Almost Perfect

Almost Perfect

by Brian Katcher

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This winner of the first Stonewall Award for Children’s & Young Adult Literature will make you marvel at the beauty of human connection and the irrepressible nature of love.
Everyone has that one line they swear they’ll never cross, the one thing they say they’ll never do. We draw the line. Maybe we even believe it.
Sage Hendricks was my line.
Logan Witherspoon befriends Sage Hendricks at a time when he no longer trusts or believes in people. He's drawn to Sage, with her constant smile and sexy voice, and his feelings for her grow so strong that he can’t resist kissing her. 

Sage finally discloses a big secret: she was born a boy. Enraged, frightened, and feeling betrayed, Logan lashes out at her–a reaction he soon desperately wishes he could take back. Once his anger cools, Logan is filled with incredible regret, and all he wants is to repair his friendship with Sage.

But it’s hard to replace something that’s been broken—and it’s even harder to find your way back to friendship when you began with love.
“Tackles issues of homophobia, hate crimes and stereotyping with humor and grace in an accessible tone that will resonate with teens.” –Kirkus Reviews
“It is Sage's story that is truly important.” –SLJ
“Teens—both those familiar with transgender issues and those who are not—will welcome the honest take on a rarely explored subject.” –Booklist
“A sensitive examination of the seldom treated subject of transgender teens.” –VOYA

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375893797
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 328,230
Lexile: HL620L (what's this?)
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Brian Katcher is the author of Playing with Matches, and a school librarian. He lives in Missouri with his wife and daughter. You can visit him on the Web at

Read an Excerpt

chapter one

I’m not sure what I loved most about being on the track team. Maybe it was the crippling shin splints. Or constantly feeling like I’d just smoked three packs of cigarettes. Maybe it was the empty stands at every meet, or the way the results got buried in the local sports section.

The football field was by far the best feature of Boyer, Missouri. My hometown, which barely boasted two thousand people, pumped nearly every tax dollar they could into maintaining the facility. The city of Boyer was little more than a half-dozen trailer parks, an electronics factory, and five churches, but the football field was always pristine. The maintenance staff mowed the grass twice a week and watered it every day in the summer. The bleachers gleamed, the locker rooms sparkled, and the scoreboard towered like some great pagan idol. The crumbling structure of Boyer High School stood across the parking lot, almost as an afterthought.

Us track poseurs were permitted to run the perimeter of the sacred field, but only when the football heroes had no use for it. During the fall we had to run laps in the parking lot while the Boyer Bears practiced. One time we were run off by the marching band, which gives you an idea of where we stood in the school food chain.

It was mid-November. My friend Jack Seversen and I had managed to squeeze in some after-school running, trying to stay in shape for the winter. The cold wind chilled my sweat-soaked body, making me shiver and swelter at the same time. Exhausted and thirsty, I walked a final lap to avoid muscle cramps, then limped toward the watercooler.

“You suck, Logan!” shouted Jack, jogging up behind me. Even though he’d run as much as I had, he was still vibrating with raw energy. Thin as a whip and gangly, Jack reminded me of a broken fan belt, wildly flailing in no particular direction. Track wasn’t a sport for him; it was merely an excuse to move.

“Hey, check it out.” He jabbed his bony, spastic hand toward the football field. The Boyer cheerleaders were wrapping up their practice. I’d heard that in bigger towns, only the pretty, graceful girls made the squads. In Boyer, with a student body of about two hundred, the only membership requirement was a majority of intact limbs and the ability to bend at the waist.

Jack and I reached the water table. I chugged a couple of cups, while my friend, in spite of the low temperature, dumped his over his head. He shook like a wet dog. Eventually, he managed to focus on me. Even then, his protruding brown eyes spun in their orbits like a weather vane in March. Jack had that intense mania common in serial killers and car salesmen.

“You should go talk to Tanya. She likes you.”

Without meaning to, I glanced over at the squad. I could just make out Tanya’s form as she did jumping jacks with the others.

“It’s a wonder she doesn’t knock herself out,” I muttered. In elementary school (in Boyer, you knew all your classmates since kindergarten), Tanya had been the fat girl. Then, in eighth grade, most of her body mass had migrated into her chest. She wasn’t exactly bikini material, but she did have a couple of good points.

“C’mon, Logan. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t like to press your face into her chest and make motorboat noises.”

I stifled a laugh. “Piss off, Jack.”

I walked over to the bleachers and grabbed my bag from next to my old bike. Jack followed me, almost uncomfortably closely, and then suddenly grabbed my shoulder.

“Dude, it’s time to get back in the game.”

I yanked away. “Drop it, okay?”

He didn’t drop it. “You’re a senior, Logan. In May, we leave this place forever. Don’t spend your last semester moping about your ex-girlfriend.”

I stormed into the gymnasium, a blocky building that we shared with the middle school next door. I made sure I was alone in the locker room. Then I drove my fist into a metal door. The sound echoed through the empty room. Pain radiated through my wrist and shoulder.

Jack thought he was being helpful. He thought Brenda had just been another girl. For the past month, he’d been trying to fix me up. To him, all I needed to do was make out with some random chick and I’d forget about how Brenda had dumped me.

To be quite honest, she never actually dumped me. It was her decision to sleep with another guy that had put the strain on our three-year relationship.

I quickly stripped down and hopped in the shower. As the stall steamed up, I thought about Brenda. The homecoming dance in early October. I’d sold my baseball card collection just to pay for her corsage and had to drive to nearby Columbia to rent my tuxedo.

I paused, midlather, remembering that night. My tux hadn’t fit exactly right; my arms were too long and my chest too broad. With my advanced hairline and jutting forehead, I’d thought I resembled a shaved ape. Even with my mom’s help, I looked like some Mafia don’s bodyguard; a muscle-bound lummox, washed and dressed for a night out with sophisticated people.

Brenda had told me I looked suave, like a James Bond supervillain. She’d said I had the face of an angel and the body of a god. I found out later she didn’t always tell the truth.

Brenda had been dolled up like someone you’d see on a movie poster. Her long black hair had been styled at the local salon. She’d worn blush on her high cheekbones and had left her glasses at home, even though that meant she was almost blind. Her dark blue dress had exposed her smooth shoulders. As I strapped the corsage onto her delicate wrist, I’d felt a sting of electricity shoot through my arm, down my legs, and out the heels of my rented shoes. Of the dozens and dozens of guys in Boyer, Brenda had chosen me. If I’d won a million dollars in the lottery the next day, I’d have called the money the other good thing that happened that week.

After the dance, I’d driven her in my mom’s car to the empty field out by the water tower. I don’t think I’d ever been that nervous. I wanted everything to be perfect. I had a blanket in the trunk and her favorite songs in the CD player. I had driven all the way out to Moberly to buy condoms.

We’d kissed for about two minutes. Then Brenda had asked me to drive her home. I could still remember the little speech she gave me as we pulled into her driveway at eleven p.m.

Logan, I’m just not ready for that. Could we wait a little longer? Please? Think about how special it will be.

As I turned off the shower and wrapped a towel tightly around my waist, I wondered how special it had been for Brenda. I just wished I could have been there.

Customer Reviews

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Almost Perfect 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 92 reviews.
KarenDelleCava-YA_author More than 1 year ago
Heartsick over being dumped by his girlfriend, Logan’s interest in girls reawakens when Sage moves to town. Sage walks a tightrope between a lust for life and a deep fear that her secret will be exposed. A growing attraction between the two explodes after a single kiss. Not every teen will experience Logan’s confusing romantic situation but readers will admire the strength of Logan’s character. He witnesses the psychological cruelty Sage experiences with her father, and the physical abuse she endures when she tests telling her truth "up front." I applauded the courage of this couple who try to make their relationship work. Brian Katcher captures the joy and pain of 2 teens dating, one straight, one transgendered with a touch of humor and true compassion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i read this book i did not read the summer revealing sages secret therefore i was completely caught into the book. But either way this book is a heart felt book without the cheesy lovey dovey non sense & is about the true meaning of loving and caring for someone for exactly who they are. I am not a romance type but this book ABSOLUTELY an Exception.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just like the title this book is almost perfect. But almost isnt perfect. I feel that the ending was realistic but i wish there had been just one more chapter. I wish that they would have gotten togther just one more time. But it was real and well written but not for everyone. But beautful.
TLBegley More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was in college and was hooked from the start. I was so upset with Logan when he turned Sage away but I can understand why he did it. I wish that there were more books as truly heart felt as this one. Truly a great book about finding yourself and falling in love and coming of age in this new era. I hope to read more book by Mr. Katcher.
KDH_Reviews More than 1 year ago
I find it really disappointing that there's a huge spoiler in the summary. I feel like I would have enjoyed the book more if I didn't know Sage's big secret going into the book. I have very mixed feelings about Almost Perfect. It was one of those books that I couldn't put down until I finished it, but there wasn't anything that was particularly amazing about it. I really wanted to like it more than I did. I'm not sure where it fell flat for me, but it did.
Chedlyne More than 1 year ago
This story is about a boy named logan who recently broke up with his girlfriend becuase she cheats on him an then theres a new girl named sage who he becomes intrested in. When logan figures out what sage really is he freaks out about it and feels to embarassed to have her as a friend. I like this story because it kind of showed what transgender people go through and how much they go through because of who they want to be. The story shows how any person faced with news like this would react. This story was more of a lesson on what it'd be better to do if you were in the situation.
lawral on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Almost Perfect, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.I love thine characters in their complexity and their completeness,From their talk of motorboating to their genuine concern for each otherThey make me think of actual teenagers rather than teen-aged "types."I love Tammi's fierce love for her sister, masquerading as aloofness:Most quiet need to protect and hope at the same time.I love Logan's mother, who has done her best in trying circumstances.I love Logan's cool and supportive older sister (who tries to help him get laid).Logan, I love thee. Insecurities and bravery and insecurities againIn situations never expected, and with grace unmatched by peers.I love every characters' flaws; none is the pinnacle of righteousness or political correctness.Sage, the object of Logan's affection and mine, shines as brightly as her braces.She lives in the belief that the world can be better and love worth the risk;And, if God choose, she is right.*Seriously guys, this is an amazing book, and Brian Katcher is an amazing author. That might explain why I've been waiting for my turn to read it from the library since it was announced as the winner of the Stonewall in January. It was more than worth the wait. Everyone has talked about the Big Issue that Almost Perfect addresses, but I have yet to see someone talk about how the issues (more than one, even) are in perfect balance with the flirting and the humor and the sexiness and the teenage-guy-ness of the book as a whole.I loved it. You probably will too.Book source: Philly Free Library (but I'm gonna go buy my own asap)* To Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I extend my greatest thanks for the inspiration. And my apologies.
MAINEiac4434 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Epic. Depressing. Heartfelt. Those words come to mind when thinking about this masterpiece.The writing, at least for me, captured me immediately. Logan is interesting, and the first person perspective makes the hard topics in this book all the more real.Intensely dramatic, the subject matter in the book isn't for everyone. It swears like a sailor (still not as much as me daily, though) and is occasionally violent.I'm surprised this isn't more popular. The writing is excellent, the story is spectacular (albeit incredibly depressing). I have one criticism: when the big reveals or twists were coming up, I could see the coming from about three pages before. It might not apply to everyone, but it did too me.This book is phenomenal. Definitely for an older young adult audience (e.g., you wouldn't want your 11-year-old reading this, especially if you're socially conservative). I highly recommend Almost Perfect. One of the best books I've read in a long time.
thelibrarina on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sage is a new girl in the town of Boyer, Missouri, and she's got a secret: the phrase "new girl" is a lot more apt than anybody thinks. Sage is transgendered, a girl born physically male. Her family is still coming to terms with the decision, and her trans status is a tremendous secret. Logan Witherspoon has never met a girl like Sage, and he's immediately attracted to her. When he learns her secret, though, he's initially repulsed. Gradually, with many stops and starts, he becomes closer to Sage; however, he's unable to accept her completely, and in the end that lack of acceptance is costly.I wish we had been able to see the story through Sage's eyes. Although Logan's homo- and transphobic vacillating was realistic, he began to get annoying to me after the third or fourth time he got close to Sage and then backed away again. Really experiencing Sage's thoughts and emotions would have been even more affecting than seeing her outward reactions to Logan's attitudes, and the final events of the book would have been less suspenseful but much more moving.In a lot of novels that deal with serious subject matter, there's a point where you feel the right side of the book growing lighter in your hand, and you realize that there's not enough time left for a happily ever after. You know that the ending is either going to be happy-but-unsatisfying, or sad-but-affecting, but you push on nevertheless. If you've read much in the way of LGBT teen fiction, you can probably guess which track the writer chose. It works well.
crochetbunnii on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Logan lives in a small town in Missouri. After recovering from a breakup with his girlfriend of three years, he befriends the new girl in school, Sage, and notices she's playing hard to get. She never says goodbye and she says her parents won't let her date, even though she's sixteen. When Logan finds out she's transgendered, he's enraged, disgusted, and then tolerant. Logan is a tender-hearted character who wants to do what is right by people, but only so far as it doesn't conflict with his own agenda. A story about tolerance and understanding, told not from the transgendered person's perspective, but that of a close friend who is struggling to come to terms. I would recommend this book to older teens as it contains themes about sexuality, sexual relations, cussies and violence. Contains an eccentric female character similar to Lyga's Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl.
BookWhisperer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First off I am not a judgmental person, and I am finding in my reading that I learn more about questionable topics that I would typically stray from. While I was interested in reading this book to have a chance to look at a world in which I am not familiar; I was unable to find any interest in continuing this book. To be completely honest I was only able to complete half of the book, and it was not at being unable to accept the content. So, this I have to say my final decision is that this is not the book for me.
roguelibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Plot: Logan is feeling depressed after breaking up with his cheating girlfriend. His friends think he should forget her and find another love before high school ends. He doesn¿t think he¿ll ever get over his broken heart until a new girl sashays into class. He finds Sage beautiful and fascinating and she seems to like him too. But dating is no simple matter. Her parents won¿t let her go out, even as a friend, and she seems to have some secret she can¿t tell him. When he finds out that she was born a boy, he doesn¿t know how to react.Like Luna, this is a novel about transgendered youth told from the perspective of someone close to them. I still hope for a good ya novel in the words of a trans-teen but meanwhile this novel is quite well done. It isn¿t always an easy novel. There are moments of sweet teenage romance. But for the most part Logan doesn¿t handle Sage¿s secret and their relationship well. Logan isn¿t a bad person. He wants to be understanding and to be good to Sage but often he hurts in his attempts to protect himself from public opinion.But Logan¿s journey to acceptance and his regrets do teach us a lot about the difficulty of living as a trans teen and how poorly even the most well intentioned cis-gendered people can deal with the situation. It is not heavy handed but it can be an uncomfortable look at how our society deals with those who are different. Nor does it end well, though one might say it ends with hope. It is well worth a read.
lilibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Logan is getting over a rough breakup when an interesting new girl moves into his small town. As they become closer, he discovers that Sage harbors a major secret.
knitwit2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Almost Perfect was an almost perfect book. The author captured the confusion of being a teen boy in an uncertain world. The main character is dealing with his attraction to another student who he thought was a girl and later finds out is biologically a boy. The author honestly deals with the feelings of both characters and does not attempt to gloss over the hard truth of friendship, love, and sexuality. The less than supportive parental response, violence from strangers, and other things are included rounding out this very real and difficult story.
MzzArts on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Regardless of your stance, this book is great exercise for the mind. It will make some readers uncomfortable, but could be helpful for those looking for insight and understanding into the possible psyche of transgendered individuals and related issues. While transgendered teens would likely appreciate the book, the story is also accessible to others, in part, because the narrator is not transgendered, but someone affected by a transgendered character, and this allows the reader to experience a wide range of emotions. The book also seems to end realistically, though, as common in YA novels, not completely resolved. Kudos to Katcher for handling a difficult topic so well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Words cannot describe how good this book is. Wow! I cried my way through it. Sage's struggle to be herself and live as the girl she knew she was touched my heart. I so wished for a happy ending for her. Alas that was not to be and her story ends rather tragically with the reader wondering what the future holds for her and for Logan, the narrator of the story and Sage's one time lover. I so wanted to reach through the pages of this book and knock some sense into them which in my opinion makes for an excellent novel. Issues of transphobia were discussed but in an embodied way. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to see life from another point of view.
toniFMAMTC More than 1 year ago
I love this story. I think this it's is a big eye-opener. It's not really a HEA but more of a cautionary tale. Logan and Sage could have had a very beautiful relationship, but Logan let too many things block him along the way. He begins as someone closed-minded and slowly begins to see his mistakes. Often the journey is one step forward and two steps back. Maybe someone will read this and be more open to things they don't understand. I'm a big supporter of everyone's rights, but, as far as I know, I've never had a trans friend. I really felt for Sage, seeing things from her POV. I had tears a few times. I felt sorry for Logan too. He was young and unprepared for all the emotions and mixed feelings. This book is a must read in my opinion. I think it inspires people to have empathy for fellow humans and not judge each other.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up and did read the back description, but even with an idea of what it would be about, it still wasn't how I expected. The book was deep and had a way of getting the reader to feel what the characters felt, or at least understand them. I think it was realist enough to happen and quite accurate. It is clear the author did some research and knew what he was talking about on this delicate subject. I really enjoyed reading Almost Perfect.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was not a book, it was a beautiful master piece. Almost Perfect was heart retching and completely amazing. The detail was great and it felt like you were actually in the mind of a teenage boy. You feel Logan's hurt and Sage's. 11 out of 10.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That is exactly what the book is. I couldn't put it down. I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster with the characters. I really did not like the ending. I felt cheated. That is this book's only flaw. Great read, however.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago