I have some friends who saw Janet Mock in person and read this book and they could not stop raving about how amazing she was. It piqued my interest so I got the audiobook from my library. I liked it, but it did not live up to the expectations that had been set by my friends raving about her. Maybe if I had seen her in person I would have been more impressed.
Also, I found out after listening to this audiobook that I probably should have read her other memoir Redefining Realness before reading this one. Mock is a transgender black woman and apparently her first book is about her decision and process of transitioning, whereas Surpassing Certainty is about life in her 20s. Having read Surpassing Certainty, I now want to read Redefining Realness, since one of the things I wanted to know more about was what her family life was like and how they reacted to her being transgender and making the decision to have gender reassignment surgery.
There’s no denying Mock is a great writer and she definitely has a story worth telling. She started out working as a stripper, which is actually how she met her first husband. There was clearly a lot of love in that relationship, but it just didn’t work out for various reasons, including the fact that Mock was determined to go to New York City for college and then to work in publishing. She made it happen, but her husband wasn’t willing to follow her. They remained technically married while they lived apart, although they were both seeing other people. Then they bought a house together in New Jersey and the commute just about killed Mock (it would have killed me).
Somehow she found time to go to a therapist, who helped her work through some of her issues and realize that her marriage just wasn’t working any more. Honestly, I couldn’t believe she agreed to buy a house with him at all. I can understand giving a marriage your all in order to try to make it work, but it just seemed to me like that relationship had proved itself to be over again and again. But, of course, hindsight is 20/20 and Mock was talking about her experience with the distance that comes with time.
I also may have appreciated this book more if I had been a few years younger when I read it. Granted, I was just 30 when I listened to the audiobook, but I had already figured out a lot of what Mock was working through in this book (minus the transgender stuff, of course).
My one quibble is that I have to question the amount of dialogue in this book. On the one hand, it makes the scenes come alive and makes for great reading. On the other hand, I doubt Mock’s memory is really that good. I wonder if she really remembered each and every conversation that well, or if she was just filling in the gaps with her imagination and best guesses.
What did you guys read this week? Anything else that didn’t quite live up to expectations? I want to hear all about it!