Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family
Author: Amy Ellis Nutt
Publisher: Random House, 2016
Paperback Edition: 262 pages plus Sources, Resources, Glossary, and Reader’s Guide
Source: Personal Copy
This book can be a difficult read because of the heartrending nature of the true story told, and the strong emotions a reader feels for children and family who must endure intolerance because a child is different. Wayne and Kelly Maines are parents of twin boys. From an early age one of the twin children, Wyatt, presents as a female. This is the coming-of-age story of a transgendered child and of her family. Perhaps telling this story was also difficult for the author.
Amy Ellis Nutt, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, writes a clear, compelling, factual narrative of the family and their experiences. She is never overwhelmed by the emotionality of the story. She demonstrates understanding, tolerance and respect toward all involved in the lives of the Maines family: parents, twins Jonas and Wyatt who becomes Nicole, and others they interact with in the state of Maine where they live. All the members of the family exhibit great courage in the face of an unexpected life experience.
Reading this compelling story, this reader felt a degree of shame to realize the fearful feelings I experienced in confronting this book. Stories of mistreated and misunderstood children often cause dread, fear, and strong feelings of unhappiness. I mourn for the children, the families and our intolerant society toward those who are different than others.
There is factual learning to be found in this presentation. The author includes new, important information about brain development. She explains terms and includes a glossary. She speaks of organizations, laws, schools, courts and more involved in this situation. Meaning, honesty and empathy are hallmarks of her writing. She creates a clear, readable text. As expected, different aspects of the story will appeal to different readers.
Nicole’s triumphant transformation occurs after many struggles. She and her family are an inspiration to others. This reader thanks the Maines family, so generous in sharing their story. It is a courageous and powerful book, but there is no discounting the fact it also takes putting aside fear and trembling for some to read it. I guess that calls for pride rather than shame. Hats off to this author Amy Ellis Nutt, the Maines family and most of all Nicole.