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Tomboy Survival Guide

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,387 ratings  ·  215 reviews
Ivan Coyote is a celebrated storyteller and the author of ten previous books, including Gender Failure (with Rae Spoon) and One in Every Crowd, a collection for LGBT youth. Tomboy Survival Guide is a funny and moving memoir told in stories, in which Ivan recounts the pleasures and difficulties of growing up a tomboy in Canada’s Yukon, and how they learned to embrace their ...more
Paperback, 239 pages
Published October 18th 2016 by Arsenal Pulp Press (first published September 2016)
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Average rating 4.45  · 
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In case you had the wild notion that it wouldn’t be: Ivan Coyote’s latest and unbelievably 11th book is just as great, and possibly greater, than everything they’ve done up until now. If you’ve never read an Ivan Coyote book before, Tomboy Survival Guide would be a great one to start with, as I think it really shows this celebrated writer and storyteller at the height of their powers. But if you’ve read every single book Coyote has written, and seen them multiple times doing live performances li ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You know what I love in a person?


You know what else I love? Intelligence.

Layer on top of all that a good dose of kindness, and I am smitten. Completely in love.

I have fallen for Ivan E. Coyote in the same way that I am star-struck and weak-kneed over Barack Obama and Carol Off. I'm awed and breathlessly impressed. I want to have Coyote over for dinner. I want them to speak at my kids' school -- and maybe they will, if I have anything to do with it. I can't wait to have the opportu
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
You don't have to look a certain way to be a tomboy. Don't let anyone tell you that, ever, and please don't find that here in my words. Tomboy thrums in your heart. It's in your head. It's what is holding your spine in place. It can't be hidden by a haircut. It's not about nail polish or not. It's running right now in your veins. If it is in you, you already know. Tomboy blood is so much bigger than the outside of you.

I guess I'm late to the Ivan Coyote party. Tomboy Survival Guide is their
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, canadian, memoir
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book, by a newly discovered author. Coyote writes with much humour and compassion, and evoked so many memories for me. Fighting with siblings over the best individual cereal boxes with the perforated lines. Are You There God, it's Me Margaret. Crime of the Century. Tea for the Tillerman. Twister. Lite Brite. Many parts of my childhood resurfaced while I read this engaging book.
Robert Pearson
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Everyone should read this. There were a few stories not quite as strong as the others, but it feels like I am quibbling.
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An other amazing book by an amazing author. I was super excited about this book and really, I was not disappointed.

As usual, Ivan's stories are deeply moving and touching, and their discourse on gender is really on point.

One of my favourite passages from this book explains the problem with the (unfortunately) too common expression "trapped in the wrong body":

I am not trapped in the wrong body; I am trapped in a world that makes very little space for bodies like mine.

I live in a world where pu
This memoir is how memoirs should be.

Coyote's tender craftsmanship is incredible. Their vignettes are like memories, with a message they tie into their later life, like a lifeline. Each time you read a new vignette, you can feel it building and building, until they release it like a rope, coiling at your feet. The message comes through. This is why they wrote this.

Arsenal Pulp Press published this book and they are definitely one of my favourite publishers. They've included gorgeous illustrati
The Canada Reads 2018 theme is "one book to open your eyes"... This memoir made the long list but shockingly not the short list?! It can only be defined as an eye opening read for anyone, particularly those of us that fall into the mainstream heterosexual culture. Even those who claim to be open minded and welcoming.... Ivan Coyote invites us into the inside pysche and constant turmoil, even in acceptance, those who define themselves as Trans, deal with every single day. It's brilliant, beautifu ...more
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
All the feels.

"If anyone pinches anyone non-consensually, a unicorn can smell it and avoid the area, sometimes for months after the incident."
this made me way too happy.
Rebecca Jessen
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
'Writing about vulnerable things doesn't make me feel vulnerable. Writing about my tenderest bits is the only way I know how to have power over them. Staying silent would leave me alone with them. My silence is what makes me vulnerable.'

I have all the feels for this book and this beautiful human. There is such warmth in these stories, I cried more than a few times at points of difference and similarity. Read it so you understand, even just a little, what that other life is like - that life you h
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer
As always, Ivan Coyote gets me right in the feels. I haven't encountered any other authors' works that make me feel as understood, comforted, and part of a community. As a gender non-conforming person, their stories soothe my soul especially in these tumultuous political times.

In this collection of all new stories, Ivan weaves tales of first loves, navigating growing up different, dealing with strangers and friends and gender, unexpectedly inspirational school presentations, and how grandparents
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I am not trapped in the wrong body, I am trapped in a world that makes very little space for bodies like mine." This book is warm, well written, and moving. Detailed snapshots of Ivan's life show their struggles with not fitting into a gender binary as a young tomboy turned butch. But Ivan also highlights the pockets of beauty throughout their life, such as the relationship with their grandmother, who had secrets of her own she didn't share until much later in her life. I felt like I was really ...more
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My friend Becki gave this book to me when she finished reading it for Curious Iguana's Read Broader initiative, and I'm so grateful she did. Ivan Coyote is a wonderful storyteller--honest, warm and true.
Flint Xavier
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
"I am not trapped in the wrong body; I am trapped in a world that makes very little space for bodies like mine"

I have been trying to write a review for this book all morning, but I just can't think of the words for Coyote's writing. I absolutely loved this book.
Danika at The Lesbrary
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this! I really missed reading Ivan Coyote's writing. It's just so... fortifying.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I always hope to come across a few books that make me feel seen. This was one of them and I am forever grateful.
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I finished this in one sitting and had to have a little cry. Moving and fantastically well written.
3.5 stars. I like Ivan Coyote's story-telling style a lot, and would love to see them perform one day. This memoir/collection has an easy humour and is moving, as it explores their working-class Yukon/BC roots, family history, and experiences living first as a lesbian and then as transgender. It was less of a revelation for me than their previous work with Rae Spoon, Gender Failure, but I think would make a great introduction for many readers who aren't all that familiar with transgender issues ...more
Lisa H
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Ivan is an amazing storyteller and I felt so many emotions while reading tales of their life. I identified with so much of it. I laughed. I cried. Each of the chapters were touching, some in ways that I didn't expect. this is a must read for anyone who has ever given any thought to what gender is and what it is like to live somewhere beyond the two tiny boxes that our society has given us.
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
they made me cry and laugh at the same time, and help me realize a bit more of who I am. this is how I want to write.
Yukari Peerless
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ivan Coyote is a national treasure.
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I want to start off saying that this book was incredibly relatable and very eye opening. I loved the short story aspect this book was written in which allowed me to stop after a particularly hard chapter and reflect on it. Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought using the washroom or change room for some people could be such a challenge.

When I was in high school and even to this day, I find, some days, I prefer to wear "men's clothing" over "women's clothing" and I guess it might be becau
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ivan Coyote recounts their time growing up a tomboy in Northern Canada as well as the struggle they endured - and continue to endure - surrounding their gender identity.

It’s not often I’ll approach a writer eleven books deep into their catalog without beginning at the beginning but given this is more of a catch-all memoir in the style of popular modern essay writers like David Sedaris, Tomboy Survival Guide was as good a spot as any to approach Ivan.

Stories like this are a sobering reminder that
Charles Tor
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I came across this book only a few months after realising how important it was that I stop suppressing and start celebrating the he that had always been alongside my she. Such a denial of who I was by insisting someone such as me was a femme left me feeling isolated, repressed, and lost.

Ivan helped me a lot in feeling less alone when I’m glared at in the women's bathrooms. They helped me feel better about how I’m seen as “one of the girls” and feeling like a fraud due to my non-binarity, and eve
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
CanadaReads longlist time is upon us and I have already found a book that made me feel as much as Andre Alexis's Fifteen Dogs. The pictures of being young here are bonkers accurate and real that I don't normally find in books I normally read: the giant pedestal the small corn pops box that you can use the microperf'd parts to make a cardboard bowl out of the box... frig, that was such a perfect way to capture being a kid.

There is a story in here about Ivan going to a school in Oregon to talk and
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked it… the beginning felt a bit boring, the later stories were super touching in that way that makes me cry good fluffy tears.

And while reading, I discovered just how not-butch I am, and how also not very masculine, and that I was never much of a tomboy – which shouldn't surprise me, but like, I guess I just assumed that as a transmasculine person I would be more of those things. Instead I practiced my french braid while reading.
Kenneth Wade
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tomboy Survival Guide is a beautiful and necessary book for trans and non-binary communities and their allies. I look forward to exploring the rest of Ivan Coyote’s works, because I absolutely loved this one.
Few books can make me laugh and cry within pages of one another, but this one contained a multitude of emotions. I absolutely cannot recommend this enough.

5 out of 5 stars
Ai Miller
This was just so kind; you can really feel welcomed by it, and the stories are so engaging and tell so much. I appreciate Coyote's attention to care throughout, as well as the multiple responses to people asking for help. The brief interludes are also beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking. Just such a good book, and one I'd strongly recommend for both trans folks and cis people.
Dana Neily
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
An immensely enjoyable and informative collection of thoughts and stories about gender and family and learning to be yourself.
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Ivan Coyote was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. An award-winning author of six collections of short stories, one novel, three CD’s, four short films and a renowned performer, Ivan’s first love is live storytelling, and over the last thirteen years they have become an audience favourite at music, poetry, spoken word and writer’s festivals from Anchorage to Amsterdam.

Ivan E. Coyote,

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