Book Corner: “At The Broken Places”

Title: At The Broken Places
Author(s): Donald Collins and Mary Collins
Pages: 192
Year: 2017
Apple iBooks Link

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Just a quick caveat: I know the authors of this book. Mary Collins is a family friend, and Donald Collins is a personal friend. He and I went to high school together. In fact, he gave me a shout out at the end of the book!

In short, this is a memoir about Donald coming out as transgender to his mother, Mary. The book covers both writers’ feelings at the time; Mary’s initial unease and transition into acceptance (for the most part), and Donald’s musings on his life changes and reaction to his mother’s unease.

This book’s primary audience is people who are not particularly aware of transgender issues. Along with each chapter is a glossary of terms that might be helpful. At the end of the book are interviews with parents of transgender children, as well as with transgender youth themselves. This book is a great primer for people who don’t know much about transgender issues.

It was an interesting, short read. However, with all due respect, I found Mary’s part to be somewhat contradictory. A large part of her own writings focused on her own internal conflict and confusion, being a socially liberal mother clashing with her own feelings about her son’s transgender identity.

While throughout the book she voices her support for transgender people, she seems unwilling to unequivocally apologize for her initial disgust toward her son’s coming out. After I finished reading, I was unsure exactly what Mary’s feelings are. She, herself, is perhaps not entirely certain; however, as a book vying to be a resource for families going through similar situations, clarity would have been appreciated.

I would still recommend this book to people looking to learn more about transgender issues. It won’t go terribly in-depth, but it is still a well-written memoir.