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She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders Hardcover – July 29, 2003
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Boylan, English professor and author of the critically acclaimed novels The Constellations (1994), The Planets (1991), and Getting In (1998), began life as a male named James Boylan. In this autobiography, she details her lifelong struggle with her burgeoning femaleness and the path she followed to become a female, both physically and mentally. For 40 years, the author lived as a man, seemingly happy and even marrying a woman and fathering two children. At a certain point, though, she realized that she couldn't suppress her desire to live as a female and so eventually went through all the steps to become female, including sexual reassignment surgery. There is something troubling about Boylan's lighthearted tone, and while she hints at it, there is no really clear depiction of the havoc this transition must have wreaked on her married life (Boylan's wife was clearly devastated) and on her children (who at times refer to her as boygirl or maddy). But Boylan's well-written and informative book is a worthy contribution to the body of work on this subject. Kathleen Hughes
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"Beautifully crafted, fearless, painfully honest, inspiring and extremely witty. Jennifer Finney Boylan is an exquisite writer with a fascinating story and this combination has resulted in one of the most remarkable, moving and unforgettable memoirs in recent history."
---Augusten Burroughs, author of Running With Scissors
"In addition to being a complete delight, this book should make us all question what we mean when we use the words love, marriage, and friendship. Jennifer Finney Boylan is a great gift to womanhood."
--Haven Kimmel, author of A Girl Named Zippy
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Top Customer Reviews
Some people might criticize the relatively light tone she takes with some of the darker issues she had to face (like a disapproving sister) but after reading so many doom and gloom tales that over emphasize that side, this was a breath of fresh air.
As someone like Ms. Boylan who is going through transition as a family (with some differences in terms of family dynamics) I can say that the emotions she writes about, her and of those around her, if lightened up, are real. Her spouse deals with this differently then many spouses would, for sure, but the pain and the hurt expressed is true in my experience. Likewise, the uncertainty of people around a transitioning person is portrayed very well here, especially in the relationship with her friend Richard Russo. I am glad that Jenny made the point that not only is the person transitioning, so are the people around them.
I also would like to comment on some of the other reviews, who imply that Jenny "glossed over" the pain of her family, or implied she was some sort of typical middle age man just "doing his own thing". I suspect if she glossed over the raw emotions it was to protect her family and their privacy, not about trivializing them. As far as this being some sort of middle age crisis and a 'choice', forget it. As someone who is there, I can tell you it is no choice when someone transititions at this age (or later), by then it is do this or perish as a person.
I recommend this book to all readers, no matter of who they are. It is well written, and I think it serves as a gentle and informative (though not complete) portrayal of a complex subject and of someone finally becoming themselves.
Both Jennifer and Grace are brutally honest in how they feel; at times I found their honesty almost too painful to read.
But shouldn't everyone have a friend like Richard Russo! What a supportive and thoroughly caring person he is. Boylan's best friend, he writes a warm and loving afterward to this story.
She delves deeply into the psychological impact on co-workers on her complex long-held secret. I admired her wit and irreverence in the face of this life altering decision. This is quite a book! And as her grandmother wisely said, "Love Will Prevail". Indeed it did. Of course, there are many transgenders that don't have happy endings to their journeys, we must take that into consideration. But I do believe that if you are in the process, tortured by a life of hiding a secret, this book is worth reading. I am a heterosexual senior, and it opened my eyes!
Perhaps what makes this one of the best books on the subject is her uncanny sense of wit and juxtaposition of her histories.
Because of this book, I have pre-ordered her next fictional novel, due out in April.
Boylan presents her life story with sensitivity, warmth and humor making it a very good read. I recommend this book for its entertainment value and the opportunity it presents to educate the reader about this little known condition.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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