#ownvoices · Diverse Books · Review

Book Review: Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

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Title: Redefining Realness: My path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More.

Author: Janet Mock

Published by: Atria Books

Publication date: February 4th 2014

Genre: Memoir, Nonfiction, #ownvoices

Pages: 263

Goodreads| Amazon 

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock is  insighful and moving, as well as beautifully written. Mock has crafted a captivating story- her story-  about growing up as a poor biracial trans girl. Her life is full of intersections and she talks about them and about their role in her identity with passion and frankness. She talks about having an African American father and a Native Hawaiian mother, but being raised as a black girl because that was how people were going to percibe her. She also talks about poverty and prostitution and how they are often linked, especially, for trans girl. Furthermore, she addresses ‘passing’ and she recognised her privilige because she looks like a beautiful cis woman. But at the same time, she talks about the need to stop beliving cis people are more valuable or legitimate and that trans people who can ‘pass’ as cis are more valuable and legitimate.She recognizes her privilege throughout the book, because she is beautiful, heteronormative, able-bodied, educated women. She recognizes her privilege because she is percibed as the right kind of trans women, and because of it, she makes this book even more important.

Her story is the heart of the book and the writing style in which it’s delivered is beautiful. The only problem in the writing comes when she is not telling her story. There’s parts of this book where Mock switches  to a more academic language, she tries to give information about the lives of  trans people in the United States; she tries to give context to her expirience by showing the bigger picture and by showing how she has a lot of priviliges that other trans people don’t have. Even if I find that information very valuable, I also think the switch between the beautiful and honest writing style in which she tells her story to this more academic language is so drastic and abrupt that it takes the reader out of the story and it breaks the connection. Nonetheless, the parts where she uses academic language are so few and so short that they didn’t affect that much my enjoyment of the story.

This book is incredibly thought-provoking and the reason is that Mock doesn’t hold back, she is achingly honest and that makes her story and what she has to say so compelling. Redefining Realness would help people that don’t know a lot about the issues trans people have to face, but also that don’t understand the idea of intersectionality. This book would be a good introductory read for them, as well as a wonderful story for everyone else.

Rating: 4,3 stars

Have you read this book? Did you like it? If you haven’t, do you plan to read it? 

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