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.
Peters is not patronising ... Peters’s mastery of plot and pacing allows her to move easily from descriptions of the effects and logistics of hormone replacement therapy to passages about the politics and pleasures of sleeping with ‘tranny chasers’ to discussions of the near impossibility of adopting a child as a ‘double-trans couple’. It’s about as open and accommodating as a novel can be ... The naughtiest thought I had while reading was that the novel recalls the work of Jonathan Franzen ... If the novel sometimes approximates the gossipy melodrama of chick lit, then perhaps it could be considered ‘radical’ in the way a trans woman becoming a Brooklyn basic might seem radical. But Peters is up to something more interesting. (Devious, even.) The book is full of swaps, reversals, projections and scenes that challenge the conventional wisdom of the left while simultaneously provoking transphobic crusaders of all political persuasions ... The most daring of Peters’s interventions belongs to the basic outline of her plot: it’s a story about two queers who try to convert a straight, cis woman to a queer lifestyle ... To be clear, I think this is very cool ... Detransition, Baby is a book ‘about’ trans women, about varieties of trans experience, but it is also a story about the possibilities and limits of what Peters calls ‘affinity’. While she links transition with divorce throughout the novel—which is dedicated to ‘divorced cis women, who, like me, had to face starting their life over without either reinvesting in the illusions from the past, or growing bitter about the future’—she also articulates what happens when you run up against someone who is not like you.