I’m going to keep this review short and sweet for a couple of reasons, the first being that the time for me to have said something detailed, thoughtful, and incisive about it would have been back in late April when I first finished it. That time has now long passed. The second reason being that I’m not sure I would have felt equal to it anyway! Lavery (who was still going by his unmarried name at the time of publication, having taking his wife’s name since then) is an unbelievably smart writer, sometimes too smart for me, to be honest.
This book is not a memoir, and though it’s about Lavery’s experience of being trans, it’s not in any way a recounting of that experience. This book is more about the experience of being trans itself, and Lavery processes that through musing on experiences in his life, classical literature, pop culture, and his spiritual history. There is A LOT of Bible in this book, more than I was expecting for sure, and more than I was comfortably able to handle (even in my most Catholic days, I never knew the Bible the way Lavery does). More than once, the writing gets so obtuse and experimental, I honestly wasn’t sure what he was saying. (People have seemed to enjoy the Mean Girls chapter, but for me that was the worst one. I legitimately do not understand what he was saying in it, and that is not a comfortable feeling for me.)
All that said, the parts that I did understand were sort of transcendent. Lavery writes with a painful honesty, and you can see him trying to work things out, but in way that draws parallels and uses words in ways that a lot of authors I imagine would envy. And his style, even at his most serious, is always his style. There’s a wry, wacky humor at Lavery’s core that never goes away (see the quote heading this review).
I highly recommend this one, just be prepared for potential confusion, and let yourself move on if you need to. Something great will be just around the corner if you can’t figure out what’s going on where you’re at. And if you read it and understand the Mean Girls stuff, please come back here and explain it to me. Thanks.