Lamb, Sacha. “Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live”, Book Smugglers Publishing , 2017.
A Fairy Tale
When Avi sees that he has only six months to live written on a bathroom mirror, he is confused. He does not understand what these words could mean and whether this is the work of the bullies at school and meant to be a prediction of what is to come. I hesitate to call this a novel since it is only 70 pages long, yet in those 70 pages are the makings of a novel.
Avi is having a difficult time but things begin to look better with the arrival of Ian, the new guy at school who seems to notice Avi and pay attention to him. All of us either know someone like Avi or actually see ourselves in him. Anyone who has ever been bullied or been depressed will recognize in Avi some of what they also went through. However, there is something else and that is that Avi is transgender. We are very aware of the he feels. Avi does not want us to see the sad side of his life and he comes across as an optimist despite what he has to deal with. He feels these issues inside and sees Ian as the bright side of his days. He is so well adjusted and accepted by all.
To tackle a subject such as this is risky but Sacha Lamb also brings is religion by sharing Avi’s Jewishness and also shows us Ian as a young man raised by two moms. We rarely get stories that include experiences of trans boyhood that are unobtrusive and natural and, for me, that is what makes this such a good read.
Avi Cantor is a high-school student in mid-transition. We read about a new bullying technique that is complicated and difficult to deal with. But this is not a story about bullying but about self-loathing. It’s both heartbreaking and life- affirming. Avi’s relationship with Ian and his family might not fix everything but it gives hope. The prose is beautiful and the story is important.
We see how as class, religion, and society make us who we are and while I cannot share much of the plot with you for fearing of ruining what the story has to say, let me just mention that this is a powerful little book that needs to be read. It is genuine and sincere with likeable characters and gay trans boys in love and choosing life and love when despair and alienation are the alternatives.