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Sex Changes: A Memoir of Marriage, Gender, and Moving On Hardcover – November 13, 2012
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“Christine Benvenuto's Sex Changes is a long overdue book: the story of her experience with her husband's gender transition is complex and questioning, and always honest. It suggests how deeply transformative recovering from the loss of a marriage can be.” ―Helen Boyd, author of She's Not the Man I Married
“Christine Benvenuto pulls us into the eddies of heartbreak, confusion, anger, and epiphany that swirl in the wake of her shattered marriage. Benvenuto, like the best of memoirists, has that clear, true voice that transforms her story into my story -- the details are different, but not the emotions. And as she makes her way through uncharted waters, discovering unseen facets of herself, I, too, make discoveries about myself. This is the power of storytelling at its best.” ―Sally Ryder Brady, author of A Box of Darkness: The Story of a Marriage
“A refreshingly gutsy narrative that offers a compelling view of sexual maturity and a sexual coming-of-age at midlife.” ―Kirkus
About the Author
CHRISTINE BENVENUTO is the author of Shiksa, as well as fiction, essays, and reviews that have appeared in many publications, including The Village Voice, the San Francisco Chronicle, Tikkun and Moment. She lives in western Massachusetts.
Top customer reviews
So, in the campaign to censor the book, spousal abuse is either completely denied or praised as necessary and good. It's the new political. And if that sounds a whole lot like the old political, to anyone who has been a woman for more than 10 seconds, it is. Misogyny demands: protect the abuser-- and frame the bully as the victim, because anything else is now--transphobia. And I mean anything--"and" "the" could be transphobic language. Well there are practical considerations the ex-husband has a public persona built on being brave, noble, and in constant danger of OMG being raped. Really people this takes the cake. I can't help but see a cigar-smoking tyrant, dispatching the team of dogs on his run away wife. And that's why I'm heartened to see and hear that so many women across the country have slated "Sex Changes" for book groups. And it's on syllabi for college classes. Students will be covering why in 2012 are abused women being censored, denied language, a voice, and a narrative simply at the behest someone who spent over 40 years as a white male. A good question to ask is how can academics call for the book to be banned? Not all that surprising the utter arrogance, and answer, when questioned--they admitted, they had not even read the book. One wonders how much they have not read. Read the book--worth every penny.
Half of marriages end in divorces so chances are that readers have either firsthand or secondhand experience with two people who used to be ostensibly in love, but who are now duking it out. The author's spouse, Joy Ladin, wrote her own book about her transition, focusing on her Judaism and the spiritual crises she went through. Author Benvenuto is more focused on her financial crisis and placing a huge proportion of blame for the failure of the marriage on her spouse. Her inner dialogue is what "he" did to her. Her dogged use of the male pronoun reveals her inability to mend the marriage.
The details of the book document her observations of her spouse, Joy, as the author, almost like an anthropologist studying a tribe, or a parent watching a teenager go through adolescence, but without any emotional attachment. But therein lies the genius of this book in that we see the struggles Joy is facing in navigating her way into adult womanhood without the support most people have.
Why I do not give it five stars is because it is very thin on understanding of a mate's struggle. Even if the married couple decided to part, there might have been some lessons learned and personal growth. But there is little that I saw. Reading Ladin's account and hers was like watching the film, "Rashomon," which leaves the reader wondering if we're even talking about the same events.