Review: Understanding Steve by M.C. Questgend

Review: Understanding Steve by M.C. QuestgendUnderstanding Steve by M.C. Questgend
on October 16, 2017
Pages: 105
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four-half-stars

Understanding Steve is a sad tale of true love and coping with the confusion of gender identity.

The death of someone close throws Chris' life into a tailspin of confusion and depression. Feeling alone he finds comfort in mutual friends, Henry and Laney, who try to help only to lead Chris on a new journey that he is not really prepared for. Chris and his friends build enough trust in each other and together they help him cope with his loss and more importantly get him past the confusion, by teaching him how his late friend lived his life.

This is not a typical erotic story, nor is it a romance novel. This is a serious story that deals with the search for hope and the consequences if hope is lost. There are passages that are more explicit than others that center around transgendered and homosexual preferences. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED FOR ADULT AUDIENCES ONLY!

“Understanding Steve” looks to do several things in its relatively short length, but the fact that this story exists at all is encouraging.  More authors in the tg/feminization space have begun to take the subject matter more seriously, discontent with simply telling an arousing tale.  The trend of capturing some piece of the transgender or cross-dressing lifestyles is a welcome one, and “Understanding Steve” may be the most poignantly emotional of many I’ve read, but still manages to weave in some sexual thrill along the way.

The ‘Steve’ of the story is a lifelong friend to the protagonist, Chris, both of them in their late youth to middle age, both with a broken marriage under their belts.  When Steve comes to visit Chris to lick his wounds over the loss of his wife, Chris is eager to help his friend through the same trauma Steve helped Chris through years before.  Their meeting is short-lived as Steve commits suicide, leaving Chris behind to find answers to the riddle of Steve’s depression.

What follows is a journey of discovery, both of Steve’s life and hidden needs, and for Chris, who finds that gender norms and self-actualization can be a winding and lonely road.  Fortunately, Chris has accomplices in the form of Laney and Rita (or Henry, depending on her mode of dress), who help ease Chris into empathy if not full understanding of his friend’s life and struggles.  Along the way, there are some steamy and fun times to be certain, but the emotional core of the story is both much-needed and deceptively simple – we all seek our own happiness and it is often the judgement of the world around us that steals from us the happiness that brings.  And, a few well-timed and well-placed friends can get you through.

For its grim setup, there is a heavy dose of optimism to be found in these pages, and my one complaint is that some spelling errors and a missing word or two might have needed a more careful edit, but these are minor quibbles, especially when the story itself is so rich.  M.C. Questgend often traffics in these kinds of stories, by which I mean those with a deceptive message buried within, and this may be the most overt messaging of any of Questgend’s stories.  “Understanding Steve” is a great read, not only for the more exciting transformational portions, but for a message of hope and inclusion, and we could all use a bit more of that these days…

four-half-stars

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