What We Will Become: A Mother, a Son, and a Journey of Transformation

Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9780544965836. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780544965867. SOC SCI
Raised in an ultra-Orthodox family, debut author Lemay struggled to reconcile the restrictions on daily life and women in general. Upon entering college in Boston, she gradually left her community and adapted to her new world. She later married a Catholic and raised three children. One of their offspring, Em, assigned female at birth, also embarked on a journey of transformation as Em increasingly identified as a boy. Stories are told in alternating chapters, and it’s an effective technique as Lemay describes how a multigenerational family adjusts to parents’ hopes and dreams for their children. Lemay shares difficult conversations with her mother about her growing discomfort with the strict rules of their faith community, then conveys her angst with her own child, who is struggling with gender identity. In each instance, parents are worried about the happiness and security of their children in a world they did not envision. Lemay’s writing is superb—the family stories at once heartbreaking and inspiring.
VERDICT This is a vital and engrossing book about how to live an authentic life. Well suited for readers interested in gender and generational family dynamics.

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