“A father for six years, a mother for ten, and for a time in between, neither, or both, Jennifer Finney Boylan has seen parenthood from both sides of the gender divide. When her two children were young, Boylan came out as transgender, and as Jenny transitioned from a man to a woman and from a father to a mother, her family faced unique challenges and questions. In this thoughtful, tear-jerking, hilarious memoir, Jenny asks what it means to be a father, or a mother, and to what extent gender shades our experiences as parents.
Through both her own story and incredibly insightful interviews with others, including Richard Russo, Edward Albee, Ann Beattie, Augusten Burroughs, Susan Minot, Trey Ellis, Timothy Kreider, and more, Jenny examines relationships between fathers, mothers, and children; people’s memories of the children they were and the parents they became; and the many different ways a family can be. With an Afterword by Anna Quindlen, Stuck in the Middle with You is a brilliant meditation on raising—and on being—a child.”
I read Boylan’s memoir when I was starting college years ago. It is the first book I will reference whenever transwomen and feminism comes up. I am constantly telling people to read it just so they can be mildly informed of the consequences of a transition on feminism.
This book, like the other, came into my life when I needed it. I am started to contemplate children more than before. This book puts some perspective on what it really means to be a parent. The main question raised over and over again is what makes a mother a mother and a father a father. Half of the book is Boylan telling stories to illustrate her life as a parent before, during, and after her transition. The other half is interviews with famous writers about parenthood.
Most of the stories Boylan tells make me wish she were my Maddy too. She is down to Earth and a parent that really cares about her children. She worries about them more than herself and really supports them doing what they need and want, even if it is snake milking in Australia.
The interviews were very hit or miss for me. One of the interviews focused very much on biology. By the end I hated the man for saying that a mother had to give birth and a father was the one who helped create the life. He left no room for adoptive parents or me in the situation. He also made it so a person could never full transition into what they needed and wanted to be if they had children. This point was brought up later and the interviewee said no that biology didn’t lock one into being a mother or a father.
4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.
You can buy the book here.