I read this story because it was free and I’d read another by the author that I’d liked, if not as much as this one.
The description, via Goodreads:
Kediil wants only to remain neuter and learn the secrets of herbs from its beloved Mardin… but at its second puberty, it turns female, and is forced to decide between accepting its new roles among the family… or something unspeakable. Originally published in Strange Horizons, this story made the Tiptree Award’s Secondary List and was recommended for a Nebula Award.
Don’t let the shortness of this story fool you, it’s not a light read. In these few pages, the author manages to convey, without once resorting to infodumping, a completely alien culture — one that is alien enough to not be humans with funny foreheads, but not so alien as to be completely unrelatable — and tell a poignant and touching tale.
The language used to tell this story is beautiful and entrancing; I was particularly fond of this phrase; “Each of these incidents added a stone to my spirit.”
My sole complaint is that words were translated in the narrative, but reviews of my own work have made it quite clear to me that I’m in the minority in not liking that.
This is the second story I’ve read by this author. It won’t be the last.
I’ve read a few other short stories by the author since then and have liked them all, but this is still my favorite.