Hello, Peikat (Pei + Kathy) is back with part 2 of our joint review of Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender! If you missed our first post with the book reviews, you can check it out here. For part two, we decided to ask each other some Deep and Personal questions inspired by the book and its themes. If you’re looking to pick up a copy of Felix, you can check it out on Book Depository, Indiebound, or your favorite book retailer!
Kathy’s Question: Felix has a very specific vision of love and what he wants from it. What did love mean for you when you were 17, and what do you think it means for you now?
At 17, love was what I saw in movies – late-night phone calls, daydreaming, butterflies, a magical first kiss, and most importantly, a happy ever after. It was a euphoric feeling, grand declarations, leaving behind that high-paying city job to work on a quiet ranch in the countryside.
Now? I’m realizing that while those things can still be true, love isn’t always quite so rosy. What happens after that kiss, after those initial bubbles and flurries in your stomach go away?
I’ve been so lucky to have been surrounded by incredible, selfless, strong examples of love in my life, from my family members to my friends, who’ve loved each other, and me, fiercely and devotedly. I’ve seen so many forms of love, from learning to cook someone’s favorite food to sleeping in a hospital bedside chair for a month to driving hours to sit with someone for a few moments, and each one is so beautiful and painful and wonderful. It’s an ache in your chest when you think about that special person, a wish that, more than anything else in the world, they’re happy and safe, a longing, a want, a need to hold onto them through both the smiles and the tears. It’s enduring those hard times, weathering through the fights and stormy times that are bound to happen after the movie closes, and still choosing that person over and over again. At its core, love is a never-ending journey of learning to be with someone and a choice, sometimes painful and hard, to continue loving that someone day after day.
Pei’s Question: Labels play an integral role in Felix’s journey of self discovery. Did labels play a role in your self discovery and how?
Short answer? Yes and no.
Names have power. Titles have power. And seeing a word and realizing “Ah, this is who I am” can be a gear-shifting, puzzling-clicking moment where the world seems to grab you by the hand and says, “Welcome. We’ve been waiting for you.”–even if it doesn’t play out quite as smoothly in reality. It’s giving life to something that only existed as a squirmy amorphous idea in your head, which is a kind of exhilarating magic and one I think most of us have experienced at some point with other defining labels, not just gender and sexuality. So I fully understand why it’s important for people to find that perfect term they can point to as their own, especially when you’re young and figuring things out. And it was definitely important for me to realize, oh, bisexual is something that I might be.
At the same time, though, there’s something maddeningly constricting about labels. A feeling that I have to live up to the specifics of one. Like, okay, I’ve finally found this word, so now how do I keep it? If I’m bisexual, what bisexual quotas do I need to fulfill every month, and what thoughts and actions are considered un-bisexual, or bisexual-adjacent but not quite in the ballpark of bisexuality? What do I fall back on if I find out that I’m not, after all, bisexual? And all of that drove me crazy. General society has lent us a habit of drawing lines in the sand, but I’ve come to think of my sexuality and gender perception as fluid, changing with different stages of my life and new experiences and environments, and containing them into one super-specific label didn’t feel right for me.
So “queer” became my preferred term because it’s a delightfully broad umbrella and still a label but not fully. It conjures an image of an interdimensional hopper who flits from one corner of the rainbow multiverse to the next, never settling on one thing. And that ambiguity, and the absence of rigidity, is a source of comfort for me. It gives me the freedom to just be without overanalyzing and second-guessing myself, and serves as a reminder that sometimes my identity is a big fat question mark and that’s okay.
And that’s a wrap! Thanks for reading and we hope to see you around. Remember to stay hydrated and wear a mask when you go out. Hoping for a good week for all of you. As always, feel free to reach out to me on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads)!