Jennie's Reviews > Stone Butch Blues

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
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's review
Oct 06, 2009

it was amazing

There are some books that are so big to a genre or a topic that they are seminal. This is one of those books. If you are looking for a book to read so that you understand the experience of an LGBTQ person, this is (the) one to read. If you want to know the history of the LGBTQ movement, this is a book to read. If you want to understand the concept of gender not being binary, this is a book to read.

In short, if you are curious about the LGBTQ experience/history, if you are trying to explain your (or someone else's) LBGTQ experience to someone or want to understand the experience of someone who is gender queer or transgender, this is a wonderful tool with which to do so.

Feinberg is not the world's best techinical writer. Her prose isn't poetic and the language isn't flowery. This does nothing to take away from the power of the emotions she conveys or the impact of the characters' experiences. This book does a wonderful job of bringing in the changes that were going on in the world into the personal story of the main character. The setting of the social changes through the 50s-70s is an ever present backdrop. However, while civil right and Vietnam are specifically mentioned, they never become the centerpiece of the novel. They are only auxillary events happening to a distant "other" in the mind of the main character.

What is truly remarkable about this story isn't that she makes the main character sympathetic and relatable. What is remarkable is that she does this while showing the bigotry and faults of the main character. Jess has her own stereotypes and assumptions about people and has a hard time being open minded about things that may surprise the reader. She is flawed and she is real and because she isn't painted as a saint, you never feel that Feinberg is preaching at you. It never seems like she's saying "look how enlightened LGBTQ people are". Its more like "look how people LGBTQ people are". I think this is what I loved most about this book, there was no moral high ground, there was no perfect person, but many people trying to fight for their right to be who they are and exist in the world.

This book is a wonderful way to broaden your horizons, to open your mind and to examine how you think about gender and sexuality. I recommend it for everyone, not just straight people, not just LGBTQ people. Read it and remind yourself that every person is a person and deserves dignity and respect.
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