Somebody Told Me
Published April 7, 2020
About Somebody Told Me
After an assault, bigender seventeen-year-old Aleks/Alexis is looking for a fresh start―so they voluntarily move in with their uncle, a Catholic priest. In their new bedroom, Aleks/Alexis discovers they can overhear parishioners in the church confessional. Moved by the struggles of these “sinners,” Aleks/Alexis decides to anonymously help them, finding solace in their secret identity: a guardian angel instead of a victim.
But then Aleks/Alexis overhears a confession of another priest admitting to sexually abusing a parishioner. As they try to uncover the priest’s identity before he hurts anyone again, Aleks/Alexis is also forced to confront their own abuser and come to terms with their past trauma.
I am really struggling to write this review, not because the book was bad. It was a difficult read because of the subject matter, but the story was really compelling.
One of the things I struggled with was Aleks/Alexis’ character.On the one hand, I really enjoyed reading a book with a bigender character and I felt like the story showed Aleks/Alexis’ identity really well. I loved that their parents were supportive and champions for them but that they also were willing to step back and let Aleks/Alexis fight their own battles.
I also thought the exploration of the cosplay and Comic Con scene was compelling. This is a story that does not shy away from some of the harmful behaviors that can happen at those events, and while that was dark, it raised some really necessary ideas.
There were things that I found difficult to like– Aleks/Alexis was really prickly. It sometimes felt like they jumped to some really negative conclusions about people very quickly and that kind of harsh judgmental response grated. Aleks/Alexis also battles an incredibly negative and shaming inner voice that sometimes was hard for me to read, too. It showed how deeply hurtful the misgendering or transphobic words could be because of being coupled with this inner voice, but it sometimes was very difficult to read.
On the other hand– it does make sense that someone still processing and recovering from a sexual assault would have strong feelings of anger and lash out at people around them, so I feel like it was not out of place or arbitrary. It just challenged me as a reader.
I loved that the story showed how personal a faith experience can be– that some characters practiced a peaceful, loving and accepting faith even if others used their faith as a way of controlling people or a route to victimizing others.
Over all, SOMEBODY TOLD ME is a dark story that takes an unflinching look at abuse within the church and the harmful objectification and abuse of cosplay characters in a complex way with an ultimate message of hope, acceptance, and recovery from trauma.
Please read the content below for more information on potential triggers in this book.
Recommended for Ages 15 up.
Aleks/Alexis is bigender. At least two other characters identify as gay. Two others share kisses with a bigender character but don’t label themselves.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently until the end of the book, where there’s a more frequent use.
Romance/Sexual Content – Trigger Warning for sexual abuse, assault, and homophobic and transphobic comments.
Aleks/Alexis briefly describes their sexual history, including details about kissing and references to sex. Two boys kiss.
Aleks/Alexis has brief flashbacks to a toxic relationship and a sexual assault. Eventually the assault is described in more detail. (Details on the assault at the end of the review under Spoilers.)
A priest makes a somewhat vague confession about abusing a parishoner, saying he has given the person a “special Communion,” a code which the priest hearing the confession seems to understand means sexual abuse. Later, the priest makes overt statements about whom he abused and threatens to abuse someone else, grabbing them inappropriately.
The novel contains misgendering as well as several homophobic and transphobic comments as well.
Aleks/Alexis’ uncle is a Catholic priest who requires them to attend mass each week and hears confession of his parishoners. References to conversion camp.
Some characters in the story practice a rigid, fearful or harsh faith. Others practice a more loving, accepting faith that is still deeply important to them.
Police inspect the murder of a boy found strangled near the church. Brief descriptions of assault. Someone threatens to abuse a minor and brags about abusing others. A two teens are trapped inside a burning building.
Note: I received a free copy of SOMEBODY TOLD ME in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog.
Aleks/Alexis experienced an assault at a comic con after a boyfriend pressured them to allow a crowd of 80 panel attendees to line up and, one at a time, pin them to the wall and kiss them for photos. It’s clear that Aleks/Alexis didn’t want or consent to this experience and that it as well as the toxic/abusive behavior of their boyfriend caused trauma.