Truth Be Told, I really didn’t like this book. I gave it multiple chances, assuming that my own moods might be interfering with the read, but it doesn’t get any better, regardless of the mood.
In all fairness, the blurb did promise that “this is the other side of the story,” but I expected that story to be a little more balanced. Instead, this is a very bitter – and often cruel – bit of venting by the author, who didn’t take the initial coming out very well, and who still hasn’t found a way to deal with it. Despite the years that have passed since Audrey transitioned, Alexandra still can’t be bothered to even refer to her by her proper name, much less use the proper gender when talking about her. It’s deliberate, it’s disrespectful, and it’s insulting.
As for that balance, this is largely a self-indulgent reflection on the author’s life, in which Audrey’s transition is barely a footnote. It’s long-winded, boring, and full of extraneous details about things like horseback riding that we could have done without. Even after the pivotal event, the focus remains solely on the author, although she does go out of her way to show just how judgemental and disgusted her friends and family were towards Audrey as well, just so we know she’s not biased by her relationship status.
Look, I get that the author was hurt by the break-up of her fairy tale marriage. I get that she was devastated by what she saw as a very personal betrayal. I get that she had to deal with a lot, from her own emotions, to her family’s response, to society’s attitudes towards the issue. I would have cried ‘shenanigans’ if she didn’t at least acknowledge that pain, but I also expected her to get past it. At some point, I expect some degree of acceptance, and maybe even a little sympathy for Audrey’s situation.
In case you’re wondering whether it ever gets better, let me share with you what I expected to be a pivotal conversation towards the end. It’s a conversation she had with Audrey about her plans for the book, which Audrey made it clear she wanted nothing to do with. After Audrey shares her concerns about not needing any more problems, and shares her fears of becoming a hate crime murder victim, the author’s response is, “Oh, for pity’s sake! Really? Whining is sooo unbecoming . . . This is bullshit.”
That’s pretty much the point where my dislike soured to hate.
Ever the optimist, I thought maybe - just maybe – there was a lightbulb moment coming when she started sharing some transgender statistics, and recapped some transgender stories she saw chronicled on the Oprah Winfrey Network. This, I thought, would be where she learns some understanding and compassion by viewing the issue from outside her relationship. Sadly, it’s not to be. Instead, she goes right back to the self-pity party, saying the “man” she loved “may just as well have died all those years ago,” since “the person he became is at best a casual acquaintance, at worst a stranger I don’t want to know.”
Speaking of strangers I don’t want to know, you can count the author one of them.