Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Book Review: "The Rest of the Way"

The Rest of the Way, by longtime PFLAGer Enid Duchin Jackowitz, refers to the Talmudic story many Christians think of as the Prodigal Son. In the Talmudic version, when the king asks his son to come home, the son replies that he cannot travel that far. The king responds “Then come as far as you can, and I will meet you the rest of the way.”

This book is about Ms. Jackowitz’s journey the rest of the way when her older son comes out to her as gay.

There are a number of books about coming out by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people where they tell their stories. There are also a number of books by therapists and other professionals dissecting the struggles most gender variant people go through. The Rest of the Way is more about how coming to terms with the author’s son’s gay identity leads the author toward much greater awareness of herself.

Like many of us, Ms Jackowitz’s life was constrained by her need to meet other people’s standards. This need is deeply ingrained in all of us. We learn from our earliest awareness that some actions and attitudes are accepted (or demanded) in our social environment while others are taboo. Accepting her son’s reality meant giving up many of those acceptable attitudes and accepting many of those she was taught were taboos.

The Rest of the Way takes us along on her journey. It is one those of us who love our children must also travel. Our journeys require a great deal of thoughtful insight into our own needs and recognition that we cannot accept changes in someone else without changing ourselves.

-Reviewed by Dave Parker, PFLAG board member and founder of PFLAG's TNET (Transgender Network)

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