I’ll admit that I was skeptical about someone other than Nicole Maines writing about her experiences, as well as her family’s, and then publishing it into a book. However, after completing the novel Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family this January, those fears have since been allayed.
Within the confines of the pages of the aforementioned novel, there is much to process. We learn not only about Nicole and her family, but also the science behind certain socially taboo topics; namely being transgender and what that can mean. There are facts and statistics, but also heart within each page. Also, in accompaniment to Nutt’s words, are some of Nicole’s and Jonas’ as well, which were taken from snippets of past diaries, art, and social media posts, as well as photos of the family over the course of the time that was spoken of in the book. Other than the family themselves, of course, I feel that there may not have been another person better than Amy Ellis Nutt to have written this narrative.
The book itself encompasses a time frame that began before the birth of the twins up until just after Nicole underwent sexual reassignment surgery. Despite the span of over two decades being written about, the book did not lag. Each part of it seems to have been carefully chosen to illustrate the narrative of a family in emotional distress, transforming into one that would become unified around Nicole, as well as important in the LGBT+ community for activism. Through the narration of identity struggles, bullying, and court cases, this biography showcases what it can mean to be not only LGBT+ or an ally, but also, a family.
Despite my disappointment that it hadn’t been written by Nicole herself, throughout the book it became apparent that the author had worked hard to accurately portray not only Nicole’s struggles, but also those of her mother, father, and brother, Jonas. This story is theirs, and that leaps off of the page right from the get go. That in and of itself is a gift all of its own.
Overall, I am grateful that this book exists. As a biography, it read as a story of triumph, despite struggle. In the face of adversity, and the increasingly dangerous political climate of casting off those as what some deem to be as “other”, this also felt like a love letter to those who have been forced to endure varying degrees of scrutiny and hate for simply attempting to live as who they are. Moving forward, I think it is an important one for not only making transgender and LGBT+ issues visible, but also, because it is just another resource for those of us who might be searching for answers, questioning, or just need a reminder that we matter too.
On Goodreads, I rated this book a 5/5 stars.
Just a disclaimer: I receive no benefits, monetary or otherwise, from this review, or the link that I have included to the book above. These opinions are all my own.