Monday, February 8, 2016

His Name Is Rebecca by Rebecca De Havalland

Gender dysphoria and sexual abuse appear to have been at the roots of the dysfunction described in author, Rebecca De Havalland’s memoir, “His Name Is Rebecca.” This is a book about a person who suffered sexual abuse as a child with severe emotional issues resulting, all in a context of gender variance. These events and issues lead to a life of broken relationships, drug and alcohol addiction, despair and, we hope, eventual recovery. Although sex change features prominently in this story about a life that covers the better part of six decades, for this reader, gender transition was not the main focal point. The author, a person who achieved a modicum of fame during the latter decades of the 20th century, was a hairstylist and also ran modeling agencies in England and Ireland. However, she was seemingly more often known for a notoriety fueled by her drug and alcohol-related exploits.

This book about the author’s life depicts extreme contrasts. There is drinking, drugs and a myriad of relapses and recoveries. The author hits bottom and just when you think that this is as low as she can go, she plunges even lower. There are an assortment of physical ailments such as broken bones, failure of heart, liver and other major organs. There is healing and lots of help from friends, resulting in near-miraculous “nine lives” recoveries. Work enterprises galore are begun, fail and then fall by the way side. Stacks of money are made, burned through and/or lost. There are lovers and friends galore. The cycle repeats itself constantly. There is the death of a lover, a dysfunctional family, loss of a child through divorce and then the ultimate and moving reunion and eventual business partnership with that child. This is an interesting, painfully honest and self-analytical memoir. It is also a cautionary tale and well worth the read.

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