My Sister: How One Sibling’s Transition Changed Us Both by Selenis Leyva, Marizol Leyva

My Sister: How One Sibling’s Transition Changed Us Both by Selenis Leyva, Marizol Leyva
Publisher: Bold Type Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Contemporary, LGBTQ
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

A powerful memoir by two sisters about transitioning, family, and the path to self-realization.

When Orange Is the New Black and Diary of a Future President star Selenis Leyva was young, her hardworking parents brought a new foster child into their warm, loving family in the Bronx. Selenis was immediately smitten; she doted on the baby, who in turn looked up to Selenis and followed her everywhere. The little boy became part of the family. But later, the siblings realized that the child was struggling with their identity. As Marizol transitioned and fought to define herself, Selenis and the family wanted to help, but didn’t always have the language to describe what Marizol was going through or the knowledge to help her thrive.

In My Sister, Selenis and Marizol narrate, in alternating chapters, their shared journey, challenges, and triumphs. They write honestly about the issues of violence, abuse, and discrimination that transgender people and women of color–and especially trans women of color–experience daily. And they are open about the messiness and confusion of fully realizing oneself and being properly affirmed by others, even those who love you.
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Profoundly moving and instructive, My Sister offers insight into the lives of two siblings learning to be their authentic selves. Ultimately, theirs is a story of hope, one that will resonate with and affirm those in the process of transitioning, watching a loved one transition, and anyone taking control of their gender or sexual identities.

Touching, riveting and worth the read.

I knew this would be a gut-wrenching book when I picked it up. I can’t imagine being in Marizol’s position–having your body one way, but feeling another inside. Reading about her transition, the bullying, the fear, confusion…I wanted to hug her. I loved that Selenis and the rest of the family gave her the love and respect she deserved on this journey. The parts concerning her birth parents was particularly hard. I can’t imagine what she went through at the hands of her father.

This book has been described as an open letter between sisters or a dialogue between them. It is. This isn’t all from Selenis’s point of view. Yes, she tells of how she felt as Marizol transitioned, but it’s more about Marizol. Truly.

This book shows how one can accept themselves, how their family can accept them and how it’s okay to be authentic. You have to be yourself.

If you’re interested in reading about Marizol’s journey, then check this book out.