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She’s Not There is the unconventional memoir of a person who changes genders, a portrait of a loving marriage that withstands a radical change, and a revealing look at society’s folly in over-emphazing the importance of fixed gender roles.
As Jennifer Finney Boylan recounts her transformation from James, who loves his wife Grace, to becoming “Jenny”, who is like Grace’s new sister, she reveal as much about her inner-life, successes, and struggles, as she does about the society that she lives in. While Boylan’s own secret was quite unique, she captures the universal sense of being uncomfortable, out of sorts with the world, and misunderstood by her peers. Jenny is supported on her journey by her best friend, novelist Richard Russo, who goes from begging his friend to “Be a man” (in every sense of the word) to accepting her as an attractive, buoyant woman. “The most unexpected thing,” Russo writes in his Afterword to the book, “is in how Jenny’s story we recognize our shared humanity.”
To this extraordinary memoir, Boylan brings the humorous and fresh voice that won her accolades as one of the best comic novelists of her generation. With her distinctive and honest perspective, She’s Not There explores the dramatic outward changes and unexpected results of life as a woman: Jenny fights the urge to eat salad, while James consumed plates of ribs; gone is the stability of “one damn mood, all the damn time.”
As James evolves into Jennifer, a marvelously human perspective emerges on issues of love, sex, and the fascinating relationship between our physical and our intuitive selves. Through the clear eyes of a remarkable and insightful woman, She’s Not There provides a new window on the often confounding process of a person coming to truly know and accept themself, in spite of the outside world’s dictates and expectations.
"With bluntness and sincerity, Boylan opens up about the 40 years she spent living as a man, about being trapped in the wrong body, the awkwardness of never feeling appropriately dressed, the desire to live outwardly as the oppositte gender, and the overwhelming longing to fit in with the mainstream....Often humorous and illustrative and always enjoyable and enriching without being preachy, Boylan selflessly offers the reader all the painful details of her life as sacrifice for a better appreciation of what it means to be transexual in today's world. Her book will do more for raising awareness of the transexual experience than Jan Morris's Conundrum. Recommended for all libraries and special collections."