At the Broken Places

Collins, Mary and Donald Collins. At the Broken Places: a Mother and Trans Son Pick Up the Pieces. Boston: Beacon Press, 2017.

Reason read: for the Early Review Program through LibraryThing

The concept for At the Broken Places is unique. Mother and son tell a collaborative story of Donald Collins’s transition from daughter to son & all of the emotional upheaval they endured together (and apart) along the way. Because of their opposing viewpoints it must have been a very difficult time for both of them. This definitely make At the Broken Places a more dynamic story.
As an aside, it was interesting to read between the lines and hear what wasn’t being said. Mary indicated names are powerful and matter a great deal when she explained that at sixteen her daughter was “J” and referred to as She. When “J” insisted on being called Donald her daughter was then referred to as He. Her son. The death of a name ushered in the death of a daughter. It is further revealed Mary held some resentment over the name “Donald Oliver” because it single-handedly wiped out memorializing her father (“J’s” shared his initials).

At the Broken Places could serve a wide audience: people facing similar situations; people who want to educate themselves; even people in positions of authority charged with changing the status quo.

If I could quote At the Broken Places I would definitely include what Donald said on page 15 and again later in the book. As an aside, I found his side of the story smart, articulate, sensitive and honest. That is not to say I didn’t find Mary’s voice appealing. She was just more slickly professional and less raw in her writing.



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