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What We Will Become: A Mother, a Son, and a Journey of Transformation

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  328 ratings  ·  73 reviews
A mother’s memoir of her transgender child’s odyssey, and her journey outside the boundaries of the faith and culture that shaped her.

From the age of two-and-a-half, Jacob, born “Em,” adamantly told his family he was a boy. While his mother Mimi struggled to understand and come to terms with the fact that her child may be transgender, she experienced a sense of déjà vu—th
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published November 12th 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Miranda Reads
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tucker_recs

Feeling inspired - so there's a Bonus BookTube Video this week - all about the most impactful Pride books I have read.

Now that you know this one made list, check out the video to see the rest.
Onwards to the written review!

God did not make mistakes, therefore it was I who must be fundamentally flawed.
It never occurred to me that my rabbis could be wrong.
Being a mother of a transgender child is a controversy in and of imagine if the transgender child is under the age
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)

Many thanks to Lisa at HMH for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review
"Feeling sure this is right does not mean, I realize, that there is no pain.

This book was so hard to read but I am so, so glad I read it. It reminded how much progress we've made but also how much progress we have to make.

So, what's this book about?
From the age of two-and-a-half, Jacob, born “Em,” adamantly told his family he was a boy. While his mother Mimi struggled to understand and come to terms
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I could not have selected a better or more inspiring book to read than Mimi Lemay’s dual story of discovering who we are despite outside pressures and assumptions.

The story centers around Em, her daughter, insisting that he is a boy. Despite all of the issues, Lemay and her husband decided to search for answers and find a course that could make Em find a true identity and ensure their family solidarity.

The story within the story is Lemay’s own transition from her stringent Orthodox Jewish root
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Lemay’s experience as mother to Jacob was raw and authentic as she described her journey from confusion and powerlessness to insight and belief in her child and Jacob’s feelings and “choices.” She drew me in...not as much so with her own journey from Orthodox Jew to ?? But her experience as a mother who really listened to her child resonated with me and I’m so glad she continues to use her voice on behalf of transgender rights.
Sandell Morse
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Mimi Lemay, author of What We Will Become: A Mother, a Son, and a Journey of Transformation, is a talented writer. I want more of her story and more of Jacob's story.

Michelle Adamo #EmptyNestReader
What We Will Become: a Mother, a Son, and a Journey of Transformation is an amazing story of a family whose middle daughter, since the age of about 2 1/2, insists that she is a boy. ”A transgender identity is a deeply held, usually permanent identification with a gender that is different than the one you were assigned at birth based on your sex.” Initially believing that “Em” is deeply emeshed in her own make-believe, Lemay and her husband begin to struggle with her determination, her anger, her ...more
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If I could give this book 10 stars I would. I knew the general story about the family from being a New Englander and reading about them in local newspapers (they live in my sister's town of Melrose, MA) but really didn't expect the backstory of Mimi's ultra-Orthodox upbringing and what she had to do to live her own authentic life. While reading the letter that Mimi wrote to Jacob which went viral in 2015, I had to flip back and forth to look at the photos of Em and then Jacob. The life in his ey ...more
Alexandra Yarborough
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book so much. Everyone should read it :)
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was very good, and I find myself now wanting to know more — about both transgender and Jewish populations. Loved the juxtaposition of her own upbringing and that of her own family. Most of all I loved the universal message of motherly love woken throughout. I highly recommend this book for that alone.
Michele Markley
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book.
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
I'd give Jacob's story a 5+. It's honest, heartfelt, and just remarkable. He is an amazing young man and his parents are the very definition of love. The book got a little slow with Mimi's story, however. I think it belonged in the book, as it provided insight into the family dynamics, but it was just so long it became more of a distraction than an addition. Still, I would highly recommend this book. Lemay is a talented writer and a great mom. I look forward to hearing more about Jacob. ...more
Jordana Horn Gordon
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beyond riveting. I wanted even more.
Rachel L
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, courageous book about a mother’s journey to recognize her child is transgender. This story is told parallel to the author’s history growing up Ultra Orthodox. The writing is brilliant and captivating, the story reminds us that openness and love are what we need most. Thank you, Mimi and Jacob for sharing your story with all of us. We are better for it. You have already touched so many lives and undoubtedly will touch so many more.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sometimes when deciding how to deal with the future, it’s necessary to review your past – to understand your relationship with your parents before you can understand your relationship with your children. This is the case with Mimi Lemay whose memoir, “What We Will Become: A Mother, a Son, and a Journey of Transformation” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), offers two starting points: the first, what occurs when one of her young daughters declares she is a boy and, the second, when looking at her own tr ...more
Sofia The Great
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, bios, lgbt
I felt the transgender son storyline was just a subplot. The focus was mostly about the author and her upbringing.
Carlos Neu
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hard for me to decide where to start this review. But let me begin by stating that listening to Mimi narrate her book made my experience of listening even better. Audible's narrations are all wonderful but Mimi telling her story made it so real filled with nuance, textures and color.
What is so impressive about WHAT WE WILL BECOME is that while this is the very personal story of Mimi and Jacob and her other two daughters and her husband, it readily lends itself to inviting us to explore where we
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's rare that I bring home a library book I've reserved (sometimes many months prior, but in this case, just two months ago), read the inside cover flap as I'm putting away my coat (usually to remind myself why I was on my reserve/hold list), then immediately start reading. It's even more rare when 28 hours later-- despite entertaining guests for three hours, hosting a meeting that I also had to prepare for, and various other miscellany--I finish the book and sit sobbing over it after I've clos ...more
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I came across Jacob’s journey a year after starting my own and I was immediately moved by his story. At the time, the resources to help people in the trans community were very limited; a matter which is addressed in the book. Now, nearly 5 years later, I find myself better acquainted with his story through the book his mother, Mimi has written; which incorporates her own journey through her faith and an exploration of her own identity.

The further I got into the book, the more I was able to see
Katherine G Bickford
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is so, so good. My entire weekend has been engulfed, so be warned.

It’s the story of crossing the threshold between lonely, heartbreaking, unfulfilling safety, through the dark night of the soul into what ultimately becomes purpose and fulfillment.

The question that builds softly and ultimately belts, asks of our duty to bring our gifts to full expression as divine actualization. Mimi’s extraordinary intellect (and beauty) are in humble yet exquisite display throughout the book. They exp
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
This book was received as an ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

I have heard this story before on a 20/20 special on transgender and its impact on America and heard the story of Mimi and her then daughter Em who kept telling everyone that she was a boy and then later went transitioned and now is named Jacob. Hearing Mimi's story and how this movement impacted her life was very life changing and
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I wondered a quarter the way through the book why I was getting a dissertation on the author's life as an Orthodox Jew as seriously what did that have to do with the subject of the book?!

But the author introduced Genesis Ch 27 and indicated that God orchestrated the exchange between Jacob, Isaac, and Esau. He knew the outcome because he engineered the moment, in the same way, God engineered her life in and out of Orthodox Judaism. If she had taken the teachings of the Torah to heart and she did
Jul 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda Albert
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a profound story, beautifully written, interweaving Mimi's transition from an ultra-observant Hasidic Jewish lifestyle, with the realization that her second child, born a female, was in fact a transgender boy. The book is tender, and heart-breaking in places, but it helped to increase my understanding that transgender people don't just arrive at that realization when they reach puberty or beyond. Science is discovering possible biological reasons why "the head and heart don't match the body ...more
Really two stories. The first story is of women and her upbringing as an orthodox Jew from a broken family. The second story is of a the same women who is now the mother of a daughter who is figuring out her gender and later the daughter becomes her son.

Really good to learn about two different minority groups transgender children and othrodox Jews. But i didn't like how the storytelling alternating chapters. I would have prefered two separate parts one for each story. Also maybe more drawing off
Dec 26, 2019 added it
I find it impossible to rate this book. Lemay's writing is lush, full of strong imagery and wonderful words. Her writing is actually wonderful. I could have done with a great deal less of her religious background and spiritual struggles, and much more of how she and her family supported their son.
I realize every writer has to tell her story in her own way; all the confusing religious stuff was tricky for me to sort out. There were really two memoirs in this book.
I would still recommend this book
Karrie S
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was an excellent book by an extremely extraordinary woman.

It took me longer to get through it, bc she told her life story in alternating chapters of her story about her kids, mainly the middle one. She grew up Jewish, which I’m not very familiar with, and I had to stop and think several times bc I wanted to get what she was talking about. It was worth it, bc it DOES have a point near the end. More like a shock I never saw coming.

And Jacob was born into the right family with the right pare
Dec 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book. It is a memoir in alternating chapters, about a former ultra-orthodox Jew, and her transgender son, who knows by age 2 1/2 that he is a boy, although born a girl.
But the chapters on the mother's own background are distracting and shoehorned into the author's attempt to show that her own grappling with religious issues as an adult are as difficult as her son's transformation.
It's really more 2 stars than 3, but I give it an extra point because it is an important subjec
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book made my heart hurt with pain, and with love. The author's narration of her journey contains an abundance of her personal backstory, but this understanding is so important to her internal struggles with her child. And I applaud her courage for dissecting her feelings and then laying them out for all to read. Thank you, for taking something private and making it very public, and I hope this bravery helps other families walking similar journeys. ...more
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mimi wrote her story and her son's story in such a way that I was drawn in from the first page-I could feel and really understand what the Lemay family was going through-a transformation that showed Mimi's childhood through adult hood and then Em's transformation to Jacob. It was very well written and it made me understand and see how much love and support this family has. I was also educated on this topic of transgender children- Thank you so much for sharing your story! ...more
Barbara Smoyer Peterson
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book! I was completely engrossed both in the author's story of growing up ultra-Orthodox Jewish, and her transformation, as well as her son Jacob's transformation. Lemay's writing is so moving, heartfelt--I felt so much emotion in her writing. She also tells a good story--this was a total page-turner for me.
By the way, apparently today is Jacob's birthday, so: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JACOB!!
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