And She Was
And She Was
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Annotation: When Dara learns that her mother Mellie is transgender and transitioned soon after she was born and her biological mother died, she sets off on a road trip to find the family she never knew she had.
Catalog Number: #158608
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 353 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-338-15053-7
ISBN 13: 978-1-338-15053-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017011240
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
When aspiring tennis-pro Dara digs up her birth certificate, she is not prepared to find two strangers' names listed as her parents. It turns out Mellie, Dara's mother and the only parent she's known, is a trans woman. The name listed under "father" is Mellie, and Dara's birth mother died when she was a baby. Feeling confused and betrayed, Dara and her best friend, Sam, set out to find her wealthy maternal grandparents, who she just found out existed. The narrative bounces between Dara's search and e-mails from Mellie to Dara, outlining Mellie's abusive childhood, eventual transition, and the heartbreaking events that led them to living a deeply private life. Dara is confused, hurting, and obsessed with tennis, and although she comes off as self-absorbed through much of the story, she gains a bit of empathy and understanding as her new reality sinks in. Mellie's e-mails are full of information, regret, and deep love for her daughter, and though it's a slightly clunky plot device, both women's flaws and growth ring true.
Horn Book
Eighteen-year-old tennis star Dara is shocked to unearth a family secret: her single mother, Mellie, transitioned from male to female after Dara's birth mother died in an accident. Reeling, Dara hits the road to locate her grandparents; along the way, emails from Mellie fill in missing family history. While the road-trip story line is rather generic, the sensitive depiction of a delicate family issue is noteworthy.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up When 18-year-old Dara finds her long-hidden birth certificate and discovers that her mother, Mellie, is a transgender woman, she sets off to find her biological mother's family and unravel some of the secrets surrounding her childhood. As she and her best friend Sam travel south, Mellie sends Dara long, brutally honest emails detailing her transition and the choices she made. Although this novel centers Dara's experience of learning about her mother's past, Mellie's emails are, by far, the strongest aspect of the novel. They provide a complex first-person narrative of Mellie's journey from childhood to adulthood, in an unflinching portrayal of the abuse, social rejection, suicidal ideation, and eventual self-acceptance. Dara's somewhat predictable road-trip story and budding romance with her best friend break up the intensity of Mellie's narrative and build suspense between the revelatory emails. However, the more complex elements of Dara's character, such as her professional tennis ambitions and class-related struggles, are never fully developed in the text. Instead, Dara's story ultimately serves as an opportunity for readers to learn about contemporary transgender issues by her side. VERDICT Despite its uneven character and plot development, this novel offers a compelling reading experience, making it a valuable addition to library collections. Molly Saunders, Homewood Public Library, AL
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (11/1/17)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Horn Book (4/1/19)
School Library Journal (12/1/17)
Reading Level: 7.0
Interest Level: 9-12
"I don't understand." It's a puny phrase for such an overwhelming feeling. "I was assigned male at birth," she says quietly. "Marcus." The name comes out scratchy, as if it's grown weak with disuse. "I had all the anatomical boy parts, and everyone assumed I was a boy. But even before I fully understood the differences between boys and girls, I knew I wasn't what everyone wanted me to be. I couldn't tell anybody what I was feeling, though." "Which was what?" I press. I need to hear her say the words. "That God had made a mistake. My body wasn't right. People didn't understand trans issues then the way they're starting to now. There was no Jazz Jennings or Laverne Cox or Chaz Bono or Transparent. I never even heard the words transgender or transsexual until I was out of high school." There they are. Those are the words. I've heard about transgender people, of course. I've watched the reality shows and followed the political campaigns to restrict public bathroom access -- when two of your childhood idols are Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, it's pretty much ingrained in you to care deeply about LGBTQ issues. If it were anyone else, I'd hug them and say, "As long as you're happy. I support you." Truly. But how am I supposed to do that now, when I'm finding out my own mother has lied to me -- intensely -- all these years? Lied about my origin and her past and the baby pictures and who knows what else. She didn't trust me -- respect me -- enough to tell me the truth. I'm feeling even more lost now than I did before. Mom's confession is not an answer; it's a domino that's tipped over a thousand other questions.

Excerpted from And She Was by Jessica Verdi
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Dara's lived a sheltered life with her single mom, Mellie. Now, at eighteen, she's dreaming of more. When Dara digs up her never-before-seen birth certificate, her world implodes. Why are two strangers listed as her parents?Dara confronts her mother, and is stunned by what she learns: Mellie is transgender. The unfamiliar name listed under "father"? That's Mellie. She transitioned when Dara was a baby, after Dara's birth mother died. She changed her name, started over.But Dara still has more questions than answers. Reeling, she sets off on an impromptu road trip with her best guy friend, Sam, in tow. She is determined to find the extended family she's never even met. What she does discover -- and what her mother reveals, piece by piece, over emails -- will challenge and change Dara more than she can imagine.This is a gorgeous, timely, and essential novel about the importance of being our true selves. The back matter includes an author's note and resources for readers.

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