Her casually devastating assessments of other characters and her sardonic narration lend the novel its insider chattiness. It’s full of the kind of talk that trans people would normally reserve for one another ... Peters’s invocation of detransition, a relatively rare phenomenon commonly cited to claim that trans people are delusional, has an air of menace to those invested in shifting transphobic attitudes. But, in refusing to avoid the sore spots of trans life, Peters offers a lucidity that would be impossible if her only goal were to inspire sympathy. She is refreshingly uninterested in persuading the public of the bravery and nobility of trans people, and lets them be as dysfunctional as anyone else.
Perhaps Detransition, Baby is the first great trans realist novel? Witty, elegant and rigorously plotted, Peters’s book breezily plays with the structural conventions of literary realism ... sexually peppery, though also casually self-instrumentalising, cliches may or may not charm the reader—they did this one—but Peters’s remarkable skill is to divert our attention from the cliche to the mode of self-narration in which it moves and has its being ... The portrayal of detransition itself is tender rather than mawkish, Ames’s motivations admirably ambivalent. Detransition, Baby makes a careful distinction between 'being trans,' which it treats as a condition of desire, and 'doing trans,' a set of actions and protocols that have simply become too exhausting for Ames to continue ... Peters’s novel approaches the well trodden topic of baby fever, and although it renders the specificity of trans community and subjectivity in vivid, electric prose, its real appeal is much wider.