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The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation

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Inspired by her transgender son, activist Jodie Patterson explores identity, gender, race, and authenticity to tell the real-life story of a family's history and transformation. ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE WEEK--USA TODAY AND NEW YORK POST - "A courageous and poetic testimony on family and the self, and the learning and unlearning we must do for those we love."--Janet Inspired by her transgender son, activist Jodie Patterson explores identity, gender, race, and authenticity to tell the real-life story of a family's history and transformation. ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE WEEK--USA TODAY AND NEW YORK POST - "A courageous and poetic testimony on family and the self, and the learning and unlearning we must do for those we love."--Janet Mock 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. Praise for The Bold World "In The Bold World, Jodie Patterson makes a case for respecting everyone's gender identity by way of showing how she came to accept her son, Penelope. In tying that struggle to the struggle for race rights in this country during her own childhood, she paints a vivid picture of the permanent work of social justice."--Andrew Solomon, bestselling author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree


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Inspired by her transgender son, activist Jodie Patterson explores identity, gender, race, and authenticity to tell the real-life story of a family's history and transformation. ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE WEEK--USA TODAY AND NEW YORK POST - "A courageous and poetic testimony on family and the self, and the learning and unlearning we must do for those we love."--Janet Inspired by her transgender son, activist Jodie Patterson explores identity, gender, race, and authenticity to tell the real-life story of a family's history and transformation. ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE WEEK--USA TODAY AND NEW YORK POST - "A courageous and poetic testimony on family and the self, and the learning and unlearning we must do for those we love."--Janet Mock 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. Praise for The Bold World "In The Bold World, Jodie Patterson makes a case for respecting everyone's gender identity by way of showing how she came to accept her son, Penelope. In tying that struggle to the struggle for race rights in this country during her own childhood, she paints a vivid picture of the permanent work of social justice."--Andrew Solomon, bestselling author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree

30 review for The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Isaiah

    To see more reviews check out MI Book Reviews. I got an ARC of this book. I went into this book with a bit of apprehension because of the name Penelope being used and then the book being about a trans person, but not by the trans person. I was blown out of the water though. This book is so much more than I ever expected and addressed my issues and then some. So If you were on the fence about this book, let me convince you you need to read it as soon as you can get a copy. First, Penelope is the To see more reviews check out MI Book Reviews. I got an ARC of this book. I went into this book with a bit of apprehension because of the name Penelope being used and then the book being about a trans person, but not by the trans person. I was blown out of the water though. This book is so much more than I ever expected and addressed my issues and then some. So If you were on the fence about this book, let me convince you you need to read it as soon as you can get a copy. First, Penelope is the name that Penelope wants. At no point has this wonderful young person asked for a different name. Patterson makes it more than clear that the family would do everything they could to support him. There was even a wonderful section about passing and what that means to a black person. That was an insight that is often not brought up when passing is brought up in trans spaces. Instead there is the fight over if passing makes you more or less trans, if passing should be something anyone aims for, and then the ever present judgement of levels of passing. I am pretty sick of the infighting when it comes to the idea of passing, Patterson puts some of my ideas into words that are much more poetic than I could have managed on my own. We need to let people live their lives the way they want to. Penelope keeping his name does no one else harm. If you can’t get behind someone having the strength, courage, and determination to live their truth, then please walk away. Your negativity is not helpful and attacking someone you don’t agree with will not change their mind or their soul. Learn to express love and strength. Learn to speak up for yourself. Learn to support others. Second, this book really is really more about Patterson and how gender has shaped her life. The book does feature her trans son and her other children. While the book seems to be more marketed as a memoir of a trans parent. It comes across more of a memoir of a strong woman coming to terms with gender itself. She was confronted with very strict gender roles and expectations as a child. The way her parents interacted, the way she was allowed to exist was so deeply trenched in gender roles and gender norms. Something that didn’t seem to really be on her radar at the time, though she had some thoughts and some ideas. The more that Patterson examines her own idea of how gender has impacted her life, the more support and love she seems to be able to have for all of her family. She learns through supporting her children that her husband needed more time to process things. That she had to be willing to listen to opinions of people, even when they weren’t as caught up to things as she was. I am beyond in love with this book. Patterson talks about the intersection of race and gender, specifically being black and being female. This is heavily examined throughout the book. I was all for it. There was so much I wanted to ask, so much I wanted to learn. I am thankful that Patterson wrote this book and gave an insight into her life. Near the end of the book, Patterson even starts to analyze what it means to be black and trans. That was something that is often missing in trans discourse. A great deal of the research is done on white people. The great deal of the dialogue that is easily accessible is by white people. This is changing to be more representative of the real world, Patterson offers one explanation at why this change is taking longer than a great deal of us want. It is not the only explanation and like a lot of Patterson’s explanations, there is room for more and other explanations to play together and compliment her ideas. It makes sense that variant genders and expressions are hidden away by a group that is often over scrutinized and attacked for any form a deviance (even when that deviance is just literally existing) by outside groups. Patterson is awe inspiring. She is strong. She is powerful. She is intelligent. She is flawed. She is human. She is exactly the sort of person that I dreamed I would have as a mother. She supports and loves her kids. She does this with a level of intensity that I just can’t imagine. So many of my trans friends have lost their families and have been abandoned. Seeing a mother that is so deeply there for her child made me cry more than once while reading this book. Patterson is a hero in my eyes. She has gone above and beyond to help all of her children and is willing to own up to her mistakes. She works hard to better herself and better the world for everyone. I am only slightly joking when I say that if Patterson offered to adopt me, I would say yes without a second thought. This book is deep, it is moving. It is exactly what I needed. I needed to see that the world is changing for the better for trans kids. That my experiences are becoming less and less common. That there are kids out there that will not be fighting tooth and nail just to stay alive, despite being trans. Instead they will be living and thriving while being trans. It is such a remarkable difference and one that I am truly blessed to see happening in my life time. I am tearing up again, just thinking about how much good Patterson has done in such a short time of being an ally to her son. I wish her and her family the best. I hope they continue to do amazing things in the world and I am thankful for the things they have already accomplished.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bookishfolk

    This book is exactly what the world needs more of.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michaela

    Michaela: ---Full disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. --- Dnf late in ch. 2, at ~45 pages. Patterson clearly has decent skills w/ language, but maybe not in story-telling. At this point I should give a damn about at least one person in this book. Throughout the opening I was flip-flopping on caring, but it turned into a litany of, "My Dad was like this: ....., my Mom was like this...., my sister was like this...., & then I went to college." She grew up privileged, w/ Michaela: ---Full disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. --- Dnf late in ch. 2, at ~45 pages. Patterson clearly has decent skills w/ language, but maybe not in story-telling. At this point I should give a damn about at least one person in this book. Throughout the opening I was flip-flopping on caring, but it turned into a litany of, "My Dad was like this: ....., my Mom was like this...., my sister was like this...., & then I went to college." She grew up privileged, w/ means & access to which I can not relate. At some point she decided it'd be a good idea to have a career, a marriage, & 5 freaking kids, but oh my gosh that turned out to be really hard. Shocker...........or not. Yeah, so I am moving on to other books b/c I have no sympathy for a single character in here. There may be a story in here somewhere, but it will take someone else to make it breathe. I'll put the book into the Free Little Library & let someone else have a go at it, though.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tonstant Weader

    The Bold World is described as a memoir about raising a trans child, but it is far more than that. Author Jodie Patterson’s youth, education, and early years didn’t happen as a prelude to parenting her child, that is not how life works. Her story had meaning and value before she became a trans parent. That she was raised to be bold, even when she didn’t feel bold, would have served her well in any circumstance, but sure was useful when her three-year-old informed her that he was a boy. In an The Bold World is described as a memoir about raising a trans child, but it is far more than that. Author Jodie Patterson’s youth, education, and early years didn’t happen as a prelude to parenting her child, that is not how life works. Her story had meaning and value before she became a trans parent. That she was raised to be bold, even when she didn’t feel bold, would have served her well in any circumstance, but sure was useful when her three-year-old informed her that he was a boy. In an amazing and revelatory exchange, Penelope says, “Everyone thinks I’m a girl, Mama–and I’m not.” Personally, I was impressed with Patterson’s response. “However you feel is fine. It’s what’s inside that counts.” And here is where this little three-year-old drops the mic. “I don’t feel like a boy, Mama. I am a boy.” That this happens more than halfway through the book reflects that Patterson lived a full life. She comes from a long line of strong women. Her father was a force of nature. The family lived a life always aware of their own Blackness and their responsibility to the Black community, of activism and empowerment. For example, her father would only pay for her to go to a Black college. He and her mother fostered a woman who knew to be bold even if she didn’t know what she needed to be bold for. Of course, her father’s support of her bold self-determination was limited by his deep belief in traditional gender roles. Patterson reacted pretty well to Penelope’s announcement. She approached it like any overachiever, researching everything and ready to tear apart anything and anyone in the way of her son’s happiness, but she had four other children and a husband. Learning balance was important, giving them room to support Penelope was also important. It all mattered. I often start a new book as I approach the last quarter of the book I am reading. I will read a chapter, maybe two. I like knowing what is coming, I guess. Rarely, almost never, that book will grab me and hang on until I finish it, even when there is only a little bit left to finish something else. That’s what happened with The Bold World. Actually, it’s worse than that. I opened it about 1:00 a.m. thinking I will read a few pages and go to sleep. I finished it before I fell asleep sometime in the wee hours. I loved this memoir. Patterson never uses the word international, but her life centers at the axes where the different valences of oppression intersect. She is raised steeped in the history of the Civil Rights Movement and African-American arts and culture. Gil Scott-Heron wasn’t just an inspiration but an “uncle.” Feminism also becomes central to her life with her father’s expectation that she be content with an M.R.S., not an M.A. Likewise, the self-imposed expectation of bearing all the domestic obligations, including childrearing. Not that the men in her life objected to her doing all the work! However, imperfectly she navigated these barriers, she became an unstoppable force when she discovered she had a three-year-old boy who needed her to forge a path for him in a world that is constantly defining normal as more than a dryer setting. I received an e-galley of The Bold World from the publisher through NetGalley The Bold World at Ballantine | Penguin Random House Jodie Patterson – author site and blog ★★★★★ https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpre...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    “We are who we are not because of the body, but because of the soul” I went into this book not knowing much about Jodie Patterson, and assuming the focus of the book would be mostly about her transgender son. But this book was so much more than that - this is Jodie’s story. She lays it’s all out: her fascinating, non-stop, dynamic, full life. Her upbringing in New York, her days at Spelman College, becoming a mother to 5 kids, and becoming an advocate. Always changing and adapting. This book isn’ “We are who we are not because of the body, but because of the soul” 💚 I went into this book not knowing much about Jodie Patterson, and assuming the focus of the book would be mostly about her transgender son. But this book was so much more than that - this is Jodie’s story. She lays it’s all out: her fascinating, non-stop, dynamic, full life. Her upbringing in New York, her days at Spelman College, becoming a mother to 5 kids, and becoming an advocate. Always changing and adapting. 💛 This book isn’t necessarily a page turner, as some of my favorite memoirs are, but I still very much enjoyed reading about Jodie’s journey and learning about her family.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emi Bevacqua

    Like its author Jodie Patterson, this book is small but has a lot going on inside it. Some great advice on how to raise a strong black family, how to value and celebrate marriage-merging of cultures, and how to instill confidence in a transgender child. Also an interesting and honest look at difficulties the author faced in both her marriages and variegated career; and finally her transformation from a young mom running a beauty business who exaggerates gender norms in her early parenting Like its author Jodie Patterson, this book is small but has a lot going on inside it. Some great advice on how to raise a strong black family, how to value and celebrate marriage-merging of cultures, and how to instill confidence in a transgender child. Also an interesting and honest look at difficulties the author faced in both her marriages and variegated career; and finally her transformation from a young mom running a beauty business who exaggerates gender norms in her early parenting ("pretty girl" "pretty girl" "pink and purple" "pink tutu" "head-to-toe pink" "plastic dress-up high heels" "hyper-boy, tough-boy, assertive-boy") into a champion advocating for transgender rights for her fifth child. I read about this family's general parenting methods with a grain of salt, massaging children's limbs at night to relax them into sleep, singing them songs in the morning to make those first moments of being awake a little less disorienting? This description of a mom's love for her daughter: "I loved her fiercely, and I felt for her with the passion of a possessive lover". Also, sleeping 3 hours a night, and working 12 hr days? Yikes. I found the adoption of the full-grown teenager who already had his own mom and grandmother rather vague, and at times the name-dropping got unwieldy, like when she allowed Madonna's friend to watch her kids get naked and bathe. Evenso I'll admit this is a fascinating read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karen Ashmore

    Jodie Patterson describes her family’s struggles in the civil rights movement as an upper middle class Black family. She explores her life as a Black woman. But nothing compares to their struggle as a trans family. Their daughter Penelope insists he is a boy at an early age. This memoir follows their family’s struggle and growth as they learn to accept his gender identity. An honest and meaningful story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Claritybear

    Incredible memoir. I read it on Netgalley and I can’t wait to buy it for our library. Tackling everything from race and gender to parenting and being a strong woman-her writing is engaging and powerful and I had my eyes opened to all sorts of new perspectives. Very grateful to have come across it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeimy

    I liked this memoir, but I cannot pinpoint why.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kayo

    Sweet book. So much love. Thanks to author,publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free,it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This is such an important read!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Megan Byrd

    In this memoir, Jodie talks about the influence of her family growing up and learning what it meant to be black and a woman. She was influenced by cultural norms and had to fight through some of them to become who she wanted to be. She acquired strength and determination through the examples of the women in her life who fought for racial equality in a number of ways. She also talks a lot about motherhood and her different experiences and growing pains in raising her kids and having a blended In this memoir, Jodie talks about the influence of her family growing up and learning what it meant to be black and a woman. She was influenced by cultural norms and had to fight through some of them to become who she wanted to be. She acquired strength and determination through the examples of the women in her life who fought for racial equality in a number of ways. She also talks a lot about motherhood and her different experiences and growing pains in raising her kids and having a blended family. She shares openly about her struggles and growth with raising a transgendered child. She pulls together some parallels between growing up with a rebellious sister who took most of her parent's attention and the energy and attention required to help her son navigate an unfriendly world. I appreciated learning about her life experiences growing up as a black woman as well as being the mother in a nontraditional family.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Donna Giles

    I didn't care for this much at all. Much better was "This is How it Always Is." Small percentage of the book actually about the child. (https://www.thestranger.com/books/201...)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anneke

    Book Review: The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation Author: Jodie Patterson Publisher: Random House Books/Ballantine Publication Date: January 29, 2019 Review Date: January 14, 2019 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is an excellent memoir of an interesting life lived by the author, Jodie Patterson. She grew up in New York City on the Upper West Side. She spent time in Georgia with her maternal relatives and was enveloped in Book Review: The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation Author: Jodie Patterson Publisher: Random House Books/Ballantine Publication Date: January 29, 2019 Review Date: January 14, 2019 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is an excellent memoir of an interesting life lived by the author, Jodie Patterson. She grew up in New York City on the Upper West Side. She spent time in Georgia with her maternal relatives and was enveloped in her family’s strong Southern matriarchy. In that tradition, she graduated from Spelman College. She got married and ended up with 5 children. The heart of her story is about her child Penelope. Penelope was born as a girl, but as early as age 3, stated out loud that she was not a girl, she was a boy. He. Not she. Ms. Patterson shares her what her life was like coming to grips with the reality of her transgender child, and then she and her husband becoming staunch advocates in the transgender movement. Her story is much more layered and complex than I’m saying here. The memoir is written in a clear and engaging manner, easy to read. I was totally drawn in and gobbled this book up in 1 day. The writing was unflinching in its honesty. About her feelings about herself, her marriage, her children, her allowing the reality of having a transgender child, and becoming a strong advocate for Penelope, her son. I highly, highly recommend this book for anyone who loves memoir, black cultural history, books about the transgender movement, a deep, truthful look at the workings of a complex family, about the traditions of the black South, and just some heartwarming instruction about meeting life head-on. 5 Stars. Thank you Random House/Ballantine for granting me early access to this riveting memoir, and to Jodie Patterson for her exceptional honesty. This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads, and Amazon. #netgalley #theboldworld #jodiepatterson

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    3.5 Stars. This memoir grabbed me and didn’t let go. I was captivated by the story of the Patterson-Becker-Ghartey family. Jodie Patterson tells of growing up an African American girl in an affluent family in upper-west-side Manhattan. The family dynamic during this part of her life leaves her feeling not good enough, in spite of supportive parents, strong extended family and excellent education. Her sojourn at Atlanta’s Spelman College (an HBCU) helps her first define herself as a strong Black 3.5 Stars. This memoir grabbed me and didn’t let go. I was captivated by the story of the Patterson-Becker-Ghartey family. Jodie Patterson tells of growing up an African American girl in an affluent family in upper-west-side Manhattan. The family dynamic during this part of her life leaves her feeling not good enough, in spite of supportive parents, strong extended family and excellent education. Her sojourn at Atlanta’s Spelman College (an HBCU) helps her first define herself as a strong Black woman. Descriptions of the school were appealing to me as a feminist. I hope the Spelman of the 1980s still exists today, promoting and encouraging collegiate women to be all they can be. Patterson’s story shifts somewhat in her adulthood, focusing on her marriages and children. Without telling too much I will say that she becomes an advocate for transgender rights, starting within her own family. The journey is not over yet. While parts of the book were bogged down with so many tellings of her struggles advocating for and trying to explain what transgender means, and her frequent marital difficulties, this story is a winner. It is a welcome, needed exploration of how and why every person deserves respect. I admire Jodie Patterson and nearly all the other people in the book. Google her to find the details of what this woman stands for. Thank you Penguin/Random House and LibraryThing for the advance copy. I enjoyed it. 🙂

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

    Thank you to NetGalley, Ballantine Books, and Jodie Patterson for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. Like: - Hearing all of the author’s life lessons learned through there personal experiences, from friends and family, and through parenting - The power of the Black Panther Movement for her - Discussions of power - Representation: trans boy in a black family - The overall journey of her son and learning to be a part of the trans community Love: - The life lesson: to Thank you to NetGalley, Ballantine Books, and Jodie Patterson for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. Like: - Hearing all of the author’s life lessons learned through there personal experiences, from friends and family, and through parenting - The power of the Black Panther Movement for her - Discussions of power - Representation: trans boy in a black family - The overall journey of her son and learning to be a part of the trans community Love: - The life lesson: to define yourself or the world will; distance yourself from anyone who said you need to be anyone other than yourself - Her overall continual journey of personal growth - The message that trans people don’t need to change their names, bodies, clothes, hormones, etc. to be considered a certain gender, or even need to identify with a gender, but they may choose to do so if it feels right to them Dislike: - Once someone refers to Penelope as not a real boy, if I remember correctly. I’m not sure who said it or what their intentions were, but still … - Her father’s harsh way of parenting Wish that: - There was a little less about her childhood. While there were lots of great life lessons, it became a little long winded at times. Overall, a good comprehensive memoir about the author’s life, journey through personal growth, advocacy and learning bout her son’s life as a trans boy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation is both beautifully and powerfully written. Uncompromising in its honesty, and impressive in its handling of all societal topics covered, Jodie Patterson's memoir includes her childhood, dealing with various cultures, her early relationships and marriages, becoming a mother, becoming an activist for transgendered people and growing into her own self. Along the way she tells us: what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a black woman, what The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation is both beautifully and powerfully written. Uncompromising in its honesty, and impressive in its handling of all societal topics covered, Jodie Patterson's memoir includes her childhood, dealing with various cultures, her early relationships and marriages, becoming a mother, becoming an activist for transgendered people and growing into her own self. Along the way she tells us: what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a black woman, what it means to be a mother of a transgendered child, what it means to be a boy born into a girl's body, how she dealt with family, friends and others to educate others about what transgender means while doing her best to protect her child and his right to be whoever he says he is. Multiple generations of her family were urged to live life boldly, to be unafraid, to love themselves as they are, to be strong, and to be loving. Jodie Patterson continues that with her own family. If only every child could be raised by such loving and empowering parents! I honor Ms. Patterson for her strength, fierceness, and dedication towards moving the world forward in it's understanding and acceptance of differences. Many thanks to NetGalley and Ballentine Books for allowing me to read a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    lady✨christine

    mini-review Synopsis: Jodie Patterson shares her story of growing up black on the Upper West Side in New York, to attending an all-black women’s college in the south, to building a unique family unit and adapting to her transgender son, Penelope. Writing: A. Although it’s pretty exposition heavy, focusing on Jodie’s thought processes of her experiences, this book is a beautifully written portrayal of a black woman coming into her own. Insights: A+. While I read this for the exploration of mini-review Synopsis: Jodie Patterson shares her story of growing up black on the Upper West Side in New York, to attending an all-black women’s college in the south, to building a unique family unit and adapting to her transgender son, Penelope. Writing: A. Although it’s pretty exposition heavy, focusing on Jodie’s thought processes of her experiences, this book is a beautifully written portrayal of a black woman coming into her own. Insights: A+. While I read this for the exploration of parenting a trans kid, what really struck me was the way Patterson writes about blackness. It infuses every single part of her story and that of her children and it gives her a sense of power, rather than just feeling marginalized. Her story has the potential to be inspirational for all sorts of readers. Most Important Thing I Learned: A+. Patterson talks openly about the point in her life where she wasn’t able to keep going. So often, I feel like women—especially mothers—are compelled to put on a brave face, keep doing all the behind-the-scenes emotional labor of being women. I really appreciated how Patterson openly admits that she hit a breaking point and that admitting one’s weakness is often a huge part of being a strong woman. Diversity: A-. Literally the only I felt was “missing” from this amazing book was a deeper exploration of Patterson’s privilege. She mentions that her father more or less built his own wealth, despite white men not wanting him in their space; yet Patterson doesn’t really talk about the advantages she had over many people, especially in the NYC area, living in poverty and unable to enjoy the freedom she does throughout her life. Of course, this was just my personal wish. Overall, do I recommend: This is one of those rare books I think anyone could learn something from reading. More than that, reading Jodie Patterson’s progression from a young woman who feels invisible to a mother who stands up for her kid—this book inspired me to keep fighting for what I believe in, even when things get tough. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a little inspiration and motivation to keep striving toward their dreams. To see more of my thoughts, check out my full review on my blog, lady gets lit.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tangled in Text

    This was a beautiful and bold journey of acceptance and love. Jodie is one badass, passionate mamma who had me jealous of her love. She fought a fiery, uphill battle against stigmas and ignorance once she found out her daughter identified as male, but her love towards him still illuminated every page. It was inspirational to see her jump in wholeheartedly by learning as much as possible during this new development and having some very open and honest discussions with him and her other children, This was a beautiful and bold journey of acceptance and love. Jodie is one badass, passionate mamma who had me jealous of her love. She fought a fiery, uphill battle against stigmas and ignorance once she found out her daughter identified as male, but her love towards him still illuminated every page. It was inspirational to see her jump in wholeheartedly by learning as much as possible during this new development and having some very open and honest discussions with him and her other children, so they were all on the same page. I don't know how she did it because Jodie exhausted me with all the directions she was pulled. Motherhood is truly a labor of love. She made sure to be intentional with each one of her children separately, meeting each one where they were at and loving them for who they are and how they understand it. She showed a love and devotion that is hard to imagine and seems rare in the world these days. I want a mom who will fight for me and drag me out of town when she notices I've grown an attitude in order to discover the root cause.

  20. 5 out of 5

    An

    As Jodie Patterson writes, "The world is unkind to people it doesn't understand." Compassion and love begin with understanding and acceptance, which Patterson sets out to achieve in her memoir The Bold World. While the crux of the book is about raising a transgender son and becoming an activist for the LGBT community, Patterson also spends a significant portion on detailing her childhood and how it shaped her into the woman she is today (Patterson comes from a long line of civil rights activists As Jodie Patterson writes, "The world is unkind to people it doesn't understand." Compassion and love begin with understanding and acceptance, which Patterson sets out to achieve in her memoir The Bold World. While the crux of the book is about raising a transgender son and becoming an activist for the LGBT community, Patterson also spends a significant portion on detailing her childhood and how it shaped her into the woman she is today (Patterson comes from a long line of civil rights activists and strong role models; her grandmother protested segregation in the South and won against school boards and hospitals. Her father founded the first black brokerage firm on Wall Street). Patterson is a wonderful storyteller--her strength and charisma seep through the pages. She is also very honest about the mistakes (and lessons learned) throughout her journey. Overall, this is an emotional and powerful memoir. I highly recommend it, even to those who are not directly involved in the LGBT community. Thank you to the publisher and author for gifting me with a copy of the book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book isn’t quite as easy a read as Janet Mock’s books. I am fairly certain it’s the first book I’ve read about a trans boy, which I hadn’t realized. It talks about the conflict between telling girls that they don’t have to express their gender in traditional ways and they are still 100% girls, and trans boys, who are telling the world that they are BOYS. I appreciate how hard it must be to distinguish the two. I liked reading about Jodie’s parents and upbringing and college experience. I This book isn’t quite as easy a read as Janet Mock’s books. I am fairly certain it’s the first book I’ve read about a trans boy, which I hadn’t realized. It talks about the conflict between telling girls that they don’t have to express their gender in traditional ways and they are still 100% girls, and trans boys, who are telling the world that they are BOYS. I appreciate how hard it must be to distinguish the two. I liked reading about Jodie’s parents and upbringing and college experience. I appreciated reading about the intersectionality of her dad teaching her that her race is a source of pride and not a detriment, at the same time that he uses her gender to hold her back. Thanks Dad! The part about her dad dying of cancer reminded me a lot of my dad’s death. At the end, she talks about how the Black community is always trying to fortify the Black narrative. That explains some of why communities of color are slower to accept queer POCs. It’s worth thinking about.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tia

    A brave story of a black woman’s journey into becoming a woman, a mother, and an advocate for all her children. Jodie Patterson writes eloquently about complex issues of self-identity, gender, and self-love. I am inspired by the determination to tell her family’s journey with their son, Penelope. This story is essential because as Patterson says, talking about issues related to feelings and identities and souls is a privilege only afforded to the privileged. More nuanced stories and memoirs from A brave story of a black woman’s journey into becoming a woman, a mother, and an advocate for all her children. Jodie Patterson writes eloquently about complex issues of self-identity, gender, and self-love. I am inspired by the determination to tell her family’s journey with their son, Penelope. This story is essential because as Patterson says, talking about issues related to feelings and identities and souls is a privilege only afforded to the privileged. More nuanced stories and memoirs from black people are most often centered around race, not because we want them to be, but because racism is the coat we can never shed. It colors and affects all aspects of our lives. The Bold World asserts itself as a soul-worthy story that doesn’t solely focus on “the Struggle—racism, poverty, murder, education, and everyday injustices.” We’re all better off when more of us can and do tell our complicated, honest stories. This book is the Moonlight of memoirs.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    I received an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway and was so excited to dig into a book I had read such good things about; Jodie Patterson did not disappoint. I throughly enjoyed reading about her life’s unfolding, in it’s entirety, her childhood, relationships and parenting experiences where so interesting to me and I so appreciate and am inspired by her advocacy and passion for loving and raising the children you have - not the children you thought you had or that society would tell I received an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway and was so excited to dig into a book I had read such good things about; Jodie Patterson did not disappoint. I throughly enjoyed reading about her life’s unfolding, in it’s entirety, her childhood, relationships and parenting experiences where so interesting to me and I so appreciate and am inspired by her advocacy and passion for loving and raising the children you have - not the children you thought you had or that society would tell you that you should have. “All of us can be than what gender says. More than what society tells us we should be. If we write ourselves off as purely one thing - boys do this, and girls do this - we will gravely underestimate ourselves, miscalculating our infinite potential.” “This love, this life, must be traversed. Experienced. And in the end it must make us whole.”

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Lyn Roden

    Jodie Patterson is on a mission to make the world a better place for kids like her trans son, Penelope. However, her resulting memoir is not a rehashing of interviews, facts, and statistics about the transgender experience. Instead, Patterson dissects the pivotal moments of her life—from childhood to motherhood—to pinpoint her relationship to her self-identity, her blackness, and her expressions and understandings of gender. The resulting work is deeply thought-provoking with an intersectional Jodie Patterson is on a mission to make the world a better place for kids like her trans son, Penelope. However, her resulting memoir is not a rehashing of interviews, facts, and statistics about the transgender experience. Instead, Patterson dissects the pivotal moments of her life—from childhood to motherhood—to pinpoint her relationship to her self-identity, her blackness, and her expressions and understandings of gender. The resulting work is deeply thought-provoking with an intersectional approach, such as connecting the Civil Rights battles of her elders to her current work in the LGBTQIA community. I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in reading more about trans families or transgender topics, specifically to any parent seeking to be inspired by her anecdotes of discussing gender and race with their children.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anne Meyer

    This book captures so beautifully the experience of parenting a transgender child -- the turmoil of emotions, the intense desire to protect and advocate, the conflict it creates, the uncertainty of every step in the journey, but all of it motivated by love and the need for the child to grow up healthy and happy and safe. Patterson's prose puts into precise words what the mind thinks and the heart feels. But this book is so much more than just about parenting a transgender child. She also taps This book captures so beautifully the experience of parenting a transgender child -- the turmoil of emotions, the intense desire to protect and advocate, the conflict it creates, the uncertainty of every step in the journey, but all of it motivated by love and the need for the child to grow up healthy and happy and safe. Patterson's prose puts into precise words what the mind thinks and the heart feels. But this book is so much more than just about parenting a transgender child. She also taps into the power of growing up in a matriarchal family, the need for a father's love and approval, the struggles and joys of an imperfect marriage, and the patience, flexibility, and challenges of raising ALL of our children. My copy of this book is completed marked up so I can revisit passages regularly for inspiration and comfort. I absolutely loved this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    amber

    I would rate this more in the realm of 3 1/2 stars, but I accidentally bought a used, uncorrected proof, so that might make a half star difference?? I was interested in this memoir mostly because Patterson discusses her experience with a transgender child and I wanted to understand that better. In my search for the book, I came across a mini-documentary of her family and in it she was unflinchingly radiant with a glow that resonates in her words and her vision. She’s a compelling presence on I would rate this more in the realm of 3 1/2 stars, but I accidentally bought a used, uncorrected proof, so that might make a half star difference?? I was interested in this memoir mostly because Patterson discusses her experience with a transgender child and I wanted to understand that better. In my search for the book, I came across a mini-documentary of her family and in it she was unflinchingly radiant with a glow that resonates in her words and her vision. She’s a compelling presence on screen and on paper, even if there are some lulls in her story. Patterson weaves themes of race, gender, family, and parenthood in interesting ways, illuminating the transgender perspective —“We are who we are not because of the body, but because of the soul.”

  27. 5 out of 5

    Heidi | Paper Safari Book Blog

    This book was very different than I expected but it was also more than I expected. I expected a tale of a woman raising a trans gender child instead what I got was a rich history of an African-American matriarchy who have created strength, community, culture, and comfort to their family. It is a book about a family where gender roles were very specific and learning how to bend them. It is a beautiful book dedicated not to just Jodie parenting her son Penelope (he still wants to use this name) This book was very different than I expected but it was also more than I expected. I expected a tale of a woman raising a trans gender child instead what I got was a rich history of an African-American matriarchy who have created strength, community, culture, and comfort to their family. It is a book about a family where gender roles were very specific and learning how to bend them. It is a beautiful book dedicated not to just Jodie parenting her son Penelope (he still wants to use this name) but to her family and her childhood and her discovery of who she is and where she fits as a wife, mother, and person. Wonderfully accessible Pattersons thoughtful and honest ideas on gender and being black in America, of being a black woman in America are worth the read. There is so much to take away from this book my head is swimming. I am grateful that it crossed my path and that I was drawn to read it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Abby Henderson

    I absolutely loved this book. I imagined it focused more on the story of a parent with a trans child. In reality, it was more about a girl who was raised to be a strong black woman in America and how through that empowering upbringing, comfortable in her own skin, was able to translate it into a complete and thorough acceptance of her daughter when she told her she was really a boy. I fell in love with Jodie and her story is what we need more of in America today. Our country feels so broken. I absolutely loved this book. I imagined it focused more on the story of a parent with a trans child. In reality, it was more about a girl who was raised to be a strong black woman in America and how through that empowering upbringing, comfortable in her own skin, was able to translate it into a complete and thorough acceptance of her daughter when she told her she was really a boy. I fell in love with Jodie and her story is what we need more of in America today. Our country feels so broken. Books like this ignite hope in me for better days to come. Bravo, Jodie and bravo, Penelope. So much courage in such a great story of family, identity and resilience.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Holley

    A wonderfully written book, but I was expecting more of it to be about the experience/process of being the parent of a transgender child; instead, the book focuses on her own personal and family history before getting to the subject at hand about half way through. And while I was interested and engaged in this history, I think that overall it could’ve used a bit more editing, and it makes me unsure if it’s the most effective choice of a book to recommend to other parents of trans kids. But A wonderfully written book, but I was expecting more of it to be about the experience/process of being the parent of a transgender child; instead, the book focuses on her own personal and family history before getting to the subject at hand about half way through. And while I was interested and engaged in this history, I think that overall it could’ve used a bit more editing, and it makes me unsure if it’s the most effective choice of a book to recommend to other parents of trans kids. But personally I very much appreciated her vulnerable sharing about the challenges and difficulties that can come with this situation.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Susie Dumond

    This is a heartfelt and refreshingly honest memoir of a mother working to make the world a better place for her transgender son. Jodie Patterson has a wonderful and clear voice throughout the book, and sharing her story of acceptance and love for her son is so important. My only criticism is that the first half of the book feels like a different memoir than the second half. It could have used a little more of a common thread to tie her early life to her life after Penelope was born. But overall, This is a heartfelt and refreshingly honest memoir of a mother working to make the world a better place for her transgender son. Jodie Patterson has a wonderful and clear voice throughout the book, and sharing her story of acceptance and love for her son is so important. My only criticism is that the first half of the book feels like a different memoir than the second half. It could have used a little more of a common thread to tie her early life to her life after Penelope was born. But overall, it's such a meaningful story told with such heart. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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