Author: Jodie Patterson
Published: January 29, 2019
Publisher: Ballantine Books (THANK YOU!!!)
Where I picked up my book: Gifted from publisher
Key Words: non-fiction, LGBTQ+, diversity, family dynamics
My Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
As an African American growing up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 1970s, when neighborhoods defined people, Jodie Patterson learned early on to engage with her community for strength and comfort. But then in 2009 this mother of five had her world turned upside down. Realizing that her definition of community wasn’t wide enough for her own child’s needs, Patterson forced the world wide open.
In The Bold World, we witness a mother reshaping her attitudes and beliefs, as well as those of her community, to meet the needs of her transgender son, Penelope– and opening the minds of everyone in her family who absolutely, unequivocally refused to conform.
As we walk alongside Patterson on her journey, we meet the Southern women who came before her–the mother, grandmothers, and aunts who raised and fortified her, all the while challenging cultural norms and gender expectations. She shares her family’s history–particularly incidents within the Black community around sexism, racism, and civil rights. We learn about her children, who act as a vehicle for Jodie Patterson’s own growth and acceptance of her diverse family, and her experiences as a wife, mother, and, eventually, activist. The result is an intimate portrait and an exquisite study in identity, courage, and love. Patterson’s relentless drive to change the world will resonate with and inspire us all, reflecting our own individual strength and tenacity, our very real fears, and, most of all, our singular ability to transform despite the odds.
This book tackles so many things-from race, to gender, to parenting, to motherhood, to diversity, to living black in this world, to feminism…it touches on all of these ideas, and more, without being overwhelming or scattered. Instead, it beautifully shows what living in a society that isn’t necessarily set up for you, is like. The first half of the book focuses of Jodie’s life and what foundation was set for her to stand upon. She talks about past relationships, what struggles occur for black families and people of color in this world, her relationship with her father, her jobs, the strong, black women that came before her, and how she grew up and became who she is today. It wasn’t an A to B to C sort of life she led (or leads for that matter) and that is beautifully made obvious for the reader. This made her feel relatable-she showed her truth and it was powerful.
The second half of the book is where Jodie focuses on her relationship with her child Penelope and what it is like to raise a child that is transgendered in this world, raise a family with a member that is transgender, and raise a world that loves our differences. I felt a deep sense of determination while reading this book. A determination to make this world a better place for every person living in it. A determination to have every child feel loved and honored and welcomed in this world, BECAUSE of their differences, not despite of them.
Here’s where this book felt personal to me: In a nutshell, my parents couldn’t accept the fact that their child was gay. They stopped speaking to me the day I came out to them, and it has been the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to deal with in my life so far. This book showed me what it would have been like to have a mother that fought as hard as humanly possible for their child in a world that might not always be accepting. It showed me what it would have been like to have a father that, although he had a lot of questions and may have not felt completely comfortable with this new life that fell into his lap, was ready to put in the work and do his damn best for his child and family. It showed me what it would have been like to have siblings that acknowledge you for what you are, and love you unconditionally. It was the parenting that I could only have hoped for, and just because it didn’t happen in my life, it brought me SO SO much joy and happiness that it does for some others. If we can just spread this way of understanding and truly be an accepting, loving and supportive society to every member-we are 100% guaranteed to live in a better world.
I would highly recommend this book. It’s an important read and exactly what this world needs more of.