Monday, July 14, 2014

Stuck In The Middle With You by Jennifer Finney Boylan

I should get ye ole disclaimer out of the way by stating that I got a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. And an honest review you'll get. I adored this book! Everything about it. It's subtitled "A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders" and that's about right. It's Jennifer Finney Boylan's story of raising her two boys while transitioning as a trasgendered person from male to female. More than that though, it's the story of a family and all of the ups and downs that any family faces and I just fell in love with this family reading this book.

Boylan doesn't go much into the actual process of transitioning in this book. For those interested in that, you can read her other memoir, She's Not There, which I've not read, but is at the top of my list now as I've fallen in love with her writing style. Instead, this is a book that focuses on the dynamics of her family. On her struggles with how she identifies herself within the family, no longer a dad, yet not the woman who birthed her children. Not completely their mother. Her two boys come to lovingly call her "Maddy", a mashup of mommy and daddy.

It recounts her relationship with her wife and the way they grow together. It recounts her own relationship with her own parents and several of those scenes brought tears to my eyes. It's not just a memoir of raising her own children, but also a memoir of her relationship with her own parents and I related so much to those moments. She had a wonderful relationship with her mother and I'm lucky enough to have a mom who has accepted me being a bit different from the norm as much as Jenny's mom accepted her being different from the norm.

One thing that Jenny herself acknowledges in the book is that she has been lucky. Not all transgendered people have the amazing support that she has had. Her wife stayed with her, her kids accepted her unconditionally, her community supports her. But in that acceptance, we're allowed a glimpse at a world that is moving in a good direction, I'd like to think. I love that someone CAN have that experience. It saddens me that there are people who don't have that experience. Who are abused and rejected just because of who they are.

Thank god for Boylan. She's given us a beautiful memoir of family here with lots of interesting commentary on gender as well that truly touched my heart. Along the way, she has "timeouts" where she has interviews with other authors, playwrights, activists, etc such as Augusten Burroughs, Richard Russo, Ann Beattie and many more. I really couldn't have asked for more with this book and I hope it finds it's way on many other shelves.


Debi said...

Oh, I want to read this soooo badly!!! I trust this will end up on the next installment of my list??? :D

Anonymous said...

I LOVED this book. I thought it was just wonderful. I haven't finished She's Not There yet, but so far I think I like Stuck in the Middle with You better. It's got more of her gorgeous writing style on display, I think. My favorite thing is when she asks her grandmother what makes a woman, and her grandmother says "Suffering."

Anonymous said...

I confess to having a slight bias against memoirs, but I recently read one, Sweet Tooth, that I also got as an ARC which I thoroughly enjoyed. There was not great writing, no sense of this is a good piece of literature, but I had very good time reading it.

May be the start of a trend.

Lu @ Regular Rumination said...

I absolutely adored this one and I can't wait to read her other books, since this one was just so good.

Vasilly said...

I was just thinking about you, Chris. I hope everything's okay and you're doing well. I know work can be crazy but I hope you've squeezed in some time to relax and enjoy life. *hugs*