I anticipated gorgeous prose from Rae Theodore—I’d read her first book, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender, after all. I knew her second memoir would probably make me cry (again). I expected some hard, pure lines of gut-wrenching truths, some "wow" moments of self-recognition, and she abosutely delivered.
She had me from the very first page.
You know, my mother played drums and my mother let me play drums and I didn't properly credit her for not feeding me gender-based bullshit. This book gave me an appreciation for the feminist household in which I was raised. But I saw myself in the pages as well--not just our differences, but our similarities.
Theodore's short chapters capture small defining moments, both painful and humorous, or at times both:
“Why are you laughing?” my SigO asked as I chortled out loud while reading.
“Never glitter a butch,” I replied.
"Truth," he answered, smiling.
But here’s the thing—Rae Theodore wasn't satisfied with the easy laugh. Instead she unpacked the story and wrung our emotions in a totally different direction.
A letter to her mullet. A parody of William Carlos Williams involving flannel (another laugh out loud moment for me). Tips for Heterosexual Women encountering butches in the wild. These redeeming moments are tucked between stories that peel away layers of shame to the very heart of the struggle for self-acceptance.
I felt as if I were reading Theodore’s journal—short scribblings, reminisces of pop culture icons, lists, letters, and small bombshell moments interspersed with longer stories. What you get, in the end, is balance. A negative chapter ends in a redeeming moment. Funny chapters end in poignancy. The whole book vibrates with tension as we journey the breadth of the emotional spectrum.