Book Reviews March 2020

1. Once a Girl, Always a Boy by Jo Ivester

Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a family memoir of a trans man written by his mom. The memoir consists of small, digestible chunks of narration by Jeremy (whose story the book is based on), his mom, his dad, and his other family members. The narrations are like diary entries. The timeline of the memoir is from Jeremy’s birth to the year 2019 when he as well as his parents are active advocates of the transgender community, engaged in creating equal opportunity for trans people and raising their voice against transphobic laws.

As mentioned in the preface, Jeremy is referred by his birth name in the memoir up to the point when he comes out and asks everyone to call him by his new name and pronouns. I personally don’t like this approach where a trans person is referred to by their dead name even when talking about their past but as long as the person concerned is fine with it, then it’s all cool. And in this case, I think in a way it is helpful for people who are not much aware of trans people to understand the experiences of a trans person and not just blatantly disregard trans stories. However, readers need to keep in mind that not all trans stories are alike. Trans people can figure out their gender identity and choose to come out at any age. Some are clear about it from childhood, while some others figure it out much later in life. Experiences differ. The transition process differs. Even feelings of dysphoria might differ from one person to another. 

The smooth chronological flow of the story makes it a must-read for everyone especially parents and family members of trans kids. It’s comforting to see a family talking about their journey of acceptance. The stories of acceptance are always so warm. Here we even get to see the parents’ perspectives and emotions shift as they slowly try to understand and accept their transgender son. 

Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced reading copy.

2. Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future by Ashlee Vance

I have been fascinated by Elon Musk for quite some time now. It’s inspiring to say the least how he manages SpaceX and Tesla full time while dabbling in other projects like SolarCity and the Boring Company. His vision of settling a colony on Mars is grand and something to keep the dreamer in each one of us alive. His other visions that have more or less turned or are turning into a reality are equally magnificent. He is at the forefront of technology in all the fields which make life better in one or the other way- be it electric cars, solar energy, high-speed hyperloop transportation, Starlink internet. Musk has become synonymous with turning fiction into reality. 

Vance presents a detailed biography of Musk as well as his companies – from Zip2 and Paypal to Tesla and SpaceX. My key take away from the book is Musk’s work ethic. Yes, it is not an ideal work-life balance that we all crave for but when you are passionate about your dreams you have to do all that needs to be done.

I would suggest this book to anyone interested in knowing more about either Musk or the companies that he has built. Or even someone who seeks inspiration from Musk to fulfill their own dreams.

3. No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai

I didn’t enjoy this novel. The protagonist here is a man who from a young age acts like a clown and finds it hard to understand others. He feels as if he’s not worthy of being called a human. When he starts to live away from home to go to college, he falls into bad influences, slowly becoming addicted to alcohol and ruining his life.


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