The exuberant memoir of a man named James who became a woman named Jenny.
Shes Not There is the story of a person changing genders, the story of a person bearing and finally revealing a complex secret; above all, it is a love story.
By turns funny and deeply moving, Jennifer Finney Boylan explores the remarkable territory that lies between men and women, examines changing friendships, and rejoices in the redeeming power of family. Shes Not There is a portrait of a loving marriagethe love of James for his wife, Grace, and, against all odds, the enduring love of Grace for the woman who becomes her "sister," Jenny.
To this extraordinary true story, Boylan brings the humorous, fresh voice that won her accolades as one of the best comic novelists of her generation. With her distinctive and winning perspective, Shes 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."
While Boylans own secret was unusual, to say the least, she captures the universal sense of feeling 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 Jennys story we recognize our shared humanity."
As James evolves into Jennifer in scenes that are by turns tender, startling, and witty, 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 truly remarkable woman, Shes Not There provides a new window on the often confounding process of accepting ourselves.
The New York Times - Janet Maslin
Although this story is by no means pain-free (one friend commits suicide), Ms. Boylan places her emphasis elsewhere. What she accomplishes, most entertainingly, is to draw the reader into extremely strange circumstances as if they were utterly normal. It's easy to feel, as Mr. Russo apparently did, when being told by his friend's doctor that sexual reassignment surgery and novel writing require similar precision.
Boylan may be choosing to accentuate the positive, but this leaves the story feeling incomplete, which is odd given the book's striving to feel whole.
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 transsexual in today's world. Recommended for all libraries and special collections.
The limpid, soul-rich story of novelist James Boylan becoming Jennifer Boylan....Serious, real, funny. Told so disarmingly that it's strong enough to de-fang a taboo.
Haven Kimmel, author of A Girl Named Zippy
In addition to being a complete delight, this book should make us all question what we mean when we use the words love, marriage, and friendship. Jennifer Finney Boylan is a great gift to womanhood.
Augusten Burroughs, author of Running With Scissors
Beautifully crafted, fearless, painfully honest, inspiring and extremely witty. Jennifer Finney Boylan is an exquisite writer with a fascinating story and this combination has resulted in one of the most remarkable, moving and unforgettable memoirs in recent history.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
While over all the book was well written and highly interesting, I would have liked to have heard more from her family. I was left with the feeling that the concerns of others and how they felt were not really of importance. Realizing that... Read More
Rated of 5
by Fiona Clancy
I really enjoyed this book and how it with its positive energy it takes you through the painful experience of transexuality.
This is a book of hope. It is somebodies actual life being told. You are left feeling you know the author, that you... Read More
Rated of 5
James/Jennifer begins telling the story in one role and finishes in quite another. He has amanged to walk the tight rope of maintaining her family and career while changing both his/her basic identity and physical ability. It is... Read More
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