Review of Conversations with People Who Hate Me, by Dylan Marron

Conversations with People Who Hate Me

12 Things I Learned from Talking to Internet Strangers

by Dylan Marron

Atria Books, 2022. 257 pages.
Review written June 15, 2022, from a library book
Starred Review

I am so impressed with this book and so inspired by it.

As it happens, the morning before I picked this up, my pastor had preached about empathy. He said that when we interact with people we disagree with on the internet, we tend to look at them at a distance, through binoculars, focusing on our broad differences. But empathy comes close and sees people as individuals, in all their humanity and particularities.

The amazing thing Dylan Marron has done is achieved empathy even on the internet.

I was excited about this book because I enjoyed Dylan’s videos for Seriously.TV a few years ago. He’s a gay person of color, and made wonderful points from a progressive perspective, and I was onboard and cheering for his side of the debate.

But he, amazingly, brought things beyond debate to empathy. As you may guess, the videos that I liked so much had plenty of people who felt the opposite and told him so in no uncertain terms. But Dylan explains in this book that since the videos were posted on Facebook, he was able to look at the commenters’ Facebook pages and find out these were humans saying harsh things, not monsters.

And that started a project that became a podcast, “Conversations with People Who Hate Me.” He found detractors who said harsh things (though ruled out the death threats) and engaged them in conversation. Found out about who they were as people. It wasn’t about debate, but was about empathy, about seeing people with different opinions as humans worthy of respect.

Dylan tells that story in his book, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. I’m not sure I could do it. Dylan does point out that he’s coming from a place of privilege, and some people are so abused, it’s too much emotional work to try to have empathy for their abusers. But I’m coming from a place of privilege, too, and I simply have a hard time looking past opinions I think are despicable. I easily forget that they are humans who hold those opinions for reasons. And Dylan Marron inspired me to try, showed me that it’s not impossible, and has given me an amazing example of human kindness.

He didn’t necessarily change minds with these conversations. And that wasn’t the point. But he did achieve the goal of the participants in the conversations seeing each other as fellow humans, and not as enemies.

The book does outline lessons he learned and things he noticed along the way. There are many obstacles to finding empathy, and he didn’t always make it past those obstacles. But there’s so much beauty in the attempt.

It all goes back to what my pastor talked about — empathy. One of the lessons that Dylan learned is that empathy is not endorsement. He still disagrees with many of the people he interacted with. But he sees them and knows human details about them and thinks of them as friends. And that’s amazing to me — and I want to learn to do it myself.

In his last chapter, he discusses how “snowflakes” make a good metaphor for his guests, in all their unique individuality.

And just as snowflakes are breathtakingly beautiful up close, my guests are breathtakingly beautiful up close, too. From the moment they first say “Hello” I am able to appreciate them as individuals and it is at this close range — voice to voice — that it becomes clear that they aren’t my enemies at all, no matter how vehemently we may disagree. Hearing Josh’s laugh, or Frank’s accent, or learning the tiny detail that E was applying for jobs around the time of our call, allowed me to see them as human, and this opened the door for empathy. And as I walked through that door, my fear dissipated.

I highly recommend this book, partly for the reasons Dylan Marron writes in the final paragraph:

One conversation will not heal the world. Empathy alone will not cure what ails us. Inspiring words will not protect us from harm. But in an era when we feel increasingly isolated, when we speak to each other on platforms that divide us by rewarding competition over connection, conversation is a tiny, enormous, mundane, epic, boring, thrilling, simple, complex act of rebellion that builds a bridge where there wasn’t one before.

simonandschuster.com

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Review of The Heavenly Man, by Brother Yun with Paul Hattaway

The Heavenly Man

The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun

by Brother Yun
with Paul Hattaway

Kregel Publications, 2020. First published in the United Kingdom in 2002. 338 pages.
Review written May 28, 2022, from a library book
Starred Review

This book is the amazing true story of the life of Brother Yun, a pastor in the Chinese house church movement. The story of Brother Yun’s faith is full of miracles from start to finish. His family first accepted Christ when Yun was a child, after his mother received a vision and then his father was miraculously healed of cancer.

Brother Yun devoted his life to Christ when he was still young. One of the early miracles he experienced was when he prayed earnestly for a Bible, and one was then brought to him. The entire book testifies over and over to the great power of God.

After Brother Yun became a pastor, he was imprisoned in China three times. Each time, he was tortured horribly. At one point in prison, he followed the Holy Spirit’s guidance and miraculously went without food or water for 74 days.

And despite all the torture, all the difficulties, his passion for Jesus, commitment to tell about him, and determination not to betray his brothers and sisters all shine through. During his third time in prison, he experienced a miracle like Peter’s as the doors of the prison were standing open and he walked right past the guards to escape, with his broken legs cured as he walked away.

Brother Yun’s story is told in his own voice, with interludes from his wife, telling how things were for his family when he was imprisoned. Both attest to miracle after miracle and God’s faithful care.

After the escape from prison, Brother Yun miraculously made his way to the West. He still preaches to those who haven’t heard, especially as part of the “Back to Jerusalem” movement, which plans to send millions of missionaries from China.

I was amazed that Chinese Christians don’t want people in the West to pray that their persecution will stop. Here’s one place where Brother Yun talks about this:

Don’t pray for persecution to stop! We shouldn’t pray for a lighter load to carry, but a stronger back to endure! Then the world will see that God is with us, empowering us to live in a way that reflects his love and power.

This is true freedom!

This book is riveting reading. As a western Christian reading it, of course I’m struck by how different my life is from Brother Yun’s. It’s a story of God’s power and the Lord’s amazing faithfulness. And amazing stories of how God is changing lives today.

The one thing I didn’t like was that, because this was originally published in 2002, that’s when the story ends. I am completely sure that Brother Yun did not stop following God twenty years ago, and I would like to know what happened next.

asiaharvest.org

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Review of Invisible Acts of Power, by Caroline Myss

Invisible Acts of Power

Channeling Grace in Your Everyday Life

by Caroline Myss

Atria (Simon and Schuster), 2004. 269 pages.
Review written April 26, 2022, from my own copy, purchased via Amazon.com
Starred Review

I read this book slowly, trying to absorb a small section each day. This is a book that works well for that.

The “Acts of Power” in this book are about personal power and grace to bless others. The author solicited stories from contributors, asking them to tell about times that other people had blessed them.

Here’s how she talks about those stories. You can hear how they touched her life — and they will touch her readers’ lives as well.

In the course of writing this book, I solicited stories from readers and subscribers to my Web site about their experiences with grace and life-changing acts of service. I was honored and overwhelmed to receive twelve hundred letters within six days of making my request. I discovered that it is one thing to talk abstractly about human goodness and our potential to be kind, but it’s quite another to come into direct contact wwith hundreds of real stories of real people exercising their power to heal, to help each other, to make a difference. I felt saturated in the caring and warmth of being human that these stories convey. They are solid evidence that the great power of compassion, honor, and grace still exists, even in the middle of national and world crises. They also prove that we are not alone in this world and that even in the direst times, our prayers are heard and answered.

The stories are divided up by seven chakras — essentially how deeply the recipient was touched, going from purely physical help to deeply spiritual help. She explains how this arose naturally from the letters:

As I considered how grace, intuition, and power worked together in the stories of the people who wrote me, I noticed that most of the writers quite unconsciously categorized their letters for me by using the same or similar turns of phrases. For example, people who received assistance out of nowhere from a stranger referred to either the person or his or her story as “The Good Samaritan.” After I organized all the letters, seven categories emerged….

When seven categories emerged out of one thousand two hundred letters, I wanted to see if they might correspond with the meaning of the chakras. At first I did this out of curiosity, not really expecting that I’d find a new perspective on the architecture of the human energy system. Yet when I finished this little exercise, I discovered that just as there is a hierarchy of power, there is also a hierarchy of grace. And I realized that the call to be of service to one another, the intuition that prompts us to use our power to help others, is wired into our physical and spiritual nature.

Reading this book gave me a much deeper awareness of how my life can touch others and made me want to be more aware of intuitive promptings to be a help to other people. A very uplifting book. Reading this book was itself a blessing.

myss.com

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Review of The Whole Language, by Gregory Boyle

The Whole Language

The Power of Extravagant Tenderness

by Gregory Boyle

Avid Reader Press (Simon and Schuster), 2021. 226 pages.
Review written April 26, 2022, from a library book
Starred Review

Oh, this book, like Gregory Boyle’s earlier two books, Tattoos on the Heart and Barking to the Choir, just filled my heart with joy! It also gave me sheer amazement at these examples of faith lived out, modeling God’s overwhelming love, and yes, extravagant tenderness.

And who are the recipients of this love? Gang members. Father Boyle, a Jesuit priest, is the founder of Homeboy Industries, an organization that helps get gang members out of gangs. He tells stories from the lives of the men he works with, and I can’t get over how he persists on looking on them with eyes of love no matter what they do — and he conveys the message that this is how God looks on them, too.

And in this message of God loving gang members, I also absorb the message that God loves me, that maybe it’s not all about keeping a lid on sin, that maybe it’s much more about love.

Father Boyle teaches by telling stories. The titles of his books mostly come from sweet things he hears the homies say. For this one, he tells about a gang member impressed with another’s command of Russian. In amazement, he proclaims that the guy spoke “the WHOLE language.”

Mario meant fluency when he said the “whole language.” I wish to suggest the same here. We are on the lookout for a fuller expression and a wider frame within which to view things. Allow the extravagant tenderness of God to wash over us. Permit the lavishing of such love to surround and fill us, then go into the world and speak the “whole language.” This is the fluency of the mystic, who chooses to live in the soul, inhabiting the tender fragrance of love. The longing of the mystic is to be at home with yourself and then put the welcome mat out so that others find a home in you. In this, we want to be “all there.” The Magi hear in a dream: “Depart by a different route.” In this book, I hope to whisper the same invitation. The whole language sees us departing by a different route.

If we’re honest, the world kind of yawns at “religion,” but snaps to attention when offered the authenticity and authority of the fluent, mystical, nondualist view. We want to both hear and speak this whole language, because, mostly, we only know the half of it. We get stuck in a partial view.

This mystical kinship, this speaking the whole language, is the exact opposite of the age in which we currently live: tribal, divisive, suspicious, anchored in the illusion of separation — unhealthy, sad, fearful, other-izing, and demonizing. Mystics replace fear with love, vindictiveness with openhearted kindness, envy with supportive affection, withering judgment with extravagant tenderness. Now is the time, as author Brian Doyle suggests, to embrace “something other than combat.”

This book is packed full of stories of extravagant tenderness. I can’t encourage you enough to try Gregory Doyle’s books. You will be amazed and blessed, and you’ll also be encouraged to look at the world in new ways.

HomeboyIndustries.org
AvidReaderPress.com
SimonandSchuster.com

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Review of The Choice, by Dr. Edith Eva Eger

The Choice

Embrace the Possible

by Dr. Edith Eva Eger
with Esmé Schwall Weigand

Scribner, 2017. 288 pages.
Review written April 5, 2022, from a library book
Starred Review

This book was published five years ago, but it still has a long holds list at the library. In fact, I had to read it in two sections, because I’d been reading only a chapter at a time, and in the middle I had to return the book and put it on hold again.

The story is powerful, inspiring, and transformational. This book is a memoir by a Holocaust survivor — but it also contains powerfully encouraging words about healing from trauma by a doctor of psychology.

Here’s how Dr. Eger finishes the Introduction:

Whether you’re in the dawn or noon or late evening of your life, whether you’ve seen deep suffering or are only just beginning to encounter struggle, whether you’re falling in love for the first time or losing your life partner to old age, whether you’re healing from a life-altering event or in search of some little adjustments that could bring more joy to your life, I would love to help you discover how to escape the concentration camp of your own mind and become the person you were meant to be. I would love to help you experience freedom from the past, freedom from failures and fears, freedom from anger and mistakes, freedom from regret and unresolved grief — and the freedom to enjoy the full, rich feast of life. We cannot choose to have a life free of hurt. But we can choose to be free, to escape the past, no matter what befalls us, and to embrace the possible. I invite you to make the choice to be free.

Like the challah my mother used to make for our Friday night meal, this book has three strands: my story of survival, my story of healing myself, and the stories of the precious people I’ve had the privilege of guiding to freedom. I’ve conveyed my experience as I can best remember it.
The stories about patients accurately reflect the core of these experiences, but I have changed all names and identifying details and in some instances created composites from patients working through similar challenges. What follows is the story of the choices, big and small, that can lead us from trauma to triumph, from darkness to light, from imprisonment to freedom.

You couldn’t ask for a more dramatic story as an illustration than Dr. Eger’s. We hear her heart-wrenching story during the Holocaust, and then she’s honest about the difficulty it took her to heal from that trauma.

If she can heal from her trauma, then surely we can heal from ours.

Her message is consistent: “You can’t change what happened, you can’t change what you did or what was done to you. But you can choose how you live now.”

Here’s to choosing freedom! This book will help you do it.

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Atlas of the Heart, by Brené Brown

Atlas of the Heart

Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of the Human Experience

by Brené Brown

Random House, 2021. 304 pages.
Review written March 17, 2022, from a library book
Starred Review

Brené Brown does an amazing job of taking scholarly research on human emotions and communicating the information in a way people can understand and apply it to their lives. With this book, she’s outdone herself.

This book is in a large format with glossy pages and color photographs, so it’s something of an art book as well. The bulk of the book is a catalog of emotions. They’re presented in thirteen chapters, which gather similar emotions. For example, the first chapter is “Places We Go When Things Are Uncertain or Too Much” and includes Stress, Overwhelm, Anxiety, Worry, Avoidance, Excitement, Dread, Fear, and Vulnerability.

With each emotion, she explains what it is and how you can notice it in yourself, as well as what psychological research says about it. It’s all fascinating as well as helpful. And it helps us understand ourselves better.

But the end of the book quietly packs a punch. After exploring all the emotions, there’s a section called “Cultivating Meaningful Connection,” which she explains is built on grounded confidence, the courage to walk alongside others, and story stewardship. It’s all explained beautifully, and there’s even a comic to help the reader understand how it looks.

At the back, she explains how the entire “atlas” of emotions was building to these ideas:

As you review the model, you’ll see that knowing and applying the language of human experience and emotion is a key property of all the major categories that support meaningful connection. That’s how we ended up here, together, sharing this book. When this emerged from the data, I thought, “Damn. I can’t write a book on meaningful connection without including some kind of glossary or compendium of emotion and experience words.” It was and remains weirdly shocking to me that access to and application of language are central to grounded confidence, walking alongside one another, and story stewardship. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see language emerge as core to one of these, but that it’s central to all three speaks to its power.

So learn about the language of emotions in order to build meaningful connection with the people in your life. This book will help you on that journey.

brenebrown.com
randomhousebooks.com

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Review of Wholehearted Faith, by Rachel Held Evans

Wholehearted Faith

by Rachel Held Evans
with Jeff Chu

HarperOne, 2021. 196 pages.
Review written March 10, 2022, from a library book
Starred Review

Beloved author Rachel Held Evans passed away suddenly in 2019 at 37 years old. She had unpublished work and manuscripts, and her husband asked her friend and collaborator Jeff Chu to finish and edit the book for her. The beginning and end of the book include tributes to Rachel and an explanation of how this book came to be.

This book is beautiful. The bulk of it is entirely in Rachel’s voice. I learned once again how much I relate to her personally — how much my own spiritual journey has been like hers. We were both good Sunday school students, winning prizes for knowing the Bible. We both went even more all-in during college at a conservative Christian college. And we both wound up in a much more progressive and gracious place than where we were brought up to be, though our adult journeys diverged much more than our youths did — but the end result seems very much the same.

And I love everything she writes in this book. From our similar backgrounds, I’ve got some of the same hang-ups as she did – for example, growing up with a focus on sin and what we “deserve.” I, too, am blown away by the thought from a poem by Daniel Ladinsky that God adores His creation.

These words seemed dangerous, heretical even. They seemed too good to be true. And yet did they not call to mind the poetry of the prophets, who spoke to Israel of a God who “will exult over you with loud singing,” who has “called you by name,” and who has “loved you with an everlasting love”? Did they not sound like the God of Hebrew Scripture, who soared over creation in the beginning and declared every flower and fish and tree and human in it “good”? Did they not echo the letters of a saint who proclaimed that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God”? Did they not sound like Jesus, who, through the smooth laminate of my AWANA workbook, first told me that “God so loved the world”?

This book tells Rachel’s story of getting to that place where she could believe those words, and then continues on to “Essays on the Christian Life.” The result is short chapters that I could read easily one per day – and I was always uplifted.

There’s a chapter on the Sabbath, and I loved the thought that God asks us to do less, not more.

My point in dwelling on the Sabbath — my own hope in dwelling in the Sabbath — is to remember that our beginnings were grace and rest, and our ends will be too. If there’s any truth in any of this Christianity thing, it is that our existence started with rest, with the opportunity to glory in having earned nothing and done nothing, and it will find its culmination in rest, with the joy of feasting in the knowledge that we earned none of this abundance and had to do nothing to enjoy this goodness, nothing, that is, other than to simply receive.

But my very favorite section in the whole book comes in the essay Jeff Chu chose to put at the end of the book, as Rachel’s last message to her readers:

We can be gracious because we are grateful. We can love because we have been loved.

On the days when I believe, I know all this to be true. On the days when you believe, I hope you’ll know this to be true too. I hope you’ll feel deep within your heart and with every cell of your being that you are held and embraced by the God who made you, the God who redeemed you, and the God who accompanies you through every end and onward to every beginning.

Even on the days when I’m not sure I can believe it wholeheartedly, this is still the story I’m willing to be wrong about.

This book makes me sad that it’s the last one we’ll get from Rachel Held Evans, but the words of this book fill me with joy. Highly recommended.

rachelheldevans.com

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Review of Gender: A Graphic Guide, by Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele

Gender

A Graphic Guide

by Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele

Icon Books, 2019. 176 pages.
Review written July 31, 2020, from a library book
Starred Review

This book explores, in graphic format, more aspects of gender than I even realized existed.

Here’s some text from a page at the start titled “Multiple Meanings”:

Gender is both in the world around us and within us in our own experience. Gender is socially constructed: our culture develops and passes on strong messages about what it means to be each gender – and related roles and behaviours – through media, laws, education, and so on. At the same time we all have a lived experience of our gender which impacts how we experience our body, our feelings, our relationships, and pretty much everything in life. The way gender is socially constructed in the time and place that we live is part of what shapes our lived experience, but it’s not the whole story, and different people relate to gender in different ways.

This means gender is both deeply political and personal, which can make it complex – and emotionally charged – to talk about.

The chapters cover the history of gender, the science and philosophy of gender, masculinities, femininities, non-binary genders, transgender & cisgender, the future of gender, and sums up thinking about gender. It’s wonderfully comprehensive, bringing up different aspects even of the stereotypes, topics like intersectionality and colonialism, and quoting a wide range of sociologists and thinkers.

Gender is such a part of our lives, we may not even realize all these aspects exist. This is a wonderful way to give more consideration to something that’s a fundamental part of your life.

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Review of On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder, illustrated by Nora Krug

On Tyranny

Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Graphic Edition

by Timothy Snyder
illustrated by Nora Krug

Ten Speed Press, 2021. Original edition published in 2017. 128 pages.
Review written January 6, 2022, from a library book
Starred Review

I think copying out the Prologue will explain well what this book is trying to do:

History does not repeat, but it does instruct. As the Founding Fathers debated our Constitution, they took instruction from the history they knew. Concerned that the democratic republic they envisioned would collapse, they contemplated the descent of ancient democracies and republics into oligarchy and empire. As they knew, Aristotle warned that inequality brought instability, while Plato believed that demagogues exploited free speech to install themselves as tyrants. In founding a democratic republic upon law and establishing a system of checks and balances, the Founding Fathers sought to avoid the evil that they, like the ancient philosophers, called TYRANNY. They had in mind the usurpation of power by a single individual or group, or the circumvention of law by rulers for their own benefit.

Much of the succeeding political debate in the United States has concerned the problem of tyranny within American society: over slaves and women, for example.

It is thus a primary American tradition to consider history when our political order seems imperiled. If we worry today that the American experiment is threatened by tyranny, we can follow the example of the Founding Fathers and contemplate the history of other democracies and republics. The good news is that we can draw upon more recent and relevant examples than ancient Greece and Rome. The bad news is that the history of modern democracy is also one of decline and fall. Since the American colonies declared their independence from a British monarchy that the Founders deemed “tyrannical,” European history has seen three major democratic moments: after the First World War in 1918, after the Second World War in 1945, and after the end of communism in 1989. Many of the democracies founded at these junctures failed, in circumstances that in some important respects resemble our own.

He continues to talk about the rise of fascism, Nazism, and communism in the twentieth century.

We might be tempted to think that our democratic heritage automatically protects us from such threats. This is a misguided reflex. In fact, the precedent set by the Founders demands that we examine history to understand the deep sources of tyranny, and to consider the proper responses to it. Americans today are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism in the twentieth century. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.

This book presents twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

The first lesson is “Do not obey in advance.” The first example is that several countries taken over by Hitler started persecuting Jews before they were ordered to.

Some other notable lessons are: “Remember professional ethics.” (Doctors should not be willing to experiment on prisoners, for example.) “Be wary of paramilitaries.” “Be reflective if you must be armed.” “Be kind to our language.” “Believe in truth.” “Learn from peers in other countries.” “Listen for dangerous words.”

The lesson “Be a patriot.” contrasts patriotism with nationalism. “A nationalist encourages us to be our worst, and then tells us that we are the best.”

A patriot, by contrast, wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves. A patriot must be concerned with the real world, which is the only place where their country can be loved and sustained. A patriot has universal values, standards by which they judge their nation, always wishing it well – and wishing that it would do better.

The Epilogue contrasts the politics of inevitability, eternity, and history.

The politics of inevitability is “the sense that history could move in only one direction: toward liberal democracy.” Communism had a similar politics of inevitability, though theirs was that history was moving toward an inevitable socialist utopia.

The politics of eternity are “concerned with the past, but in a self-absorbed way, free of any real concern with facts. Its mood is a longing for past moments that never really happened during epochs that were, in fact, disastrous.”

Eternity politicians bring us the past as a vast misty courtyard of illegible monuments to national victimhood, all of them equally distant from the present, all of them equally accessible for manipulation. Every reference to the past seems to involve an attack by some external enemy upon the purity of the nation. National populists are eternity politicians.

I was a little surprised that his first examples of that were politicians advocating for Brexit in the United Kingdom and the National Rally in France. But yes, he does include “Make America great again.”

He says it’s easy to go from the politics of inevitability to the politics of eternity.

The only thing that stands between them is history itself. History allows us to see patterns and make judgments. It sketches for us the structures within which we can seek freedom. It reveals moments, each one of them different, none entirely unique. To understand one moment is to see the possibility of being the cocreator of another. History permits us to be responsible: not for everything, but for something.

The illustrator put many photographs from tyrannies in the twentieth century in these pages, along with disturbing images that will help the words strike home. The book was clearly updated in 2021, since it includes many statements from the Trump presidency and the events of January 6, 2021.

The result is a powerful book of history with warnings for today.

tenspeed.com

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Review of Gender Queer, by Maia Kobabe

Gender Queer

A Memoir

by Maia Kobabe
colors by Phoebe Kobabe

Oni Press, 2019. 240 pages.
Review written January 30, 2022, from a library book
Starred Review
2020 Alex Award Winner
2020 Stonewall – Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award Honor Book

I decided to put this book on hold after a person called me from the other side of the country and yelled at me because they said our library carried pornographic materials, speaking of this book in particular. (A different branch had used an image of the cover in a display.)

Now I’ve read the book and, reader, it is not pornographic. Our library has the book in the adult section, and I thought that was them avoiding controversy, but I see that the awards it has won are awards for adult books. Amazon lists the age as for 18 and up. The Alex Award is for adult books that appeal to teens. The Stonewall – Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award is for adult nonfiction books with LGBTQ content. So I will also list this book in adult nonfiction, with the note that this book will be of interest to young adults who have questions about their own gender and orientation.

Gender Queer is the story of Maia Kobabe’s lifelong quest to understand her own gender and sexuality. And in explaining it, the reader comes to understand her perspective. We learn about pronouns and why e strongly prefers e/em/eir. We learn what it means to not feel like a girl or a boy.

It’s in graphic novel format, so there are pictures along the way. Getting eir period was a horror to em, and the comics convey that. Getting a pap smear felt like violence, and you can see that in the pictures. And the page that is most cited as pornographic is when e and eir girlfriend tried strapping a dildo to em, but e wasn’t comfortable with that. It’s a comic book drawing, and it’s not going to titillate anyone, and it’s illustrating the author’s own story, with all of eir struggle to find eir place and know eirself.

There’s a lot here that will help any reader understand transgender people of any pronouns better. E is honest and forthcoming about eir journey, and I can only imagine how wonderful it would be for anyone on a similar journey to read this and know they are not alone.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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