Elegant, eloquent, and deeply personal.

A journalist and activist’s debut memoir about the fraught year preceding their decision to “correct my aberrated [gender] condition” and become a trans man.

Dunham knew from childhood that they were different. While their parents and friends “cherished me for being a little girl,” the author knew that they were “tricking” those people. Adolescence was an especially traumatic time. The author felt compelled to fit in with girls but also secretly desired them and dreamed of tying them up. Filled with self-loathing for being a “pervert,” Dunham deliberately tried to make their developing body disappear through starvation diets. As they grew into adulthood, they became increasingly aware of a misalignment between their body and their sense of who they were. This dysphoria created a “bodily claustrophobia” that made Dunham seek relief through painful relationships that never satisfied. The first was with a girl who told them that she wanted them to be “her best friend, her sister, her mother” but did not want them to be her lover. Another was with a lesbian woman who introduced Dunham to polyamory and an “existential dread” that wrought havoc with their sense of self. An especially intense relationship involved a bisexual woman who made Dunham feel that they were a “fiction” with no substance. Renewing acquaintance with a trans woman who had begun the journey toward physically manifesting femininity ultimately had the most profound effect on Dunham. That relationship forced them to not only confront the clearness of their existence and modes of desire. It also inspired Dunham to overcome a deep-seated fear of transforming their body to more closely match their complex inner identity. Candid and compassionate, this book offers a view of one person’s trans experience that defies categorization as much as it defies resolution.

Elegant, eloquent, and deeply personal.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-44496-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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