cover image Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders

Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders

Jennifer Finney Boylan. Crown, $24 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7679-2176-3

In a mixed-bag follow-up memoir to her previous account of transitioning from male to female (She’s Not There), Boylan, who teaches writing at Colby College, Maine, enlists different perspectives by writers and others to explore in depth how parenting involves much more than birthing. Married to Deirdre “Deedee” Finney Boylan for 25 years, with two biological sons now college age, Boylan records in engaging short narratives her complicated process of evolving as a parent, from being a father (“Jim”) for six years, a mother for 10, and throughout embracing a “flexible” and “openhearted” approach that has proven remarkably successful and long-lasting. Boylan writes honestly about the enormous toll her transitioning took on the family, the sense of “loss” they all suffered when she became a woman in 2000, the anxieties she and Deedee felt over the children’s reaction to public censure, dread that the kids harbored their own dark secrets, and annoyance at other’s people’s inability to use the right pronoun. Moreover, several notable writers contribute chapters about subjects such as fatherhood (Richard Russo), being a misfit (Edward Albee), and motherhood (Ann Beattie). The jumble of voices closes with a surprisingly hard-hitting interview of the author and partner by novelist Anna Quindlen, who asked Deedee: “When you look at Jenny, do you ever see Jim?” Agent: Kris Dahl, ICM. (Apr.)