Chris Bohjalian is able to tackle the most complex and controversial issues in his books while still keeping the human element alive.
'Trans-Sister Radio' tells the story of Dana Stevens, a transsexual professor at a small Vermont college who is about to undergo gender reassignment surgery, and Allison Banks, the schoolteacher who falls in love with Dana as a man and must reevaluate the relationship after he becomes a woman. The news of their romance travels quickly in their small town and causes major upheaval in the lives of Allison, her 19-year-old daughter Carly, and her ex-husband Will, a public radio producer who runs a story on the couple.
The book not only deals with the physical and psychological issues that come with gender reassignment surgery, but also with society's ingrained notions of gender. Throughout the book, all four characters struggle with concepts of how males and females should act, think and feel.
The amazing thing about this book is that each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character, and each has a distinct and realistic voice. This gives the story more depth, as the reader is able to see events from multiple perspectives. The reader is able to understand what each character goes through and how their mindsets change from the beginning to the end of the story. The story is also occasionally interrupted by snippets of the transcript of the radio story about Dana and Allison's relationship, which adds yet another perspective to the mix.
While the subject matter in this book is very controversial and quite foreign to many readers, 'Trans-Sister Radio' reaches deep inside its characters to make the story both educational and relatable.