Laura Krughoff received a nod for her novel “My Brother’s Name,” when it was nominated for debut fiction by the Lambda Literary Awards this year. The nominators apparently were impressed with the novelty of the novel which takes an old device like switched identities and gives it a new transgender twist.
The novel, which takes place during the high school and college years of the two main characters Jane and John Fields, may be more appealing to young adults rather than older readers. But the story does make for interesting reading by both demographics.
Jane Fields is a young girl who looks up to her older brother and follows him like a clumsy puppy, even as far as mastering his most passionate pursuit: music. But when John begins having psychotic episodes when he goes away to college, his entire family is changed by his condition, especially his little sister. John enlists her to help him overcome his mental illness with a scheme that includes Jane “becoming” John initially to help them avoid any kind of problems when driving a rented vehicle when they decide to move away from their concerned parents. It’s a flimsy premise that allows for further complications as the story progresses. When Jane, acting as her brother, begins to fall in love, she finds it harder and harder to maintain the ruse.
Meanwhile, Krughoff has a hard time tying up loose ends when the siblings’ true identities are revealed to friends in dramatic fashion and there are many unanswered questions at the end of the book. But it’s worth a read to see the kinds of new stories authors are writing for the LGBT community.