review by: malic
Set in the underbellies of New York, LA, and Mexico City, Like Son captures a family narrative where love, history, and fate are inescapable.
After growing up in the barrios of Southern California, thirty-year-old Frank Cruz inherits his dead father’s legacy. Going through his father’s old possessions, Frank discovers a photograph of Nahui Olin, a revolutionary of the early 20th century Mexican avant-garde who left a scandalous mark on his own family history.
Inspired by Olin, Frank flees with her portrait to New York City where he plans to start a new life, but after falling in love with woman whose eyes are just as piercing as the woman in the photograph, he finds himself trapped in the fate his father left.
By the way, Frank is transgender.
I just skimmed through this book for the first time since I read it in 2007. Every other novel I’ve read featuring a transgender protagonist has turned into yet another coming-out story. But in Like Son, Frank’s transgender identity is barely mentioned. Sure, his gender presentation affects his experiences, interactions, and perception of the world, but Frank is so much more than a genderbender—he’s a person.
In an interview with Bookslut, author Felicia Luna Lemus explained that while she sees the value in coming-out stories, she was more interested in relaying her protagonist's life experiences rather than his struggle with identity. Mission accomplished.