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Becoming Clissine by Anastasia Vitsky

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Becoming Clissine by Anastasia Vitsky

Book Info

Book Series
About the Author
Cookie queen, wooden spoon lady, and champion of carbs, Anastasia Vitsky specializes in F/F fiction. She hates shoes and is allergic to leather. When not writing about women who live spankily ever after, she coordinates reader and author events such as Spank or Treat, Love Spanks, and Sci Spanks. Her favorite event is Ana’s Advent Calendar, a month-long celebration of books, community, and making a difference.
She is too afraid to watch Doctor Who, but she adores The Good Wife and anything with Audrey Hepburn. In her next life, she will learn how to make the perfect pie crust. She can be found at and on twitter @AnastasiaVitsky.
Publication Date
October 20, 2013
This is a twist on the taboos placed on same-sex relationships within some religious cultures, including detailed punishment and some violence.
Betrothed at birth to the daughter of one of the most prominent Houses in the totalitarian theocracy of Bastia, soon-to-be-college-graduate Clissa isn’t sure whether she is ready to undergo the Mar. Once she becomes the Nur, or the submissive partner, to her betrothed she will have to submit all major decisions of her life to the beautiful Helaine, whom she has met once. She must marry a woman, according to the decrees of Bastian law.

Caught between a desire to “get along” and the growing awareness he is “het” and is attracted to Clissa, her childhood friend, Destral, kisses her one day as they study in their college library. Shocked at the feelings the kiss awakens, Clissa begins to question everything she has been taught. Did Basti, their deity, condemn relationships between a man and a woman? Will her growing feelings for Destral cost her everything her parents have worked hard to give her?

After a mad attempt to subvert Bastian authority, Clissa is assigned to new parents for “reeducation” in the doctrine of Bastia. Her new parents are given one mandate: bring her back to rightness with Basti.

Clissa, lost in a system threatened by her very identity, must make her choice. Will Bastian authority break her, or will she find a way to break free? Can true love overcome a harsh regime?

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Exceeded my expectations
I’ve been reading and reviewing Ms. Vitsky’s books for some time, and for no good reason, I’d never read this one. I wanted to read the new one set in this world, though, so I decided to finish the original first. I’ve read a few other “what if heterosexuality was illegal/abnormal” stories before, but I’ve always ended up disappointed because I don’t think they ever quite hit the mark. However, I was convinced going in that if anyone could take this on, it would be Ms. Vitsky. She exceeded my expectations and delivered an intense tale which digs underneath a surface examination of what might happen.

First of all, readers should give up on any expectation that this will be a forbidden love story. Although the main character, Clissa, does discover her true nature through a romantic encounter, that is not the point of the story. This is where previous books have failed—they’ve attempted put the relationship at the forefront rather than the society which creates such a situation. In Becoming Clissine, it isn’t Clissa on trial by the readers; it’s the world in which she lives. This is an important distinction.

Second, the world-building here is as precise and in-depth as in any good science fiction or fantasy. It’s woven expertly into the story, without large chunks of exposition. It’s clear the author knows and understands Clissa’s society. It did take me a while before I understood everything, but it makes sense in context as it unfolds. Everything is the perfect mirror of the way fundamentalist Christianity views roles within the home in our real world. What makes this so good is that it isn’t merely a substitution of genders. It’s a clear understanding of the beliefs underpinning fundamentalism’s rules for family governance rather than a flippant dismissal of those views as archaic.

Although this is a dark story, there are a few more lighthearted moments which anyone raised in our world’s version of this family structure will understand. One part in particular, which I won’t spoil here, involves a place much like a church nursery and a coloring book. Despite the heavy tone, I did have to laugh at the scene, having come across similar religious-based books myself.

Readers should beware that for those raised in a strict fundamentalist home, particularly by parents who used their religion in abusive ways, some material may be triggering. The same is true for those who have experienced anti-LGBT therapy of any type, particularly the harsh methods employed by residential settings.

In the tradition of good feminist dystopian literature, this is a must-read for anyone who has difficulty grasping why we need to keep our society from sliding back into one which not only tolerates but actively promotes such treatment of our members.

For hard truths, sensitive treatment of difficult subject matter, and a perfectly crafted warning, this gets 10 fountain pens.
Top 10 Reviewer 25 reviews
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