Read Bellies by Nicola Dinan

It begins as your typical boy meets boy. While out with friends at a university drag night, Tom buys Ming a drink. Confident and witty, a charming young playwright, Ming is the perfect antidote to Tom’s awkward energy, and their connection is instant. Tom finds himself deeply and desperately drawn into Ming’s orbit, and on the cusp of graduation, he’s already mapped out their future together. But, shortly after they move to London to start their next chapter, Ming announces her intention to transition.

From London to Kuala Lumpur, New York to Cologne, we follow Tom and Ming as they face shifts in their relationship in the wake of Ming’s transition. Through a spiral of unforeseen crises – some personal, some professional, some life-altering – Tom and Ming are forced to confront the vastly different shapes their lives have taken since graduating, and each must answer the essential question: is it worth losing a part of yourself to become who you are?

This novel is told in two points of views, Tom and Ming’s. The narrator isn’t always clearly identified from the start, so it sometimes took me a paragraph or two to realize that a new person was talking.

I liked the way that the same thing was shown from two very, very different points of view. And I can relate with both characters: Ming, terrified that she’s giving up on being lovable and desirable by transitioning, Tom, a gay man who loves his girlfriend but just cannot love women.

It’s a very slow trainwreck, with some hope still, in some ways. It’s horrible and painful, and really good (and realistic).

Special shoutouts to Cass who deserved better than whatever all this was.

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