Made That Way

Susan Ketchen - Bio and Media
pb / 2010-12 / Young Adult Fiction /
978-088982-254-2 / 176pp / $12.95

In this sequel to Born That Way, Sylvia, fourteen, is now taking medication for Turner Syndrome, the genetic disorder with the missing X chromosome. Without treatment, Sylvia will remain short, undeveloped and infertile, and the object of ongoing teasing at school. Unfortunately Sylvia experiences serious side-effects to her medication and grapples with what it means to become “normal”. If the hornless unicorn she dreams about is still very much a unicorn, then is Sylvia still a young woman when she has no ovaries?

Against her wishes, Grandpa has shipped Sylvia her first pony, who also turns out to not be normal, or at least not normal for a horse. He bugles instead of whinnying, and there’s something odd about his ears. Brooklyn is a hinny, a hybrid offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. Hinnies are also missing a chromosome, unusually short and sterile. But no one talks about a “hinny disorder”. Sylvia wonders if it is possible that she isn’t “disordered” either. Could she be a hybrid? And how bad would that be, given what they said at the car dealership about hybrids being the way of the future?

Determined to take charge of her life, Sylvia first gains mastery over her lucid dreams. She challenges her unicorn spirit guide, she directs him, and eventually no longer needs him. Strength flows into her “real life” where, without being reckless or a bully, she stands up to her parents, she stands up to her tormentors at school, she even stands up to her hero Kansas.

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Book reviews:
Made That Way reviewed in The Globe and Mail
Made That Way reviewed in Horse Family Magazine