Excerpt from I'm Looking Through You by Jennifer Finney Boylan, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

I'm Looking Through You

Growing Up Haunted

by Jennifer Finney Boylan

I'm Looking Through You
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2008, 288 pages
    Oct 2008, 288 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

"What's wrong?" I said.

It seemed to take her a long time to put it into words, as if she were trying to find the courage to say something she had never spoken out loud before in her life. "I don't want to be who I am," she said finally, in a hoarse, desperate voice.

Amazingly, I understood what this felt like. I'd had this feeling lots of times, when I was younger. "Okay," I said. "So who do you want to be?"

"I want to be someone—" she said. "Who writes poems."

The words hung in the air between us. I blew some air through my cheeks, and felt bad for her. There'd been a lot of progress in the field of psychology over the years, but so far as I knew there was still no cure for poetry. I don't know. Ritalin, maybe.

"Have you…," I said. "You know. Tried to write poems?"

"No," she said. The tears spilled over her lashes again and rolled down her face. "Because I don't know how. Because I'm not the kind of person who writes them."

"Maybe you could change. You could be that kind of person. If you wrote some. Why don't you try?"
She stopped crying and looked at me suspiciously. "My poems would suck," she said with an air of clairvoyance.

"Probably at first. Then you'll write some more, maybe you'll get better."

"You think?" she said.

I nodded cautiously.

"And then—" she said. "I'll be somebody else?"

I wasn't sure what to tell her. To be honest I was less interested in helping Brandy than I was in getting out of the ladies room. At the same time, I didn't want to lie to her. It seemed likely to me that she was clinging to a false hope, the idea that writing poems would make her into somebody else. What seemed more likely was that, when all was said and done, she'd still be herself, except that now she'd own a rhyming dictionary.

But what the hell. I didn't know Brandy's future any more than I knew my own. Encouraging her seemed just as likely to be an act of kindness as of cruelty.

"Why don't you write," I said, "and see who you are afterward?"

Brandy took this in. "Okay," she said hopefully. "Okay." She looked at me hungrily. "And then—if I wrote a poem good enough—maybe you'd reconsider?"


"You know," she said, softly brushing her fingertips against my shoulder. "Maybe we could be girlfriends, you and me? And if I ask you to kiss me, next time you won't act like I have leprosy and junk?"

I sighed. I don't underestimate the power of literature. But that would have to be one hell of a poem.

"Good luck," I said, by way of answer, and then left the stall. She didn't follow me. Out in the bar, I could hear the sound of Big Head Chester tuning his guitar. "You coming?"

"I'll be along," said Brandy. "I'm going to start working on my poem right now!"

"Good for you," I said, and washed my hands at the sink. "That's great."

"Hey Jenny," she said. "Do you ever wish you were a man?"

"A man?" I said, stunned. I looked at myself in the mirror. "Not really."

"I do," said her voice, from the stall. "Sometimes."

I dried my hands with brown paper towels.

"What do you think it'd be like?" said Brandy.

I told her the truth. "I don't know, Brandy," I said. "Kind of like being a woman," I said. "Only less so."

I returned to the foyer of the old hotel with my head spinning. On the walls around me were framed photographs of John Wayne, Jesus Christ, and Elvis. It reminded me of something, but I wasn't quite sure what. Out in the ballroom Big Head Chester was noodling around with the opening riff of "Paint It Black," the Stones tune. I heard the crack of the cue ball as a guy named Freebird made the break over on the pool table. The nine ball fell into the side pocket.

Excerpted from I'm Looking Through You by Jennifer Finney Boylan Copyright © 2008 by Jennifer Finney Boylan. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.