I started reading this book expecting something a little different. Actually, I don’t really know what I was expecting to be honest. I was interested in learning more about parenting a transgender child and honestly thought the book would be mainly about that. But The Bold World is a lot more than that, it’s a deeply honest, beautiful, and heartfelt memoir of life, learning, challenges, and love.
Yes, The Bold World is about navigating the discovery that your three year old, Penelope, knows he is a boy rather than the girl that society decided he was at birth. But that is just part of the story, because the main narrative is how Jodie Patterson got to that point in her life, and where she and her family have moved to since then. It is a memoir of growing up as a black girl in a somewhat traditional family setting, with parents who made sure her and her sister had a wide and varied knowledge of who they were and where they came from, but where gender-specific values were clearly defined. It is a memoir of self-discovery, of climbing mountains and barreling through challenges, of growing up, and of being human.
For some reason I was surprised at just how much I related to Jodie’s narrative, and how moved I am by this book. I often see my life as a jigsaw puzzle where I am constantly trying to make pieces fit while running on a treadmill backwards with my little humans pulling me in all directions. Obviously my children are not Jodie’s children, but I have a similar personality and mindset to hers’ and related to so much of what she says. We have similar parenting styles too, which made me smile a lot while reading. I admire how honest she is in her book about her life, her thoughts, her relationships, her parents, her children... I feel like a lot of it must have been difficult to write. And her honesty is an inspiration to all of us to be more forgiving of ourselves but also more open to seeing the world differently.
The other day my three year old said to me “I’m not a boy I’m not a girl I’m just RORA!!” - What else could I say but “yep you are Rora”? It’s up to us to let go with the rigid gender assignments and just accept that strict boxes are not the direction this world needs to be going in. I didn’t grow up in a very traditional household at all, but those rigid gender boxes still take a hold on us, and I really appreciated seeing how Jodie navigated through her choppy waters and how her family came together as one to grow stronger together.
The Bold World is also beautifully written: Jodie brings you into her family as if you are part of it, and I honestly feel like we are good friends now (I wish?!). I think many people will appreciate her insight, warmth, and honesty. I’m so glad I picked this one up, as once I started it I couldn’t put it down!
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy of this book!