Ever since they were young, Peggy Cryden noticed her children’s gender expression did not correspond with society’s expectations of their biological gender. In this moving and honest memoir, Peggy details the experiences and challenges of raising both a gay son and a gay, transgender son and shares her family’s journey of adversity and growth, which has helped inform her work as a psychotherapist.
Each chapter explores a particular year in the family’s life, following the children from birth to adulthood and through their numerous experiences including coming out, depression, hate crime, relationships, school and various aspects to do with transitioning (legal, physical, medical, social) as well as their appearances in the media as a family. This book is insightful, charming and thought-provoking, and through levity and humour, offers a positive approach to parenting outside of convention.
When I came across this book in Netgalley, I knew I just had to have it. Unfortunately, it’s not very often that we see loving, supportive families when it comes to lgbt+ youth stories. Especially for trans kids, more often than not, the reality can be a pretty scary and horrifying scenario. Reading a memoir of a mother who not only accepted, but also supported her children while they came to terms with their sexuality and gender identity is a heart-warming story, one that needs to be heard.
Telling her story from the very beginning, Peggy Cryden begins by narrating her own childhood growing up in a neglectful and harmful environment, to her teenage years, to meeting her husband and her own struggles as a mother later on. Reading about her, her story, her struggles and her life was an emotional roller-coaster. Her honesty and unsugar-coated version of reality made this book so special I can see myself going back to it again and again and again.
Reading about such a supportive mother, such a wonderful, great woman, really gave me hope. Hope that kids like me (lgbt+ kids), kids struggling with their sexuality and gender identity, kids that don’t exactly fit in society’s expectations, can find solace to the people closest to them, that they can overcome their obstacles and get their happily ever after. Straight Expectations is a book I really needed to read, and a book that needs to be read and praised for its very honest depiction of life and for spreading a hopeful message for trans youth and for spreading awareness, for very simply, honestly, and authentically depicting a matter many cisgender people are unfamiliar with. Its language is a very simple one and that’s exactly why this book is so amazing; because it delivers very powerful, positive and inclusive messages without being strictly educational or didactic. Definitely one of my favourite reads of 2017 so far.
Expected publication: May 18th 2017
**An ARCopy was provided via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review **
***The author chose to use she/her pronouns until Jake’s transition, a decision that was explained before the actual “plot” started. ***