From Publishers Weekly
A blend of essay, memoir and intergenerational dialogue, this title is stranger-and smarter-than the average transsexual memoir. Link narrates his transition from female to male over the first 200 pages, interspersed with his views on everything from taxonomy to the difference between L.A. and Nebraska. His writing is hilarious, thoughtful and often poetic, but also frequently challenging. Discussing the general-knowledge concept that transsexuals feel "trapped" in their bodies, he points out that "If I'd dealt with my discomfort by getting rid of my body, I would now be dead." He deftly avoids gender stereotypes at the same time he demonstrates the new chance at life his transformation has given him. Link's mom, Raz, takes over for the next 100 pages, reflecting on her part in her daughter's transformation, her feelings and how they've changed, and her eventual acceptance of the son Link became. Even without the narrative hijacking two-thirds through, Link and Raz's book is a weird one; Link's looping narrative and lectures about gender theory see to that. The last 100 pages turn the book into a dialogue on any number of topics, including feminism, politics and, of course, the bonds of family. The result is oddly moving, more illuminating and memorable than a straightforward memoir could have been.
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Scientist Link begins his fascinating account of gender reassignment by explaining scientific classification based on visible characteristics, behavior, and genetics. Genes, he says, combine in humans in ways that sometimes make gender identity tricky. The ensuing story of his sex change is told from his poet mother's perspective as well as his own. Born ostensibly female, Sarah felt male, changed her name to Aaron, took testosterone injections, and survived life-threatening complications from a hysterectomy before undergoing a surgical sex change at 30. Raz writes of her child with rare and moving candor: "I'd given him a library card, braces, orthopedic shoes, glasses, but not what he needed, a sex change . . . now I felt useless in his life . . . I missed Sarah." Mother and son's poignant account becomes one of steadfast maternal love in the midst of changes only partly physical. Both knowingly return, always, to the terrain of the heart. As Link says, "If you want to survive, you must find a way to love what you are." Whitney ScottCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved