Trauma has a way of shaping our choices like few things can. Though we can pretend that everything is fine, the truth is that it has a way of emotionally eating us alive.
Kristin Hannah‘s 2004 novel, Summer Island, is about two families who are forced to deal with their past. To the outside world, Nora is a successful advice columnist/radio show host. When it is revealed that Nora walked out on her family and cheated on her husband, her career and reputation crumble.
After surviving a nearly crippling car accident, Nora’s younger daughter Ruby becomes her mother’s reluctant caretaker. Ruby is a struggling comedienne who has yet to work through her anger and is offered a tidy sum to write a tell-all article.
When Eric came out, he was excommunicated by his family. After losing his longtime partner to AIDS, he is now dying from terminal cancer. Instead of spending his last days in a formal medical setting, Eric is moved to the family home and taken care of by Dean, his estranged brother. As they reconnect, the hard truth about their collective past becomes harder to ignore.
Adding to the complication is that Ruby grew up with Eric and Dean. Dean also happens to be her first boyfriend and first love. Though it seems impossible, these two families must reckon with their previous choices and the consequences.
Wow. Hannah proves once more why she is one of the finest fiction writers of our era. The tension is so thick that it can be cut with a knife. With a master’s touch, she intertwines the narratives of Eric, Nora, and their not-so-happy family lives. I was hooked from nearly the first page and did not want the story to end.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Summer Island is available wherever books are sold.
Coming out is not as simple as stating your truth. For many, it takes years, if not decades to gather the courage to reveal who they really are. Built-in, (which goes without saying) is the fear of rejection from family and friends.
As he grew into an adult, he slowly began to accept who he was and go through physical changes (medical procedures included) to match his outsides to his insides. The narrative is told from multiple perspectives: Jeremy, Jo, his father, and his siblings. It is more than the fight for his identity, it is his right to be respected as he is by society and the law.
This book is fantastic and different from other memoirs about this subject. What makes it unusual is the multiple perspectives. It gives the reader a 180 view of what it is like to come out as a transgender person and the multiple ripples this revelation creates.
I also very much appreciate the political action Jo took. She became an advocate not just for her son, but for the millions of LGBTQ Americans who are being discriminated against simply because of who they are.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey is available wherever books are sold.
From an audience perspective, it would appear that both starring in a blockbuster movie and coming from a respected performing family guarantees success in Hollywood. Anyone who knows the truth would say otherwise.
The reader is taken on an emotional journey through her early years, the ups and downs of her personal and private life, and finally, her finding peace with her identity.
This book is amazing. Grey’s tale is emotional, human, honest, and goes straight to the heart. She leaves no stone unturned, revealing her flaws, her mistakes, and the various heartaches that came her way. Within the narrative, there were two stories that stood out. The first was her father publicly coming out almost a decade ago after spending a lifetime in the closet. The second is her wish to speak to co-star Patrick Swayze one last time. It is a heartfelt wish that I think that anyone who has lost a loved one will understand.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on a “best of” list come the end of the year. It is one of my favorite books of 2022.
When that didn’t come to pass, Rainbow took the out-of-work actors’ career route: working both at a restaurant and as a receptionist. Using his MacBook and the news as his raw material, he started creating videos. His career took off at the start of the 2016 Presidential election and the announcement that you know who was the Republican nominee. From there, he became the satirist, comic, and musical genius that has kept us laughing and sane for the last six years.
I loved this book. Rainbow is candid, funny, and authentic. He is uniquely himself in a way that is both universal, endearing, and charming. There is something universal in his struggle that I think we can all learn from while getting a few giggles in the process. And if anyone is still asking, that is his real name.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Playing with Myself is available wherever books are sold.