Review: Becoming Nicole

Considering I come from a very conservative and religious family, transgender was not a word I heard at home. Until recently, it was not something I was familiar with, and even a week ago I only had a vague idea of what being transgender meant. Then I read, Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family.

Becoming Nicole

The inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family’s extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all, from the Pulitzer Prize–winning science reporter for The Washington Post

When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But it wasn’t long before they noticed a marked difference between Jonas and his brother, Wyatt. Jonas preferred sports and trucks and many of the things little boys were “supposed” to like; but Wyatt liked princess dolls and dress-up and playing Little Mermaid. By the time the twins were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, to accept and embrace Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and to undergo an emotionally wrenching transformation of their own that would change all their lives forever.

Becoming Nicole chronicles a journey that could have destroyed a family but instead brought it closer together. It’s the story of a mother whose instincts told her that her child needed love and acceptance, not ostracism and disapproval; of a Republican, Air Force veteran father who overcame his deepest fears to become a vocal advocate for trans rights; of a loving brother who bravely stuck up for his twin sister; and of a town forced to confront its prejudices, a school compelled to rewrite its rules, and a courageous community of transgender activists determined to make their voices heard. Ultimately,Becoming Nicole is the story of an extraordinary girl who fought for the right to be herself.

Granted wide-ranging access to personal diaries, home videos, clinical journals, legal documents, medical records, and the Maineses themselves, Amy Ellis Nutt spent almost four years reporting this immersive account of an American family confronting an issue that is at the center of today’s cultural debate. Becoming Nicole will resonate with anyone who’s ever raised a child, felt at odds with society’s conventions and norms, or had to embrace life when it plays out unexpectedly. It’s a story of standing up for your beliefs and yourself—and it will inspire all of us to do the same.

Length: 304 Pages

Publisher: Random House

Release Date: October 20, 2015

About the Author:

Amy Ellis Nutt

Amy Ellis Nutt is a science writer at The Washington Post. In 2011 she won the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing while working at The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J. Before that she was a reporter at Sports Illustrated for 9 years. She is a graduate of Smith College and has Masters degrees in Philosophy from M.I.T. and journalism from Columbia University. In 2004-2005 she was a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University and has taught at Columbia and Princeton universities. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Review:

I am so grateful I have had the opportunity to read, Becoming Nicole. What a powerful book.

Strengths:

There are so many, I hardly know where to begin, nor how to describe how this book touched me. As I mentioned before, I didn’t know much about what being transgender meant before this book. Amy Ellis Nutt did a beautiful job in educating me. Ranging from the personal story of little Wyatt, who grew up to be Nicole, to the biological and scientific aspects of what being transgender means, I am now more empathetic, understanding, and informed on what being transgender really means.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is that it doesn’t only tell Nicole’s story, but the story of her family as well: Her courageous mother, her hesitant father, and her passive twin brother. We catch a glimpse of their hardships as they fight for Nicole’s rights, as well as their successes. Not only this, but we also get into the hearts and mind of everyone involved with Nicole, including her supportive school counselor.

Weaknesses:

The only thing I wished was different was that the beginning was a bit slow for me. It went into quite a bit of detail on Nicole’s parents’ background, and I wish it would have skipped some of the details that I didn’t find pertinent.

Overall Review:

As I mentioned before, this was a beautifully written book. It was so personal, that it made me want to reach through the pages and give Nicole and her family a hug. I strongly suggest everyone, no matter their religious or political background, read this book. After reading it, no one will be able to deny that a person is a person. No matter what labels we place on someone, they are still a human being who needs love, compassion, and empathy.

I have rated Becoming Nicole, 5 out of 5 stars.

Content:

Language: There is no vulgarity, though there is specific reference to genitalia. This is done appropriately, however, and I did not find it offensive. It was referred to in conjunction with the surgeries that would occur, as well as the scientific portions of the book.

Violence: None

Sexual: None

Availability:

Becoming Nicole is available both as hardcover, and digitally. You can order it from Amazon here.

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