|image from LibraryThing|
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 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!