Friday, January 1, 2016

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

"Four teenagers are on the verge of exploding. The anxieties they face at every turn have nearly pushed them to the point of surrender: senseless high-stakes testing, the lingering damage of past trauma, the buried grief and guilt of tragic loss. They are desperate to cope, but no one is listening.

So they will lie. They will split in two. They will turn inside out. They will even build an invisible helicopter to fly themselves far away...but nothing releases the pressure. Because, as they discover, the only way to truly escape their world is to fly right into it.

The genius of acclaimed author A.S. King reaches new heights in this groundbreaking work of surrealist fiction; it will mesmerize readers with its deeply affecting exploration of how we crawl through traumatic experience-and find the way out."

Author, A.S. King

I started and finished I Crawl Through It by A.S. King within the span of a couple days. I found the characters all uniquely intriguing and I felt guilty every time I had to close the book to focus on something else (or sleep). The lives these characters lead every day are not contrived or redundant - I guarantee you've never met China before, the walking stomach who swallowed herself. But you'll love her - even when she's a walking tongue or rectum.

I Crawl Through It is sad, happy, weird and wonderful. And, of the three A.S. King books I've read, this is by far my favorite. I'd highly recommend this book to all for an entertaining read that'll leave you with that feeling of having made a new friend - or six.

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King on Amazon

Friday, October 9, 2015

Finding Masculinity by Alexander Walker and Emmett J.P. Lundberg

Finding Masculinity by co-editors Alexander Walker and Emmett J.P. Lundberg is a collection of short autobiographical essays on various topics relating to transitioning to male after being born and socialized as female.

The foreword speaks whole-heartedly of what great things can be gained from what can be a very challenging and difficult time for a transitioning person. "Transition taught me introspection and self-awareness, to honor the truths that live inside of me, and to recognize my fears and still leap." But the process itself, including the years of living as female prior to transition, can be extremely difficult. Even post-transition there are challenges. The first account is that of Harvey Katz. He explains:

"I have always existed as a whole but my life has been fractured into a schizophrenic retelling. When you're trans, to the people around you there will always be two lives: the one that you live, and the one that you lived."
Co-Editor, Emmett J.P. Lundberg
I hadn't previously thought of it, but one account in the book mentions how after they transitioned, Facebook friends would still tag old photos of them when they presented and/or identified as female which felt like an invalidation of who they knew themselves to be. It's hard to live a new life when the old one keeps bubbling up, perhaps "outing" you to people who wouldn't otherwise have known you were transgender.

Co-Editor, Alexander Walker
As I read this book on my kindle, I highlighted more sentences, phrases and paragraphs than I have in any other book. I found it humbling and amazing and exciting to be in the shoes of these brave men who have a life experience few of us can relate to. Mothers-turned-fathers, coworker/employer issues (and joys!), family turbulance (and joys!), church issues (and joys!), relationships etc. etc. etc. If there's anything you'll learn from this book it's that though each of its contributors was born female and transitioned to male, none of their stories are the same. They each struggled in their own ways, in their own groups and with different issues. They all have different backgrounds and interests. At their core, they're each incredibly inspiring men with touching stories we all could learn from.

Because I really want to share my six pages of highlights from the book, but because I also realize you have other things to do, I'll share just a few and trust you'll get your hands on a copy soon to experience the stories yourself. See my selections at the bottom of this post.

I would highly recommend this read. Finding Masculinity is perhaps one of the most genuine collective accounts of the human experience available. It's full of raw emotions, real people with real struggles and experiences who share in order to help others and inform the world around them. I'm pretty sure this book is full of heroes - at least that's how I see them.

You can borrow Finding Masculinity from a library near you or purchase it from Amazon.

I understand the urgency felt by many trans folks to get this transition phase over with, for the fuzz of dysphoria to fade and for the reflection in the mirror to match the self-image. For me, I also found it important to recognize, honor, and treasure all the moments, the cringe-worthy and the affirming, during this heightened time of change.
- Nick Krieger

They also reassured me that my daughter would love me no matter what, and that for me to be the best parent I could be to her, first I needed to be happy. These fears stuck with me, but I knew that if I was going to be a stable parent I needed to be myself authentically.
- Gabe Pelz

It’s so easy to feel excited about living when your life feels like your own. After you’ve been trying for so long to make a square peg fit into a round hole, it’s utter liberation.
- Rae Larson

I knew without a doubt that my family loved me, but you can love someone and hurt them at the same time.
- Dylan Farnsworth

Despite being in a relationship, I knew I would never feel completely satisfied because something was missing in all my relationships: me.
- Ian Carter

By becoming an authentic version of themselves they were able to find a sense of inner peace that allowed them to and develop a happier sense of self.
-Editors Alexander Walker and Emmett J.P. Lundberg

It would be so much easier if I were born with the gender that my brain was configured with from the beginning, but I would have missed out on a perspective that has helped shape who I am today. I will always be happier that my story is a little different than the majority of folks.
- Will Krisanda

Through this process transitioning in the mental health field, I’ve come to learn to not be proud of what I do or earn for a living, but to be proud of my ability to overcome the darkest hours in my life and turn them into a beacon of light for someone else who is suffering.
- Ian Carter

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz was my second A.S. King novel. I had first read Everbody Sees the Ants and really appreciated the unique psychological element that came with the character's narration. Vera was no different. Though rather than having visions of ants here and there influencing your thoughts and actions, Vera saw Charlies. Thousands of Charlies. Charlie was (and is?) Vera's best friend. It had been that way for as long as either of them could remember. But with high school, drugs, alcohol and sex getting in the way they went different directions but maintained an unspoken dedication to one another.

Author, A.S. King
When Charlie dies and is blamed for arson, Vera is overwhelmed with guilt. Her major case of the coulda-woulda-shoulda's is silenced, however, by an upbringing that taught her to bottle it up and fly under the radar. No matter what she encounters she holds onto it which sometimes threatens her safety and causes her dad to further doubt her sense of responsibility.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a young adult novel that accurately portrays the struggles of friendship, community and loss. I felt the greatest lesson to be learned in the novel was to talk about things with those you love and trust and develop a sense of community. If you witness something bad, consider what would happen if you did nothing about it. Consider the lives that could be affected outside of your own. Just because you can walk or drive away from something safely doesn't mean the next person will be so lucky.

Read along and experience the story of Vera as she comes to terms with the past, the present and the future. Watch her develop a sense of responsibility and self-respect as she comes to terms with the loss of Charlie and begins to understand her dad better.

You can borrow Please Ignore Vera Dietz from your local library or purchase it from Amazon.