The Light of the World, A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander


The Light of the World
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The book jacket states that Alexander writes “a lyrical celebration of a life well-lived.”  This is so true.  She beautifully illustrates the love she and her husband shared and the life they made together.  She also tells stories about her husband Ficre’s life (he was from Eritrea, in the Horn of Africa) as a chef and a painter.  Sadly, her husband died unexpectedly.  The story continues as she and her two sons slowly but surely make their way from grief to light.  The book is beautifully written and a fitting tribute to a wonderful and talented man.

Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of the New Yorker by Thomas Kunkel

Man in Profile
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This is a biography of one of the most famous staff writers for the New Yorker Magazine.  Mitchell, from small-town North Carolina, was drawn to a writing career and landed in New York as a journalist.  He quickly became noticed by the New Yorker, and joined the staff in the heyday of the magazine.  The New Yorker featured the most notable writers of the day —  James Thurber, E. B. White, A. J. Liebling, Dorothy Parker, John Hersey…the list goes on and on.

Mitchell was interested in the characters in New York who made the City tick — bartenders, fishermen, eccentric characters, tug boat captains.  He is credited with raising journalism into the realm of literary art.  There were controversies along the way, and toward the end of his life, a stunning mystery.

Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews

Some Assembly Required
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If and when my library teens want to discuss what is going on in their lives, they know I am available as a sounding board, a shoulder to cry on, or as a resource for finding agencies that can provide further help.  Some of my teens have come to me while they were in the process of coming out and/or transitioning.  Thankfully, there are brave young people like Arin Andrews who are willing to share their own stories so that transgender and cisgender people can better understand both the obstacles transgender people face and the resources that are available to them as they decide how they would like to move forward with their lives.

I thought Arin did a great job of explaining the process of [female to male] transitioning both simply and thoroughly; the fact that he managed to do so without being didactic was very impressive!  Though Arin’s transition involved both hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery, he was careful to explain that there are many people who opt to transition differently and that all choices are valid.  I was especially grateful for Arin’s candor about dating and sex, since I am sure many people are curious about how that all “works,” when one or more of the people in the relationship is transgendered.  I think this book would be an excellent resource for someone who is preparing for or struggling with his/her own transition, but I also think it is an important book to share with cisgender teens.  As a woman who feels perfectly at home in the body into which she was born, it has taken years of conversations with transgendered teens to even begin to fully appreciate their struggle.  I can only hope that the open sharing of stories like Arin’s will help future generations to be more understanding and empathetic and that the struggle for trans rights will soon become a part of history.