TEACHING THE CAT TO SIT by Michelle Theall


A Memoir
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A travel and fitness journalist’s account of her struggles to reconcile strong Catholic beliefs with both homosexuality and motherhood.

In a narrative that deftly moves between past and present, Theall tells the moving story of how she found self-acceptance as a lesbian mother of faith. The black sheep in a strict Roman Catholic household, she knew that “God had made [her] a girl,” but that didn’t stop her from arm-wrestling the boys in school and wishing that she could be like her Happy Days hero, the Fonz. Living in small-town Texas didn’t help matters. Neither did living near her best friend’s father, a man who raped her when she was 11. So when the family moved to Dallas, she was thrilled. But she was still an outsider, even in the big city. To escape the pain of being different, Theall joined the track team and bonded with a coach she later discovered was lesbian. She knew that Catholicism condemned all forms of homosexual love, but she also realized that the coach and her partner were “a refuge.” Despite the experience of a lesbian relationship in college, Theall remained conflicted about her sexual identity until she was nearly 30. Acceptance from her family, especially her mother, remained incomplete and came with great difficulty. But the greatest challenge would come later, after she had settled down with her partner to raise an adopted son. The same church that had caused her to feel so much shame tried to force her child out of the Catholic-run school due to her lesbianism. In the journey away from Catholicism and the need for maternal approval that followed, Theall eventually found peace. She also came to understand that the “raging love” between her and her mother was part of what made them “something more.”

A searingly honest memoir of faith, sexuality and motherhood.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4516-9729-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2014


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