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on March 27, 2000
I have to echo previous complaints about the atrocious grammatical and spelling errors throughout this book as well as the overall poor and directionless writing. Most appalling, however, is the complete lack of understanding Jones shows when it comes to transgendered people and the queer community in general.
I was at a gathering of trans activists remembering Brandon a year after his murder at which Jones got up and spoke. Her entire speech was a self-promoting, buy-my-book ploy peppered with "she" and "Teena" references, with no acknowledgement whatsoever that Brandon was transgendered. One prominent trans activist, Leslie Feinberg, left the stage as Jones continued on, returning later to denounce Jones's lack of awareness.
After being present for this, I knew Jones's book was going to be very poorly done, but since it's the only book so far about Brandon, I decided to buy a used copy - so as to not give any of my money to Jones - to learn the facts of the case. To be honest, many of the details are still unclear to me because of the muddled way in which the book was written. If you really just want the details and don't mind wading through the terrible writing to get to it, I suggest you get this book at a used bookstore, through Amazon's auctions or Zshops, or at a library rather than to further line the pockets of someone who just doesn't get it.
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on July 1, 2000
I bought this book in a book store and it looked very interesting. The back of the book had a very tantalizing introduction. It gave me the impression that this was a book about someone who gave up their entire identity to become a man; of someone who went into complete seclusion never to look back on their past. The book itself wasn't nearly as interesting as the introduction on the back cover. For many reasons. The author devoted many chapters on people surrounding the crime (their upbringing and other details.) I wish the focus would have been solely on Brandon Tina. Also, in the end I was hoping to hear about what happened to the 2 killers. But it didn't discuss their sentencing. There was also a lot written about transgender activism and hate crimes. That is all well and good but it also took away from the story. I often found the book rather boring mainly because the author really didn't make me feel like she was "in the know." It read more like a newspaper article than a book. "'...everything was too good to be true.' Yes, it certainly was." Very ironic last 2 sentences given the fact that I only bought the book based on its sensational cover and introduction.
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on March 21, 2000
Aphrodite Jones relates Brandon's story in an extrordinarily trite and amateurish manner. This book sorely needs both copyediting and proofreading. Jones includes too many dull details of peripheral characters and events that do not propel the story forward. Also, there is an appalling number of spelling and grammatical errors. A reader should expect that the purchase price of a book includes the publisher having made the book readable and free of silly errors. The life and untimely death of Brandon Teena are fodder for a fascinating study of human nature. It's unfortunate that Jones did not exhibit any depth or insight whatsoever. This book is a huge disappointment on many levels.
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on August 18, 2000
I found this tragic and touching story of Brandon Teena very difficult to stop reading once I started. I found it equally difficult not to be distressed after reading it. Jones provides a wealth of information on the killings of Brandon, Philip Devine and Lisa Lambert and the individuals involved in their brutal murders. Although at times there seems to be almost too much information to process, Jones does a good job in tying all of the characters together and the events that lead to the murders.
Jones presents the material in a fairly objective manner by including the childhood troubles of both Brandon Teena and her attackers Nissen and Lotter. Brandon's conflict's evolved around her sexual identity crisis and her struggle to live her life as a male. Nissen came from an extremely dysfunctional family and Lotter suffered from neurological defects. Rather than just present the victim's side she challenges the reader to think about how society helps to produce vicious and cowardly killers like Lotter and Nissen and how we fail to protect defenseless people like Brandon. Much of the information includes subtle evidence on the lack of family support and understanding for both Brandon and her killers. As a parent I couldn't help but think that this tragedy could have been avoided . For example, when Brandon telephoned home after being abducted, brutalized and raped why in God's name didn't someone go and get her out of that environment! Lisa Lambert, basically a stranger, was the only person who tried to help her but paid the ultimate price for her kindness. In addition, Charles Laux, the sheriff at the time, had more than reasonable grounds to arrest the suspects after the rape and before they murdered Brandon a few days later. Unfortunately he chose to disregard Brandon's safety and failed to act. Part of his unprofessional and brutal interview/interrogation of Brandon is included in the book and demonstrates the sheer inhumanity of his response to Brandon's plight.
After reading this book, some will see it as a commentary on the hatred shown toward groups such as transgenders, of which Brandon Teena was a member. I chose to see it as a story of how we failed Brandon, a vulnerable soul, by not helping her along the way to wherever she was headed - as a male or a female. This story of Brandon's life and death can teach us much about how we live our lives, not as single individuals but as families and communities.
To help fill in the gaps you can obtain the 1998 documentary-Brandon Teena . It was worth the few extra dollars and shows that at least one of the police officers of Falls City was prepared to help Brandon but was prevented from doing so under the authority of Laux. The video, Boys Don't Cry, also provides insight into the loving, if not confused, person of Brandon Teena.
Find out about Brandon and help give her life the dignity it deserved but didn't get in her 21 short years.
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on April 2, 2015
I love this writers style she is one of the few that really put me in touch with her characters !
I like her style as a woman I seem to relate to them more maybe it's just me but I find
Something familiar in her writing always to all woman a understanding!
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on April 8, 2004
This book made me realize that even in this day and age, people still suffer for their sexual freedom. Aphrodite Jones does an excellent job portraying the feelings and thoughts of those involved. Jones also makes us see that Brandon Teena wasn't perfect, but no reason is good enough to brutalize and murder someone. This book makes me want to go see the movie!
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on March 30, 2000
The book is terrible. Terribly written and terribly edited, not to mention horribly researched. The book's subject is a fascinating and compelling one, but Aphrodite Jones can't make it worth my time to finish more than a few pages without wanting to scream in frustration.
I must admit that as an editor, I find countless typographical and grammatical errors in most of today's published works. But this book doesn't even seem to make an effort at being correct...one minute Teena's grandmother is called Francis, the next she's called Frances, the next she's called Francis again. Minor point, maybe, but still frustrating.
The movie, while it takes some liberties with the story, is still way better than this piece of garbage. Spend the money renting the movie instead!
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on April 2, 2015
I'm barely into this book and I'm already fed up with the misspelling! How does one get a book published and not have it edited first? It's difficult to get into the story as I am too busy re-reading the sentence to make sense of it. I would not recommend this book! Too many other authors to pick from who have their work edited first.
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on April 2, 2000
I thought this was an interesting story, since the subject is defenitely different from your average true crime offering. I'd say the book is one of those mass market sensationialistic types, adequately written insofar as it's easy to read, keeps your interest, and moves along quickly. But, in keeping with this genre, it unfortunately lacks depth. It pretty much reports the facts, without delving significantly into the characters' psyches or motivations. In fact, by the end of the book I had very little sense of who Teena Brandon was; the apparent contradictions in her character of being sensitive and caring to lovers vs. being self-serving, irresponsible, and unethical to everyone else (including society) went unexplained and unilluminated. I would have liked to understand her more, since the real point of this book is not so much the crime of her death (which is not very complicated and is swiftly accounted for) but rather the strangeness of her life.
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on July 31, 2015
I genuinely believe that individuals born as one gender on the outside but the opposite gender on the inside -- and who go through the emotional, physical and financial pain of "making it right" -- are deserving of the respect they want. I also despise the hate that boils in those who refuse to even learn about the issues, and perhaps question the purity of their own souls. That having been said, however, I believe that often the GLTB (or whatever the initials are...I always seem to get them transposed somehow) community often are their own worst enemies. I think most mainstream Americans would gradually begin to understand -- if not eventually accept -- this social phenomenon if it wasn't for the aggressively and often militant way in which this faction presents its viewpoints. No one, on EITHER side of the issue, wants to be force-fed an opposing view, and that old adage is especially true in this particular instance: You will always catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That's why Martin Luther King is still so revered (and remembered) and the Black Panthers and the KKK, for the most part, are not. I don't want to see heterosexuals making out in public any more than I want to see homosexuals doing it. It has much less to do with my personal opinion about their sexual orientation (though I do have an opinion on the subject) than it does with their personal integrity and their lack of consideration for others around them. If you are really, truly comfortable with who you are, you don't feel the need to shove it down everyone's throat...which is the single biggest problem I have, for example, with the whole frenzy surrounding Caitlin Jenner right now. Just shut up and live your life respecting others as you want them to respect you, and acceptance will come. Will it always be easy? No, of course not...nothing worth fighting for ever is. But it'll happen a lot faster if the requirement for tolerance and understanding goes both ways.
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