A multifaceted, rich, and moving exploration of the trans experience.

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ONCE A GIRL, ALWAYS A BOY

A FAMILY MEMOIR OF A TRANSGENDER JOURNEY

A Texan decides to have gender-affirming surgery in this memoir.

Jeremy Ivester was born as Emily in 1989. Growing up in Austin, he wanted to be one of the boys. He loved short haircuts, male clothes, and football, playing on teams where he held his own as the only one perceived to be a girl on the field. His idyllic tomboy existence was upended in middle school, where he was excluded by classmates as his gender nonconformity became more glaring in the midst of adolescent dating culture. He was further horrified when puberty gave him breasts and curves that felt decidedly unnatural. A decadelong process of self-discovery and self-adjustment ensued. Google searches helped Jeremy put the term “asexual” to his perennially misfiring dates and lack of interest in either sex. An MTV episode of True Life on gender-affirming surgery proved a revelation—maybe he could have the masculine body he dreamed of. After much exploration and equivocation—“I don’t necessarily feel like I’m a male….None of the pronouns feel right”—top surgery and hormones allowed Jeremy’s body to reflect his gender identity, and he experienced that quintessential rite of passage: chugging brews with male buddies, shirtless. (“I felt the sticky beer all over my chin and chest,” he recalls exuberantly.) His saga, penned by his mother, Jo Ivester, and based on interviews and Jeremy’s video diary of his transition, incorporates reminiscences in both their voices and those of his father, siblings, and in-laws. It’s not a traumatic coming-out story: Jeremy’s family and co-workers were generally supportive. But there is quieter drama as they all navigate uncharted emotional territory, with Jo feeling unspoken anguish that Jeremy has decided to forgo marriage and children and young Jeremy enduring the aching loneliness that many gender-nonconforming kids feel: “My throat hurt and my chest tightened, and I felt isolated and deserted as I thought about how long it had been since I’d hung out with my teammates like when we were little kids.” The result is a heartwarming story that anyone with a complicated life and identity can relate to.

A multifaceted, rich, and moving exploration of the trans experience.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-886-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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