Housewife by Kristin Collier

Housewife

Home-remaking in a Transgender Marriage
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A woman grapples with a new reality after her husband comes out as a transwoman in this detailed debut memoir of marriage and transformation.

Collier was a happily wed mother leading a normal life with two children and a loving husband named Fred. When a fire ruined their home, Collier and her family were safe, but the tragedy seemed to mark an ominous beginning to an even bigger change: Fred confessed that he wanted to live life as a woman. Thrown into a spiral of doubt and fear, the couple struggled to find the tools they needed to survive. When one therapist believed Fred’s aspiration was merely an episode of past trauma that needed to be worked out, Collier was relieved, but it turned out not to be the case. Finally they discovered true help, and Collier’s spouse found her new name, Seda, and herself. But the author was distracted by the larger questions that such a transition imposed upon the couple: would they have sex? Was Collier now a lesbian? What had become of the husband she loved so dearly? As Seda evolved, Collier had to define her family anew, co-parenting and coming out as the wife of a transwoman. Eventually, the couple decided to physically separate, with Collier falling in love again. Despite these adventures, the author returned home to Seda, where they created a new definition of family upon the foundation of the love that they started with. Collier, a natural storyteller, delivers detailed dialogue and engrossing scenes, including “snapshots” of her memories over the years. While she explicitly wants to write a book for the partners of transwomen, the memoir threatens to capsize under its own self-centeredness in the face of Seda’s transition, which can be painful to read. There are moments of grace when Collier finds empathy (“Who was I to tell him how to live?” she wonders), but it takes several chapters for the author to embark on her own journey, which gives Seda enough space for hers. The chaos of watching these characters form a family again is all the more tender when others, such as Collier’s mother, express love for Seda. A glossary of terms and an offering of resources attempt to ground this memoir in service rather than exploration.

A complex transgender love story that mixes selfishness and compassion.

Publisher: Abbondanza Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:




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