I received an E-Advanced Reader Copy of this memoir in exchange for a fair review. Many thanks to Netgalley and Westminster John Knox Press for the opportunity to review this memoir.
She’s My Dad : A Father’s Transition and a Son’s Redemption by Jonathan Williams and Paula Stone Williams follows a Jonathan while his father transitions from male to female late in her life. Paula has felt that she was a woman since she was a child but did not transition until late in his life after he married and had children. Jonathan has a hard time coping as he feels like he is losing his father. On top of this, Paula loses her job as a director for an Evangelical church-planting organization and struggles to find her place in the world after losing something that was such an integral part of her life. Johnathan who is a Pastor at one of these churches struggles to accept his father and if it is okay for him to do so in the eyes of God.
This memoir is so refreshing. Jonathan is honest about his struggle to accept his father’s new identity. Jonathan laments that he feels like he is losing the person that he grew up knowing even though his father really isn’t going anywhere. He admits that this is partly because the perceived masculinity that he saw his father having. His identity was based around his now transgendered father does that mean that that he is a woman himself? Eventually Jonathan comes around to his father’s change but he struggles deeply while doing so.
Paula’s perspective is very limited, she only has a few chapters, but I wish that she had more. She too has her own struggles. From her relationships with her friends and family falling apart to her own faith. Paula loses the her job, something that she loved to do and this made her lose her faith in God because she cannot find her place without preaching. I wish her journey through transition was explored more, but I understand that the majority of this book was meant to surround Jonathan’s struggle.
This memoir is the perfect example of using religion and faith in a way that does not turn a reader, who does share their opinion, off. Jonathan is humble in his journey through his father’s transition. He, as a preacher, does question is faith. He wants to accept his Father but he is having a hard time figuring how to do so while still following what he feels his religion expects of him. His group of churches does not accept any part of the LGBTQ+ community. Jonathan ends up leaving this group of churches when he decides to embrace his father, bringing his church to be more accepting and even if they don’t agree they can still live together. It is beautiful to watch Jonathan express his struggle and eventual acceptance of not only his father but the LGBTQ+ community.
There are a few things that I wish were in this memoir but they often involved other people, I accept that this was probably due to the person not wanting their own experience published. One thing that did bother me was that “fuck” is used a few times but it is bleeped out. This is an adult book and I think that we as adults can handle explicit language. This is a minor thing, but It did annoy me to see those stars in the word.
She’s My Dad is an eye opening memoir showcasing two people’s struggles to accept themselves and each other. It is a great book for those who know someone who is transitioning, and especially their families. I’m curious to see what comes of this book when it is finally published.