Genuinely insightful through and through—a must-read for anyone interested in the trans experience.

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU

A MEMOIR OF PARENTING IN THREE GENDERS

The warm, engaging memoir about how a transsexual woman and her family came to terms with her transition from male to female.

Best-selling author Boylan (English/Colby Coll.; I'm Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted, 2008, etc.) started out life as a boy named James. She began cross-dressing as a young teen and kept her struggles with gender identity a secret throughout her adolescence and young adulthood. As James, Boylan believed that if a woman could love her deeply enough, she "would be content to stay a man." She eventually did marry and became the father of two boys. But when Boylan turned 40, she knew that she had to make "the thing [she] felt on the inside visible” to the world and decided to undergo the painful process of gender transition. Remarkably, the woman she married decided to stay rather than seek "the love of some nice man," and her two sons accepted her as their parent with little difficulty. Boylan knew that she and her family had been "very lucky" to be able to maintain strong, loving relationships with each other throughout her strange and difficult journey. The more she embraced her new identity and life, however, the more she found herself questioning received notions of mother- and fatherhood. In an effort to broaden her understanding of these and related issues, Boylan talked to fellow writers (including Augusten Burroughs, Edward Albee and Ann Beattie), former students and others from across the straight-trans-gay spectrum about their experiences with marriage, family and parenting; she includes these interviews in what she calls "Time Outs" from her memoir. This informal investigation and her touchingly funny and always candid story work together to reveal the book's ultimate truth: that "to accept the wondrous scope of gender is to affirm the vast potential of life in all its messy, unfathomable beauty.”

Genuinely insightful through and through—a must-read for anyone interested in the trans experience.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0767921763

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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