RAISING RYLAND

OUR STORY OF PARENTING A TRANSGENDER CHILD WITH NO STRINGS ATTACHED

An uplifting testimonial to the power of unconditional familial love and acceptance.

A new family must regroup after their toddler exhibits gender ambivalence.

Whittington, a mother of two, poignantly chronicles the transformative journey of Ryland, her young son who was born female. On his first birthday, the author’s son was diagnosed as deaf. A year later, the child received cochlear implants to enable hearing and speech capability. Then, after expressing tomboy inclinations and masculine bathroom traits, he tearfully announced, “I’m a boy.” Initially distressed, the family viewed the issue as much more than just a toddler phase and slowly began adapting to the fact that their daughter truly identified as a boy in every way. When their second daughter, Brynley, was born, they came to terms with their transgendered son. Both the author and her husband struggled with the critical next steps in Ryland’s upbringing, his gender identity, and childhood development, while their greatest “fears came from how the world would view our child.” The road was arduous, yet it began with a simple haircut and proper pronoun use. Amid the years of “private turmoil” and Ryland’s many expected (and unexpected) challenges with school and societal rejection, the Whittingtons proactively educated themselves, posted videos online, and emerged as a consistently supportive and nurturing unit. Sensitively handled and written in breezy prose that doesn’t linger too long on the expository details of their ordeal, the author sets a fine example for other parents either imagining or personally experiencing a similar situation. Believing their joint understanding and acceptance of Ryland will result in a blissful childhood, the Whittingtons have truly afforded their son the opportunity to “grow up with the chance to cultivate the same self-love and confidence to which every child has the right when he or she is born.”

An uplifting testimonial to the power of unconditional familial love and acceptance.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-238888-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

NIGHT

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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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