"Jodie Patterson is the mother of five children, including her ten-year-old transgender son Penelope, the catalyst for the author's reexamination of identity within her own dynamic household--and the wider world. This inspiring and highly personal debut memoir goes on to examine Jodie's extended families' African American experiences with racism and civil rights, and her own coming of age in New York City in the 1970s and 80s, and later on as a wife, mother, and activist. With a novelist's sense of artful structure and pacing, Jodie turns her lens on a range of subjects--from the women who raised her and provided strength and comfort, all the while going against cultural norms and gender expectations, to her own children, who acted as a vehicle for Jodie's own growth and ultimately her acceptance of her very diverse family. The result is an exquisite study in transformation, identity, courage, and love"--
Beautifully written and beautifully lived. She doesn't brush off Penelope, but instead researches and lives and teaches the best way she can. A wonderful book for anyone, but I think this book is a fantastic example of how a parent can support their child (especially when they are very young) when they come out as transgender. An inspiration.
I struggled with the first half of the book, Jodie's childhood and early adulthood, because it felt like it had nothing to do with the reason I picked up the book, to learn about a mother's experiences with a transgender child. Once the book moved into Penelope and his life and how Jodie deals with that, it became much more engaging. I did find the discussions of how being a transgender parent and advocate was frowned upon by the black community quite interesting. It exposed me to a different aspect of black culture than I'd read about before.
I received this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.
Jodie Patterson and older sister Ramona raised by a tough, smart and successful business owner father and a bright, beautiful mother; were encouraged, educated, and given opportunities many people don't get. Brought up to believe in themselves, their capabilities, their freedom to choose their paths in life. John Patterson had to be resilient and vigorous to succeed so he instilled these qualities in his daughters.
This book is about Jodie's life choices, her motivation to achieve and accomplish top notch goals through hard work at good jobs, and the amazing drive to be the best mother to her children. As most women know: this is not easily done. But Jodie is a perfectionist, doing so much for family, and for the folks she works for, always trying to live in the moment, and to the fullest. She doesn't want to let her mother, grandmother, great grandmother or her father down.
It should not be surprising how well she handles a unique challenge to her family; pushing to learn and implement the best approach. But... loving, well-intentioned Jodie pushes herself and her family too hard. She needs to stop and re-group.
Read this winner of a book to learn how Jodie maneuvers through rough waters to get her family safely across.
While this book began a little slow for me, it picked up very quickly. Although I am not a woman of color, I could empathize with Patterson's struggle to be everything to everybody. As a woman, I often feel like I need to be perfect my professional life and personal life and I cannot fall short or else I am a failure. Patterson's story is the feeling times 100, as she is trying to have a satisfying professional career (which involves many failures and successes) and raise 5 children (one of whom announces very early in his life that he is transgender) and sustain a loving relationship with her husband (who half-jokes that he is "at the bottom of the list).
I appreciated Patterson's honesty that doing all of these is exhausting and frankly, not sustainable as is shown in one of the saddest parts of the memoir. I appreciate that she talks about feeling like you can conquer the world in one moment but that you completely emotionally fall apart in the next.
Patterson's writing is excellent. I felt like I was immersed in her world, and never felt like I was being talked down to, even though I am not as informed of the experiences of women of color as I'd like to be. I was always compelled to keep reading to see where her journey took her. I will update this post in a few days, as I am only 3/4 of the way through (but my review was due today!).