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Dear Mom and Dad


A compassionate portrait of self-acceptance and gender identity.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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McGowen’s debut memoir traces the dual-gendered writer’s gradual realization that two singular souls, George and Georgia, “just happen to coexist” in the same body.

From a young age, George McGowen could sense, though not articulate, a split in his consciousness. Like other boys, he idolized Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger, but he also felt more comfortable hanging out with girls. As an adult, George now knows he is dual-gendered—meaning he shares “a combined life” and body with a woman named Georgia. In an inspired twist, Georgia narrates the story of George’s life, often adding her colorful commentary to incidents such as little George’s first recognizing, with “a mix of his amazement and my jealousy,” that his anatomy differed from girls’. “There’s only one of me,” Georgia says. “I just happen to coexist in a male body with an equally singular man.” Though Georgia occasionally emerged during George’s childhood and adolescence—secretly dressing in his mother’s clothes as a kid, donning drag during his college fraternity’s skit night—George for the most part lived a buttoned-up Protestant life under controlling, conservative parents. After flunking out of college, George married a woman he impregnated, giving way to 12 tumultuous years that ended in a long-winded divorce. Soon thereafter, he met the love of his life, Marilyn Simms. Together, they indulged in copious amounts of cocaine and booze, which unlocked the dormant Georgia from George’s subconscious. Georgia terrified many of George’s friends, including Marilyn and George’s eventual AA sponsor, who encouraged him to ward off his impulses with a mantra of “Get thee behind me Satan.” McGowen’s book gracefully weaves together these stories of reconciliation: between George and Georgia; among George, Georgia, and Marilyn; and between McGowen and her Christian faith. Georgia’s road to acceptance takes compelling detours into everything from mourning a loved one to caring for a partner with manic depression. Though the book is engaging, it is stretched out due to a weakness for unnecessary detail: “The remainder of 1978 was reasonably uneventful. From the notes in his Daytimer, it appears that he and the kids flew to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving.”

A compassionate portrait of self-acceptance and gender identity.

Pub Date: July 6, 2012


Page Count: 272

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015


If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


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

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