I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
This volume introduces Nitori Shuichi (original Japanese name order – family name first), a shy child who was born a boy but secretly dreams about being a girl. We also meet Takatsuki Yoshino, who secretly dresses as a boy and takes a train to places where no one thinks of her as a girl. And we meet Chiba Saori, a girl who wants to be a Christian and has been encouraging Shuichi's desire to dress as a girl (most of the characters refer to each other by their family names, but I'm going to try to stick with their given names to avoid confusion later on). Saori convinces the class to put on a play where girls dress as boys and boys dress as girls, so that Shuichi can dress as a girl without anyone thinking anything of it.
So far, this is a very spare, gentle, and awkward story. The primary reason I was on edge was because of what could happen. At any moment, characters' secret desires might be revealed to everyone. I felt bad for Yoshino, who was made fun of for having her first period, and Shuichi, who wanted so badly to have long hair and wear pretty dresses.
I checked this series out during my vacation because it had gotten a lot of buzz, and I wanted to finally see what it was like. Which maybe meant that my expectations were a little too high. It's a nice story, but not overwhelmingly awesome. However, considering how many manga series treat cross-dressing as a joke, and how few transgender characters there are who aren't played for laughs, Wandering Son definitely stands out.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)