Detransition, Baby is, simply put, fantastic. But somehow even the most complimentary adjectives feel insufficient to describe Torrey Peters’ first novel, as they cannot adequately capture the experience of spending time with her characters, who are so fully realized and complex that the truth seeps out of them from the first page.
The story centers on three people: Reese, a mid-30s transgender woman; her ex, Amy, now Ames, who detransitioned following their breakup three years ago; and Ames’ superior at work, Katrina, a cisgender woman. Ames’ clandestine hookups with Katrina have resulted in an unexpected pregnancy. Now, faced with the question of parenthood and what fatherhood would mean for his identity, Ames reaches out to Reese. If Reese could co-parent with them, maybe he could feel confident about his own role.
Navigating a pending shared parenthood isn’t simple, and Peters takes the reader on a vivid trip through the characters’ backstories to show how they have arrived here, adding intricate layers to every moment. She displays a masterful control over this story, offering a psychological deep dive that is still entertaining thanks to the potency of Reese, Ames and Katrina. The vivid supporting cast is equally as endearing, as not one side character seems to understand that they are not the lead.
Devastating, hilarious, touching, timely and studded with fun pop culture references and celebrity cameos, this is an acutely intelligent story about womanhood, parenthood and all the possibilities that lie within.