She’s My Dad by Iolanthe Woulff

Review: The author’s personal knowledge of the subject matter was instrumental in creating and establishing a believable, sympathetic character whose internal thoughts, struggles and motivations could help discerning readers better understand the unique yet understandable complexities of many transgendered people. That being said, conversely, for many who consider themselves transgendered, the choice is really a simple one. It is other people’s reactions that can be the more difficult part to deal with.

I felt there was a clear aim the author wished to achieve, but at times I found the narrative portions of the story overly descriptive, weighting and slowing the story down unnecessarily. It reminded me of the official description itself. Sometimes there is so much we are enthusiastic about, and feel so passionately to present we try to include it all. As a writer, I can’t say I haven’t done it because I have, but sometimes it’s a little weighty.

One thing I believe too many people seem to forget about fiction works such as “She’s My Dad” are that they are sometimes very much based on personal experience and knowledge. Just because they are fictional in presentation, does not make the emotions, situations and experiences any less true. And not that some writers who haven’t experienced the same can’t produce a creditable work about transgenderism, for me, it is crucially important when someone who has can so very poignantly present a story that is fiction yet in many ways is real. I can certainly see why this title was nominated for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the GLBT category in 2010.

Note: Although do understand the differentiation for GLBT because it’s just a fact it’s a category too often overlooked in awards because of the initial premise, I do think it should be able to have presentation and representation in whatever category listed on its own merits. There are many great works out there from and about GLBTIIQ people yet they are too seldom truly acknowledged.

Otherwise, as an intergendered person, all too often confused with transgenderism, although some similar feelings have been expressed by each, this was a curious book for me to read and review. It took many several attempts to start it, and to finish it, but that is nothing about the work itself but rather the feelings it can “engender.”

Description: “Don’t hate, Nicholas. Hate destroys everything. Don’t let it destroy you…”

For decades, ultra-liberal Windfield College has been a thorn in the side of Northern Virginia’s hidebound elite. When a teaching position unexpectedly becomes available, the school hires a former male graduate – now a transsexual woman named Nickie Farrell – as an assistant professor of English. Hoping to find peace, Nickie keeps her secret under wraps until ambitious lesbian student reporter Cinda Vanderhart outs her. And Cinda has noticed something else: both Nickie and a young townie waiter named Collie Skinner have a genetic quirk which causes their eyes to be different colors. Convinced that the similarity is no coincidence, Cinda begins an investigation to discover the connection between them.

Meanwhile, in a death-bed confession as she succumbs to years of brutality at the hands of her disgraced cop husband, Collie’s mother Luanne reveals that his birth resulted from an illicit affair she had with a long-vanished Windfield college senior named Nick Farrington. Shattered by his mother’s death, Collie turns for comfort to Robin Thompson, a gentle-hearted Christian co-worker at the upper-crust Foxton Arms restaurant. As Nickie is stalked by a pair of homicidal sociopaths, Robin finds herself entangled not only in Cinda’s investigative machinations but also a murderous plot by former U.S Ambassador and tycoon Eamon Douglass to eradicate the hated college with a suicide detonation of a Cesium 137 dirty bomb. Lives and secrets hang in the balance until everything comes to a head on the morning of Windfield’s annual spring picnic: April Fools Day.

Filled with richly-drawn characters and building to a stunning climax, SHE’S MY DAD is a story about the destructiveness of hate, the power of love, and the redemptive triumph of good over evil.

Like her title character Nickie Farrell, Iolanthe Woulff is a transsexual woman. A fifty-nine-year-old Princeton-educated English major, she lives in Palm Springs, CA, where for several years she wrote a column in a local magazine about the challenges of gender transition. As the eldest child of author Herman Wouk, storytelling has always been dear to Ms. Woulff’s heart. Her hope is that besides providing a suspenseful read, SHE’S MY DAD will help to dispel some of the widespread misconceptions about transsexual people.

Kindle Edition
Published November 13th 2009 by Outskirts Press, Inc.
ASIN: B0030EG3HW
Source: Author
literary awards

Author Bio:

 

Iolanthe “Lannie” Woulff came into the world as a male during the fifth year of the Truman presidency, which means that she is rapidly acquiring the status of an antique. In 1958 her family moved from Manhattan to the island of St. Thomas, which in those days was a sparsely-populated tropical dot in the Caribbean. There “Nate”, as Lannie was known in those days, spent several idyllic years gleefully swinging from jungle vines and swimming on the world’s most beautiful unspoiled beaches. She treasures many poignant memories of that lost paradise, which, alas, is no longer.

Moving back to the mainland in 1964, Lannie attended The Maret School in Washington, D.C. As the Vietnam War raged and protest movements convulsed the nation, she gained admission to Princeton, and after escaping the inaugural Selective Service lottery by a scant fourteen points, graduated in 1973 with a degree in English. For several ensuing years she lived in New York City and worked for her uncle, who was then developing an early prototype hybrid vehicle. That was during the Studio 54 era, the so-called “Me Decade”, which Lannie experienced at full throttle while writing a coming-of-age novel which fortunately remained unpublished.

In 1980, at the urging of her younger brother, she moved to Israel, where together they opened a diving business on the Red Sea. When the Lebanon War wiped out the tourist trade and with it their business, she returned stateside to raise pedigreed Black Angus cows on a family farm in northern Virginia’s famous Hunt Country. The rolling hills and pastoral beauty of that area provide the setting for SHE’S MY DAD.

Succumbing to the lure of the West in 1987, she finally settled for good in the California resort town of Palm Springs. Ten years later, fulfilling a lifelong imperative, Lannie commenced the complex and emotionally turbulent process of gender transition. During the process she authored a column called “The T Dance” in one of the local LGBT magazines, before turning her attention full-time to fiction writing.

Now happily (and legally) married to her soul mate Joleene, Lannie is the proud parent of a beautiful and accomplished daughter, loves to tease her generic tabby cat Xena, and looks forward to weekly strolls in the desert sunshine with her eminent father, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Herman Wouk.

SHE’S MY DAD is Lannie’s debut effort. Believing that one must always retain a sense of humor, she is writing another novel.

Website: http://www.iolanthewoulff.com

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