Ciaran Richards’ father was a soldier. A hero.
But now he’s dead. Or is he?
A cautionary tale about the consequences of blind prejudice, SHE’S MY DAD tells the story of a transsexual woman named Nickie Farrell, who, returning to her Northern Virginia alma mater to teach English to a new generation of scholars, is unaware that in the nearby town lives a son from an illicit love affair she had during her male undergraduate days. As Nickie’s hopes to keep a low profile are dashed by an overly-ambitious lesbian journalism student, a dying reactionary billionaire hatches a scheme to obliterate the despised liberal school with a suicide dirty bomb attack. Local and college people alike become ensnared in a web of bigotry and mistrust, while one long-buried family secret may offer the only hope for everyone’s ultimate deliverance. 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.
Thankfully, recent years have ushered in a more progressive exploration of trans identity for without this shift books like She’s My Dad might not have made it into print. Impressively realized on all levels, this is Woulff at her very best, taking what is still to many a discomforting subject, and delivering an extraordinary story. Tartly off-beat, cleverly plotted and ultimately touching it proves a hard read to put down with a wonderfully intricate narrative thread that not only entertains but keeps readers off kilter to very near the end. It certainly isn’t your typical transgender story and with a strikingly strong sense of pace, there’s lots to commend it. There’s a truly eclectic mix of characters with Woulff ably bringing the salient players to life and in doing so she delivers a triumph of close observation and telling details. These alone are reasons to pick up a copy and begin reading but it’s Nickie Farrell around whom Woulff's story revolves and it’s through her that Woulff explores how important it is to live a courageous life and not let fear and prejudices stand in our way.
Simply summarized as excellent, She's My Dad proves an exceptional read
and is recommended without reservation.
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"Iolanthe “Lannie” Woulff came into the world as a male during the fifth year of the Truman presidency, which means that she is officially an antique. In 1958 her family moved from Manhattan to the island of St. Thomas, where “Nate”, as Lannie was then called, enjoyed swinging from jungle vines and swimming on beautiful unspoiled beaches. Moving back to the mainland as Vietnam protests convulsed the nation, Lannie gained admission to Princeton, and graduated in 1973 with a degree in English. For a while she lived in New York City, then Israel, then Virginia, but finally settled in the California resort town of Palm Springs. Eventually, fulfilling a lifelong imperative, Lannie commenced the complex and emotionally turbulent process of gender transition. She enjoys reading, fishing, target-shooting, cooking, doing absolutely nothing, and grilling steaks for her 102-year-old father, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Herman Wouk. Lannie has thus far published two novels: SHE’S MY DAD, and most recently, STAINER. Lord willin’ and the Creek don’t rise, more will follow."
About Iolanthe Woulff