Man o’ War | REVIEW

Review: Man o' War by Cory McCarthy AceOfBens.com

🪼 It's easy to realize you're not happy, but it's much harder to figure out how to fix that. 🪼

 

I listened Cory McCarthy’s Man O’ War, narrated by E.R. Fightmaster, in one sitting. After not having read much at all for over a year, I quickly and happily sank into River’s world and their all too familiar coming of age story that transgender teens go through. Although no two experiences are the same, the emotion, the worries, the euphoria, and everything in between is nearly universal, and McCarthy writes it so well.

Man o’ War follows River McIntyre over a few years as they discover who exactly they are and who they want to become. Naturally, it’s complicated. Even further complicated by the fact that discovering yourself means you have to figure out how to navigate being true to yourself in spaces where people are too busy projecting their own inner world onto you to perceive you the way you view yourself.

River is a swimmer, an Arab American, a transgender teen, and someone just trying to exist without making waves. Well, leaping into a shark tank to escape a painfully awkward conversation you already know you’ll be playing in your head before bed for years to come certainly made a lot of waves. But they’re trying to minimize it! All while still keeping everything and everyone they love in their life. It’s a hell of a balancing act, and Man o’ War is a hell of a book that I hope you all consider picking up.

An achingly honest and frequently hilarious coming-of-age novel about an Arab American trans swimmer fighting to keep their head above water in a landlocked Midwestern town.

River McIntyre has grown up down the street from Sea Planet, an infamous marine life theme park slowly going out of business in small-town Ohio. When a chance encounter with a happy, healthy queer person on the annual field trip lands River literally in the shark tank, they must admit the truth: they don’t know who they are—only what they’ve been told to be. This sets off a wrenching journey of self-discovery, from internalized homophobia and gender dysphoria, through layers of coming out, affirmation surgery, and true freakin’ love.

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