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BOOK REVIEW: Tomorrow Will Be Different by Sarah McBride is a Trans Triumph

Sarah McBride Trans Tomorrow Will Be Different Book Review Memoir

Tomorrow Will be Different by Sarah McBride will set your heart on fire for the trans community – 5/5

“Tomorrow Will Be Different” by Sarah McBride it a touching (and at the same time, devastating) memoir about Sarah’s life from the moment she first came out as trans and into the present. In that span of time, she accomplished many things, including getting transgender people access to health care and prohibiting discrimination. But before Sarah came out to the world, she was the student body president at American University. Sarah had always been interested in politics, and her story starts pre-transition where we get to know her as a fearless and compassionate leader at university. We even learn that Sarah had been working on campaigns and giving speeches since she was very young. It was her early interest in politics that lead her to AU. And it was that very same interest that was also one that stood in the way of her being able to fully be herself. Sarah was worried — understandably so — that coming out as transgender would interfere with her future career as a politician.

“Fear of the unknown no longer stood in the way of completeness.”

This memoir was inspiring from start to finish. Throughout it, I cheered Sarah on her entire journey and as we learned more and more about the girl. She delved further into her career as a trans advocate readers get to see when as Sarah stands up and fights for the trans people of Delaware, pushing a bill to the senate that would protect trans people from being discriminated against at work. Sarah McBride was the trans leader people needed, she spoke for everyone in the community and did a great job doing it.

While Sarah is a wonderful activist and advocate, she is also a terrific writer. Each part of this memoir felt so real and true that it was almost as if I was living through the stories in its pages with her. I have to imagine that it was hard to write, as she put all her true feelings onto the page. As I read it, I felt that I really got to know Sarah as a person.

“We are fighting to be seen in our personhood, in our worth, in our love, and as ourselves.”

Sarah’s story had me captivated from the very beginning. Reading it was like watching someone I knew grow up and become successful. I felt pride for her in each turn of the page. And just as I was captivated by her stories of activism and advocacy, I was just as compelled by her love story. Sarah’s story with another player in the memoir named Andy — one that I wish would be included in more popular culture — is one of true love. Their story had to be the purest love story I had ever read. This only made it more heartbreaking when Andy began to get sick.

Like all other parts of the book, when Sarah began to speak about her experience losing Andy, it felt like I was right there beside her. I could easily place myself in the hospital room, surrounded by her friends and family. The loss of Andy affected me in a way I never thought a memoir death could. Sarah shares her honest feelings, and in doing that effectively captures her audience and makes us feel like we’re a part of something bigger. Sarah’s story inspires and compels its readers. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to read it and believe that reading her story truly bettered my own life.

Buy your copy here.

All-About-It BOOK REVIEW: Tomorrow Will Be Different by Sarah McBride is a Trans Triumph

BOOK REVIEW: People Like Us by Dana Mele Helps Normalize LGBTQ Characters

Book Review: People Like Us – 5/5 Stars

“People Like Us” by Dana Mele is a roller coaster ride from start to finish. The story begins with a headfirst dive into the lives of boarding school girls Kay, Brie, Tai, Maddy, and Tricia when it seems impossible to keep track of each of the different characters. At first, I had a hard time telling who was important and who I needed to remember. But down the road, I realized this was done intentionally and helped to submerge me further into the story. There isn’t any expository build-up, which might not normally not interest me. But it works incredibly well in this case, because by page three the girls find a body in a lake on their boarding school’s campus.

While I went in knowing that this was going to be a murder mystery, it was nothing like what I expected. From the back cover, we learn that our main character, Kay, is being harassed by a girl named Jessica Lane. I went into this book expected a scavenger hunt left behind by dead girl Jessica Lane — a la Hannah Baker of “13 Reasons Why” — but instead found myself in the midst of a true murder mystery. Good murder mysteries are hard to find in the world of young adult reading, but this one was well thought out. Each clue and new piece of evidence whirled the story forward, capturing me in its drama. I read a lot of murder mystery and find that I’m usually able to identify who the murderer is about halfway through the book. In “People Like Us”, I was unable to solve the mystery and often changed my opinions and ideas multiple times while trying to piece together the clues. Even within the last few pages, Mele continued to keep me guessing. Murder mysteries are often an epic climb to the climax of the final scene, leaving the reader to spend the entire novel waiting for the big finish. In the case of Mele’s novel, I enjoyed the journey and it more satisfying than the finale.

Mele does an amazing job of making the characters relatable and distinct. Each character seems to have their own unique story; they’re each struggling with something different from person-to-person, whether it be the loss of someone in their pasts, or their sexualities. The way Mele deals with sexuality is probably the best thing I’ve read all year, though. There are many bisexual and gay characters in “People Like Us” and it doesn’t feel like she’s trying to meet a quota. While I do greatly enjoy stories about LGBTQ characters and stories that are centered around their sexuality, I really, really love it when stories include gay characters without making the story about them being gay. Including gay characters in stories typically written with straight/cis characters (like murder mysteries) normalizes the inclusion of gay characters. Ultimately, doing this will lead to LGBTQ characters showing up in more places, like television, movies, and books. The more writers that do this, the more it will seem “normal” to have these characters around. I love nothing more than when I watch television or read a book and a character is LGBTQ. without it being a big deal. It reflects real life and normalizes LGBT people. We exist in real life; and we should exist in media, too.

Mele’s gay-inclusive murder mystery had me turning page after page until I reached the very end, only to leave me wanting more. More answers, more stories, more anything from Dana Mele.

Book Review: Less Than Butterflies

Less Than Butterflies, a collection of columns originally published here in About Magazine about the gay dating and sex life of About editor-in-chief Anthony Ramirez, is coming to bookstores August 31st, 2018.

(HOUSTON) – When Anthony Ramirez asked me a few days ago to review his book Less Than Butterflies, I was nervous. I like my reviews to reflect my true feelings towards a book, and I didn’t want to have to lie. Let’s face it, he’s my boss and writing a negative review about his book probably wouldn’t keep me in his good graces. So, before I had even started reading, I was nervous. I so badly wanted this book to be good. I hadn’t previously read any of the columns, so I didn’t know what to expect.

36322752_10208945521194725_2014757068220661760_o Book Review: Less Than Butterflies
Author Anthony Ramirez

The first chapter delighted me. But also, I was thankful. It was a ‘thank god this is good’ moment. Not that I expected any less from Anthony, but still, I was pleased. Less Than Butterflies is a compilation of Ramirez’s sex columns for About Magazine. Each chapter tells a story of Anthony struggling to find success in his own love life. He deals with countless different men and tells in great detail about all the problems he has with them.

“I just sleep with men until they start buying me things; and then I assume we’re a couple or they’ve assumed I’m a prostitute.”

It was comforting to read about another person’s sexual adventures. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out. Reading Less Than Butterflies made me feel less alone, in many different ways. It made me realize things about myself that I didn’t know needed realization. To find that in a book, is wonderful. Reading is something that brings people together, especially when it comes to books like these. Memoirs or collections or even biographies have a funny way of making us, as readers, feel united. Ramirez’s book is no different. He does a great job of bringing us along on each of his adventures, recalling events of sexual misfortune and substance abuse.

The narrative, while real and raw, is nothing short of hilarious. I read it and often found myself sitting alone in my room, laughing out loud. The tales that take place in this book are a fantastic keyhole view into a world that I didn’t know existed. Ramirez does a great job of setting the scenes for his life. Each detail and description had me imagining a new bar or a new street. Setting, I find, is extremely important in books like these, and the description does a great job of adding to the narrative while not taking away from it.

That being said, there are some very real parts in this book. I went into Less Than Butterflies expecting a good laugh. I didn’t expect the raw dynamic shift in storytelling that occurred at the halfway point. We watch as Ramirez traverses the gay sexual scene, where everything is hilarious and light. But then we get an insight into Anthony’s mind, delving deeper into his personality. He gives us stories that shaped him as a human being and content that a lot of people will relate too.

“The life that follows is one stained and tainted by something that can’t be simplified down to an ugly memory, because it’s so much more than that.”

Ramirez doesn’t shy away from any subject in this book. Less Than Butterflies was a book that made me feel less alone. It shed a light on Anthony as a person, and in doing so it made me realize that there are other people out there in this world that are going through the same things that I am. There are other people who sleep around and there are other people who deal with trauma and tragedy. And while Less Than Butterflies does a great job at making people laugh, it will also do a great job at making people think and making people feel.


You can pre-order your copy of Less Than Butterflies here.

You can RSVP to the release party at Guava Lamp in Houston on September 1st, 2018 here.

All-About-It Book Review: Less Than Butterflies

 

Book Review: The Scottish Bitch

The Scottish Bitch Drag LGBTQ Macbeth Jameson Tabard Book Review

The Scottish Bitch, by Jameson Tabard: 4/5 Stars

jtabard Book Review: The Scottish Bitch
Author Jameson Tabard.

The Scottish Bitch by Jameson Tabard is a modern drag queen retelling of the story of Macbeth. I never read Macbeth, but I know most of the story. I think that I enjoyed The Scottish Bitch more because I hadn’t read the original. It was like reading a new story. The characters were well thought-out and held true to the standards previously set by Shakespeare. It was easy to point out the connections to Macbeth. This novel is enjoyable as a stand-alone book, and doesn’t need to be compared to Macbeth to be great.

 

Everything in this novel is true to the story and eloquently written. The queens are described so I could visualize them while reading. Of course, because this is a retelling of an old story, the reader will know what’s going to happen while they’re reading. I didn’t find that to be bothersome. Even though I knew the outcome, I still enjoyed this fun read.

I found difficulty in deciding who to support. The narration is third person omniscient, so we know the thoughts and feelings of every character. This narration presents trouble when reading. I found, at times, that it was a bit much. I often found that I was reading things I didn’t need to know, or things that I shouldn’t have known yet. Because there are so many characters and we do get to see the world from their points of view, it’s hard to know who the main character is. The primary narrative follows Latrine Dion (Macbeth) in her pursuit to become Duchess in her drag queen circuit. Her husband and other queen’s perspectives interrupt Latrine’s journey. While I believe this distracted from the main storyline, I enjoyed discovering the other characters.

I struggled with the beginning of this book. Intrigue and a great hook were both absent at the start. It required some conscious effort to get through the first few chapters, but I’m glad I did. At around fifty pages, the plot begins to pick up. After this point, I couldn’t put the novel down. While it did take a few chapters to get me engaged, Tabard did a great job of keeping me engaged throughout the rest of the novel.

Tabard does a great job of setting the scene for us in Orlando, Florida. He describes the hotels, apartments, and cityscape well enough and I am transported there while reading. Every setting feels like a real place, and does a great job at pulling me further into the plot.

While the visual descriptions worked well, other portions of the novel were slow or an inconvenience to read. The few dreams sequences dragged on. I don’t think they moved the story along and I didn’t enjoy reading them. These portions were a few pages and occur two or three times throughout. Even though I didn’t enjoy reading them, they weren’t enough to make me put the story down.

Overall, I enjoyed The Scottish Bitch. With this novel, Tabard created a quick, fun read that was different from anything else I read before. I need and recommend more books like this one.Were-About-It-1 Book Review: The Scottish Bitch


Contributions to this article were made by About Magazine editorial assistant, Brandie Larsen.