A poignant and provocative story of transgender awakening in a working-class American town.

by Griffin Hansbury
W. W. Norton, March 2024
(via Sterling Lord Literistic)

In the summer of 1984, teenage Mel becomes entranced with the trans woman who appears in her blue-collar American town. Through the world-expanding time she spends with the woman, Sylvia, and the changes of adolescence, Mel soon discovers she is not the girl she thought she was—in fact, she might not be a girl at all. In the wake of this revelation, Mel navigates gender, sexuality, and an intense friendship with her childhood best friend in a hostile time and place for both girls and queers.

Moving back and forth to 2019, Mel has become Max, a middle-aged trans man. He returns to his hometown in the wake of his mother’s death, still reeling from his own politically-incorrect, gender-related scandal at his workplace, and bearing the burden of guilt from that pivotal teenage summer. As he reunites with his wayward older sister, spends time with his preteen great-niece and reckons with his past, Max works to come to terms with what it means to be a flawed and forgivable human being amidst constantly changing social norms.

This gorgeous, propulsive novel is filled with beauty and danger, youth and wisdom and the life-saving lifelines of counterculture. With writing so tense and honest and real, I recognized this place and these people deeply, and felt them all in my heart long after the book was finished.” ―Michelle Tea, author of Knocking Myself Up

Griffin Hansbury is the acclaimed author of Vanishing New York (Dey Street, 2017), based on the celebrated blog written under the pen name Jeremiah Moss. As Hansbury he is the author of The Nostalgist, a novel, and Day For Night, a collection of poems. A two-time NYFA fellow, his writing has appeared in n+1, The New York Times, The New York Daily News, and online for The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, The Village Voice, Salon, and The New York Review of Books.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email