DiFrancesco’s eclectic, absorbing first collection captures moments of in-betweenness (often fraught, sometimes magical) that may be especially familiar to transgender people who are not legible, temporarily or purposefully, to others or themselves ... Within these direct, straightforward stories are corridors of solitude and reflection ... Thankfully, in DiFrancesco’s hands, trans characters are no longer required to be self-serious, suffering, alternately tragic and heroic. Instead, they scroll on Twitter, talk to their friends on the internet and seek alternative forms of kinship ... The author doesn’t shy away from weaving into their work topical issues like racist memes, noncontractual labor and social media cancellations ... Unlike with the cool remove of, say, Rachel Cusk’s fiction, DiFrancesco clearly is not afraid to err on the side of sentimentality. Characters often harbor romantic fantasies of rescuing others. Tears are shed ... At the affective core of Transmutation is the question of how we can offer shelter for one another’s pain, real and imagined.
... sharp and sometimes fantastical ... How these narratives connect is left to the reader to decide. Whether striking chords that are playful, poignant, or both at once, this collection consistently charms.
Both stories feel a little simple—the boyfriend too cruel, the father too quick to understand. Instead, DiFrancesco’s gothic tales, which are wonderfully creepy, are the real winners here ... A mixed bag with a few standouts.