The Last Time I Wore a Dress

Daphne Scholinski, Author, Jane Meredith Adams, With Riverhead Books $23.95 (211p) ISBN 978-1-57322-077-4
A singular story is given a muddled and rather mundane treatment in Scholinski's account of her adolescence spent in and out of various mental institutions. Scholinski was originally institutionalized for reckless teenage behavior, ranging from petty crime to violent outbursts and drug and alcohol use. But whatever the behavior, the cause is always determined to be her alleged Gender Disorder, or inability to behave like an ""appropriate female."" Scholinski is aware that she is different but she has no desire to act like a ""normal girl,"" and learns to fake other problems such as anorexia or drug addiction to deflect attention from what is labeled her ""sexual problem."" Amazingly enough, Scholinski always keeps her head above the water and seems to have been aware from the start that her behavior was a reaction to being treated badly. While there is no doubt that her father's physical abuse and mother's neglect shaped Scholinski's behavior, the juxtaposition of their personal stories (father, a Vietnam veteran; mother, married too young, etc.) takes away from the complexity and depth of Scholinski's unique struggles. In the final chapter, Scholinski emerges as an adult, living successfully as a visual artist in a lesbian relationship. Given the record of the treatment she received at the hands of psychiatrists, readers will find the final criticisms redundant. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 978-1-57322-704-9
Paperback - 211 pages - 978-1-57322-696-7
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