Friday, January 1, 2016

Trans-sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian

image from LibraryThing
This was the November book for our book club.

I have to admit I wasn't overly enthused by the topic of a trans-gender love affair - especially when one of the characters is an elementary teacher. As a former elementary teacher in a book club of elementary teachers my experience and understanding made me pre-judge this.

The premise - a lonely elementary teacher, Allie, falls in love with Dana. Sounds simple - but so not!  Dana is a college professor who has began the process of gender reassignment when he and Allie meet, she was a student in one of his classes.  As their love affair grows he nears the reassignment surgery deadline and a lot of decisions have to be made.

This story is told over the airwaves of a NPR public radio station managed by Allie's ex-husband and narrated by her daughter. Each of these secondary characters adds to the depth of this complicated story with their perspective.  The narrative moves between first person action and a retelling of the details.  It adds an interesting dimension.

What did I think?  As an elementary teacher I did not agree with all of the actions of Allie.  She made some ridiculous decisions as a teacher - allowing 6th graders to swim in a lake on a field trip only partially clad would never happen in my Iowa town!!  But, I did care for her. I felt the pain of her lost love - changed love  - confused love!  I don't know that it changed my feelings on the topic - but it did make me pause and consider. I think that is what a great book does - force us to face a part of life that we may not bump against very often.

We had a great discussion in book club.
And then following our meeting this happened...

I was so excited that @Chrisbohjalian tweeted me back!
I felt just like a little kid - a real author responded to me!

It reminded me again why I love technology and the immediacy of connection and the power of the words we put out there to the internet.  It also reminded me how much I love the printed word and the power of those words to remain current even 17 years after they were first published!

I am happy we read this book and I am happy for the discussion that followed.
Thanks Chris Bohjalian!

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