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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 Moc 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 Moc 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. 4 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 nam 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. 5 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/ means 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 ama 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. 5 out of 5

    DFZ

    tl;dr — A cis black mother talks about her life and family and tries to make sense of her trans son’s identity and expression but struggles with it. She uses the words trans/transgender alone when those words are meant to modify a noun, making for some awkward phrasing. Best for a cis audience. When Jodie writes about her life, her blackness, Her sheroes, her entrepreneurial spirit, it feels deep and raw and beautiful. But when she talks about parenting, she’s so deeply enmeshed with her children tl;dr — A cis black mother talks about her life and family and tries to make sense of her trans son’s identity and expression but struggles with it. She uses the words trans/transgender alone when those words are meant to modify a noun, making for some awkward phrasing. Best for a cis audience. When Jodie writes about her life, her blackness, Her sheroes, her entrepreneurial spirit, it feels deep and raw and beautiful. But when she talks about parenting, she’s so deeply enmeshed with her children that it excludes almost everything else. And when it comes to her trans son, she tries to enforce rigid gender roles for a time that even included pink hangers. Although she learns better over time, every time she talks about her son my chest hurts at how poorly she understands transness. Writing that she talks about “transgender” and suggesting her son call his vagina a tiny penis are meant to be positive, helpful, but it just feels so off. Her husband’s rejection of the term “transgender” is because he doesn’t want his child to be confined by a label, but by rejecting it, it ends up feeling like a rejection of his son’s declarations even at an early age. I pushed through this book, but I found it so challenging because so much of it feels like transphobia, even though it’s also well-intentioned. The concluding chapters were hopeful and I’m crossing my fingers that Penelope gets all the love and acceptance from his family that he needs to thrive.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeimy

    I liked this memoir, but I cannot pinpoint why.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Narrative Muse

    -- A bold statement and a lot to think about in The Bold World -- The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation is the autobiography of Jodie Patterson, a Black mom of five whose toddler turns to her one day and says “...everyone thinks I’m a girl, Mama –- and I’m not.” The first part of this story focuses on Patterson’s own upbringing, her journey towards self-discovery, and her experiences facing dual discrimination for being Black and a woman in America. The second part covers the firs -- A bold statement and a lot to think about in The Bold World -- The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation is the autobiography of Jodie Patterson, a Black mom of five whose toddler turns to her one day and says “...everyone thinks I’m a girl, Mama –- and I’m not.” The first part of this story focuses on Patterson’s own upbringing, her journey towards self-discovery, and her experiences facing dual discrimination for being Black and a woman in America. The second part covers the first handful of years of her transgender son Penelope’s life, as Patterson attempts to find a parenting balance through protection, empowerment, and activism. Patterson writes with honesty and passion, exploring her personal navigation of the multidimensionality of gender and identity. She presents each of her labels –- woman, Black, Christian, trans activist, parent –- and how these collide, complement, and disrupt each other, lamenting how our need to label ourselves and one another limits our potential as humans. Throughout the story, Patterson grapples with how to challenge her loved ones’ perceptions of identity and gender in order to build a strong support network for her son. She battles entrenched conservative perspectives, meditates on her own reflex reactions and thoughts, and works hard to openly introduce these concepts to her children. Patterson reminds us that while gender and identity are complex (because humans are complex) they’re also very simple –- it comes down to caring for others and wanting to support them, wanting them to be proud of who they are and comfortable within themselves. Writing about her relationship with her parents, and then about her relationship with her son, Patterson shows how the desire to protect and empower can smother and block a person’s ability to discover and celebrate who they are. In exploring her own journey, Patterson presents an intriguing commentary on the parent-child relationship and asks the reader to reflect on their own identity –- whether parts of it have been muted by loved ones or the wider society -– and challenges us to free those parts of ourselves. Readers will find moments of clarity and inspiration within these pages. And if your own upbringing doesn’t mirror the cultural or identity narratives explored then you’ll likely discover a new sense of humility and awareness –- a gift that is vital especially in this time where anti-diversity narratives speak so loudly. ---------- This review was first published on Narrative Muse, https://narrativemuse.co/books/the-bo..., and was written Alice Rich. Narrative Muse curates the best books and movies by and about women and non-binary folk on our website http://www.narrativemuse.co and our social media channels.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kayla TM

    This is a memoir about so many different things: identity, family, Black culture, acceptance, and change. Jodie Patterson writes about the strength of the women in her family, a lineage passed down to her, but beyond that, she writes about her transgender son, Penelope. The thing is, that with the number of important topics covered with this book, I expected something a little more...profound. And maybe it doesn’t come across to me that way because I feel the book is a little premature. It’s an This is a memoir about so many different things: identity, family, Black culture, acceptance, and change. Jodie Patterson writes about the strength of the women in her family, a lineage passed down to her, but beyond that, she writes about her transgender son, Penelope. The thing is, that with the number of important topics covered with this book, I expected something a little more...profound. And maybe it doesn’t come across to me that way because I feel the book is a little premature. It’s an important book, absolutely, the things Patterson discusses are issues and realities that need to be brought to the forefront of people’s minds in every day moments; however Penelope being only 7 years old means that there are so many challenges ahead of him, and his family. They have only just begun, and to write the book now seems a little preemptive. I enjoyed getting a mother’s prospective on how she reacted to her child saying “I’m not a girl. I am a boy.” But I feel there was a lot of focus on the things that Patterson did in the aftermath of that statement, rather than how she really felt about it. I felt maybe the book would’ve been better if there were stronger connections with where Patterson had been, growing up and learning to be a strong, confident, Black woman and her transgender son needing to grow up strong and confident in his identity. This book has so much to say that needs to be said, but I wish the conclusion felt stronger, more assured. 3 stars, though I really wish I could give it more. Thanks to Ballentine Books and Goodreads for my copy.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Judith von Kirchbach

    A wonderful memoir, gripping and powerful ! Jodie Patterson shares her what her life was like growing up, growing into “real” adulthood and than coming to grips with the reality of her third child being transgender, and then she and her husband becoming staunch advocates in the transgender movement. Her story is much more layered and complex and hard to give just a glimpse into. The memoir is written in a clear and engaging manner, easy to read. I was totally drawn in, and read this book in just A wonderful memoir, gripping and powerful ! Jodie Patterson shares her what her life was like growing up, growing into “real” adulthood and than coming to grips with the reality of her third child being transgender, and then she and her husband becoming staunch advocates in the transgender movement. Her story is much more layered and complex and hard to give just a glimpse into. The memoir is written in a clear and engaging manner, easy to read. I was totally drawn in, and read this book in just two days. 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. But also the reality many parents of multiple children face that when you have to focus on one because of whatever kind of need it affects the other children in the family microcosm. 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. I might not have discovered this book if it weren’t for Zibby’s bookclub (Mom’s don’t have time to read books) and it would have been a loss.

  10. 4 out of 5

    kglibrarian (Karin Greenberg)

    What a phenomenal book!! I went into this expecting it to be focused mainly on the author’s experience with her transgender son, but was thrilled to discover that before she gets into that heartwarming story she delves into the history of her family and their African-American roots. As a child growing up in the 70s and 80s on the Upper West Side, Patterson learns from her parents to celebrate her blackness and never hide from her identity. She also gets guidance from generations of female activis What a phenomenal book!! I went into this expecting it to be focused mainly on the author’s experience with her transgender son, but was thrilled to discover that before she gets into that heartwarming story she delves into the history of her family and their African-American roots. As a child growing up in the 70s and 80s on the Upper West Side, Patterson learns from her parents to celebrate her blackness and never hide from her identity. She also gets guidance from generations of female activists on her mother’s side, who inspire her to fight for acceptance and equality. It comes as no surprise that when her three-year-old daughter, Penelope, reveals that she is a boy, she embraces her child fully and does whatever she can to nurture his spirit. A beautifully written page turner that has helped me understand what people need for their souls to flourish.

  11. 5 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 is “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.

  12. 5 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 ("pret 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.

  13. 4 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bin Userkaf

    One of my favorite books and certainly memoirs to date. Worth the read for people of all ages and walks of life, such a beautiful and inspiring story.

  16. 5 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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This is such an important read!

  18. 4 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 fami 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.

  19. 5 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...) 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...)

  20. 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 he 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

  21. 4 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 defi 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.

  22. 5 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. 🙂

  23. 5 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.

  24. 4 out of 5

    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 paren 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.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Whitney Hess

    This one really grabbed me. The writing is straight-forward and unadorned, which I really appreciate in a memoir. Though the book description makes it about her trans son, and that is certainly a theme, much more time is spent giving context on what gender roles, race, otherness, and power mean to her given her upbringing. I respect that this is her story, and one day her son might tell his own. She’s led a fascinating life in search of her own identity apart from the one she was given, which is This one really grabbed me. The writing is straight-forward and unadorned, which I really appreciate in a memoir. Though the book description makes it about her trans son, and that is certainly a theme, much more time is spent giving context on what gender roles, race, otherness, and power mean to her given her upbringing. I respect that this is her story, and one day her son might tell his own. She’s led a fascinating life in search of her own identity apart from the one she was given, which is a beautiful parallel to her son’s experience, and what ultimately woke her up to her own power. We don’t hear enough stories of being Black and upper-class, and we definitely don’t talk enough about the personal development of Black people — grappling with their own humanity in addition to oppression. Jodie has lived a privileged life in some ways, a totally sheltered life in other ways, but she is also a human being figuring herself out, making mistakes, owning them without shame, and pushing herself to balance loyalty to family with self-love. I devoured it. And as a bonus, I took away 4 or 5 books from Black authors I sorely need to read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    I appreciated this author’s willingness and courage to tackle big and personal issues like parental, romantic, sibling, children relationships, relationships with ourselves, extended family legacies, coming of age, feminism, racism, transphobia, etc. A list not often tackled by one book, but all very authentic to her story. I found her life story and her retelling of it compelling and honest and am glad I read it. The main thing that bothered me was some of her ongoing inherent bias (which are a I appreciated this author’s willingness and courage to tackle big and personal issues like parental, romantic, sibling, children relationships, relationships with ourselves, extended family legacies, coming of age, feminism, racism, transphobia, etc. A list not often tackled by one book, but all very authentic to her story. I found her life story and her retelling of it compelling and honest and am glad I read it. The main thing that bothered me was some of her ongoing inherent bias (which are a fault of the culture we grow up in and messages we’re fed about gender and gender roles and sexuality, etc). The last part of the book was titled ‘woke,’ but it seems she’s still in the process of waking up to transgender issues and unlearning some of the harmful biases. She sensationalized some of her son’s experiences which would not have been a big deal if any of her other sons did it/if he didn’t have a vagina. As allies, we need to be humble in our advocacy and careful to raise up others’ voices instead of taking the mic ourselves. I also wondered whether she could have permission from her son to tell such a personal story of his before he grows up. Though it is a transformational part of her story and she is a brave ally/advocate, It may complicate his teenage years to have this book published already. I’m not sure I’ve read other memoirs by parents telling such a personal story about their young child. And also there were personal elements of her own story toward the end (like the difficulties she was having with her husband) which made me feel like she was more comfortable telling the intimate details of Penel’s story as it unfolds than her own which I felt was unfair.

  27. 4 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.

  28. 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, s 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.

  29. 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 ap 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.

  30. 4 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.

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