Bold, raw, and courageous.

MY SISTER

HOW ONE SIBLING'S TRANSITION CHANGED US BOTH

An award-winning TV actress and her trans sister tell the story of how they learned to navigate the difficult, often troubled waters of gender transition.

A year after Selenis’ mother and father became foster parents, they took in—and later adopted—a child named Jose. Immediately, Selenis noticed he was different. As a baby, “his cry was desperate,” as though he was already “struggl[ing] with his existence.” In a three-part narrative that moves between Selenis and her adopted sibling, the pair offer an intimate, often moving account of their journey toward loving acceptance of each other. Part I deals with the years before that sibling's transition into Marizol. Using masculine pronouns and Marizol’s male deadname, Selenis recalls how Jose loved to play with hair and makeup. Despite Selenis’ support, he still faced pressure from his adopted family to conform to a masculine gender identity. Seeking answers and support from social media and elsewhere, Jose first identified as gay before coming out to Selenis. But a question she posed—“did [he] want to be a woman?”—catapulted Jose into the period of transition and self-acceptance, which the authors cover in parts II and III. Moving beyond the confines of his Bronx Latinx community, contact with other trans individuals proved liberating. However, transitioning into Marizol meant facing often painful, sometimes dangerous circumstances. In and out of Selenis’ life, Marizol turned to sex work to support herself and later experienced abuse at the hands of a sadistic boyfriend. Meanwhile, Selenis’ work as a TV actress (most notably on Orange Is the New Black) brought her into contact with trans actor and activist Laverne Cox, who helped her better understand Marizol’s struggles. Determined to help her sister, Selenis brought her sister to a New York LGBTQ center where Marizol could safely come into her own. Fiercely honest, this book not only chronicles a harrowing journey to self-acceptance; it also celebrates an interpersonal love that transcends the bounds of blood and family.<

Bold, raw, and courageous.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5417-6295-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Bold Type Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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