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I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  1,023 ratings  ·  175 reviews
What can we hope for at the end of the world? What can we trust in when community has broken our hearts? What would it mean to pursue justice without violence? How can we love in the absence of faith?

In a heartbreaking yet hopeful collection of personal essays and prose poems, blending the confessional, political, and literary, Kai Cheng Thom dives deep into the questions
Paperback, 144 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Arsenal Pulp Press (first published September 1st 2019)
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Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read this slow. It's dense, so resist the need to summarize your feelings in a soundbite or hot take. Just... Sit with it for a while. Then talk about it out loud (in person even!) with one friend. (This is not a casual books-and-wine club book.) ...more
Danika at The Lesbrary
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am so grateful for authors like Kai Cheng Thom, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and adrienne maree brown for taking on the difficult, important conversation around social justice as well as queer communities. For diving into the messiness and being honest and exploring the complexities at work. These essays have given me a lot to think about.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read because I've read Kai Cheng Thom's work and was blown away by her in previous years. This essay collection pulls back the curtain to the trauma that accompanies fame whether that comes from the work or being a SJW on the internet (self-declared, since I think of this as a negative term), questions the assumed safety inherit in queer communities, and proposes a few approaches of restorative justice moving forward.

Out from Arsenal Pulp October 8, I had a copy through E
May 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I found the poetic thread throughout this book moving, as well as the essays towards the end of the book where the author is really grounded in her experiences with family. These moments to me seemed to really embody the notion of what it means to choose love and how complicated that choice can be.

At the same time, the essays around thinking about harm fell flat for me.

I didn't care for the chapter on cancel culture, namely because I don't believe it exists in the way people like Thom describe
1. The life expectancy of trans women is not 35. This is a complete fabrication and spreading it is not helpful to anyone. Where the statistic came from and why it is false here:

2. Understanding legal frameworks is crucial to being able to discuss legal issues.

a. You cannot discuss involuntary treatment of the mentally ill without any discussion of capacity. You can not compare a capable adult telling a doctor or therapist, “Thanks but no thanks!” to a 4
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I had my library buy this book so I could read it; so I read the paperback version.

As I read the book, I felt like I wasn't the target audience. On one hand, I'm eager to learn more about the ways people reenact violence toward one another, while simultaneously thirsting for community. I felt like the essays really talked about this at length, and I enjoyed learning more about Kai's personal experience within queer spaces.

On other other hand, I have never been part of any queer community. Part
Isaac R. Fellman
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beautiful and powerful. There are arguments and critiques of queer community in here that I wouldn’t trust coming from most people, but that Thom has more than the moral authority and rigor of argument to handle. Glad I read this.
I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World by Kai Cheng Thom is a beautiful, heartbreaking, thought-provoking collection of poems and essays that delve into complex questions about belonging, healing, and hope in the LGBTQ community.

I absolutely adored this collection. As other readers have stated, it feels impossible to write a coherent review of this collection after only one read. This deserves to be read, digested, and discussed with others. I will definitely be re
Esther Espeland
Nov 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Ahaha this was timely! Tbh not a fan of her poetry or her writing style necessarily, but her takes were so hot that overall got a lot out of this! Really appreciated her essays on queer kinship structures, consent, mental health
Dawn Serra
What an extraordinary book. Kai's words echoed so many whispered conversations and hesitant offerings I've had over the past few years, wondering if our fate is an ever-constricting response to trauma. Kai holds a mirror up for all of us to gaze into with honesty, which means feeling into the ways we have each failed to treat others with grace, allowing that little rush of superiority to take us over, or the shame of having gotten something wrong and feeling like everything you've built will cru ...more
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This isn't really a review, because I don't know how to review nonfiction made up of essays* and poetry, but this was definitely a worthwhile read. It's an attempt to reframe how we think about justice and the meaning itself of healing in marginalized communities - where so many of us are traumatized, and it talks both about the concept of safety in the context of trauma and about the commodification of trauma in the Discourse™.

As there is a lot in here about how queer communities fail their mem
I'm so glad I got more into non-fiction this year, because otherwise I wouldn't have read some excellent books, including this one. It might be my favourite piece of non-fiction I've read this year so far.

I've learned a lot through the non-fiction I've read this year, but none of the books before this one were so relevant to my personal life. I'm a trans non-binary person who volunteers in my queer community and in social justice spaces. My experience is obvisouly different (more privileged) th
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a thought-provoking read, a discussion-inducing read and I am very glad I read it. That said, I am never quite sure how to rate nonfiction essay collections. So let's just say that the rating represents how I felt while reading and after reading.

'What I hope for is to live as brilliantly as the mothers and sisters I've never met. I want to live for the ones who don't, for the ones who went before. I Want To Live As Long and Lovingly as I Can' - Kai Cheng Thom
This essay collection
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Powerful !!!
Kat Rogue
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: trans-lit
So profoundly good and important. Vital reading for trans women, queers, and activists of all kinds.

I don't know how to talk about the impact of this writing. It's completely true, all of it.
“And we will have to give up our defences, our time-worn defences of dissociation and numbness, as well of those of rage and revenge. We have to be able to care, even when it seems impossible because caring would destroy us. We have to believe that we will survive each other, because there is something waiting for us when the ice melts.”

The description on the back of ‘I Hope We Choose Love’ says that it “proposes heartfelt solutions on the topics of violence, complicity, vengeance, and forgivene
This was a powerful and thought-provoking book on trans activism, queer communities and making them the safe and empowering spaces they claim to be (but don't always live up to), and how to look at restorative justice methods instead of casting people out in community when they say or do the wrong thing. With what feels like the end of the world in our politics and environment, how do we see and make our ways to better futures? Thom's work as a POC trans activist and counselor informs her thinki ...more
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The the point: This book makes me want to be a better person, friend, and ally, both inside and outside of the queer community. It's poignant, honest, heartfelt, and... kind. I'll be thinking about this one for some time. ...more
Katey Flowers
Jun 05, 2021 rated it liked it
This was a difficult book for me to read. There is a very heavy focus on suicide and self-harm, as well as many other potentially triggering topics (including abuse, violence, discrimination, etc, etc), so please be aware of that going in.

There was a lot of discussion that really made me think about my own assumptions and beliefs, which is something I really appreciate about this book. The author dared to ask questions I don’t think we ask enough. She also dared to reflect on those herself, in
Bryan Cebulski
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
The essays on leftist queer spaces, both online and IRL, are fantastic. They absolutely nail the fallibility of those spaces and address what we can do to heal from the wounds and accommodate the imperfections that cause it to be so fallible. Like they're so good and so relevant that I think they should be essential reading before anyone is allowed to log onto Twitter dot com.

Not as wild about the poetry, which just has that spoken word cadence to it that doesn't speak to me. Some of the persona
Alanna Why
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very thought-provoking collection of essays and poetry about activism, queer communities and the path towards true liberation. I really tried to resist reading this all in one shot, because each piece has a grain of nuanced knowledge that is worthy of long contemplation. The essays lean towards more of a blog/academic style, so I enjoyed that they were interspersed with more lyrical poems. I loved the section about restorative/transformative justice in particular (if anyone has suggestions to ...more
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gosh I love this!
Julie Avra
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book!!! Beautiful and meaningful and will stick with me in all sorts of parts of my life- social work, love, friendships, social justice, queer community. So glad I read this!
Noah Zazanis
Dec 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm very grateful for this book, and glad I finally read it. Kai Cheng Thom puts to words a lot of disperse, but interconnected, experiences common in queer and trans circles. A theme throughout the book is how our quest for "goodness", which we're often denied in our families of origin, can turn into violence against ourselves and each other.

I have some unanswered questions about the author's approach to transformative justice, but she did a great job explaining the implications of punishment a
I wasn't a fan of the poetry at all (rich coming from a woman who rated Rupi Kaur highly, but you know, my tastes have changed but to each their own), but I thought the essays were quite good and written well. The personal, more autobiographical essays were the best since the more pop-science essays came off weaker due to their lack of any real facts to back up Thom's points. My favourite essays were all in the third section, as that was the section that held the mainly personal essays. I just f ...more
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wanted nothing more than to speed read and annotate the shit out of this book -- unfortunately it was a library copy so I did not do the latter, fortunately I paced myself through each essay and poem so I could enjoy this book in its entirety. I will definitely be purchasing a personal copy to re-read several more times in the future, and will also be gifting this book to several of my friends.

This collection of essays made me laugh when thinking about my days a "university student activist",
a much-needed weaving together of multiple threads of reflection on rupture, harm, & repair as perpetrated & perceived by queer community, and the ways we have been betraying each other. a cresting wave of kai cheng thom's interventions into queer & radical culture through the tools of transformative justice over the past decade, settling into a firm & loving place: she is rooting into loving us, not validating us (as she says at the end of the first essay in the collection). presented with the ...more
Jun 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, nonfiction, lgbtq
Thom's criticisms of how people in queer communities and social justice spaces often fail one another are spot-on, though she offers few concrete suggestions for change. I wish that I had read this during my "wow, if I disagree with some of my fellow leftist queers, I guess that does indeed make me a bootlicker" crisis, because it would have given me a much-needed reality check.

Perhaps my favorite essay in this collection is the straightforwardly-titled "How Neoliberalism Is Stealing Trans Libe
Shannon Grant
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is good, and very intense. It is worth stopping after each essay and thinking about it. Because they were different essays and not (I think) intended initially to be one book, it was sometimes jarring (ie., occasionally one essay would say one thing and a later one would contradict that thought).
Joy B
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
This connected a lot of dots for me and led me to ask more questions to follow up on my own (although maybe they don't all have an answer or one simple answer). I think I will come back to this in future as I definitely read it too quickly, mostly in one sitting, during an infusion. This helped me realise things on a personal scale and a "community" one and has hopefully pointed me towards some solutions. ...more
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Kai Cheng Thom is a writer, performance artist, social worker, fierce trans femme and notorious liar who loves lipstick and superhero cartoons. A prolific essayist and poet, her work appears online in publications including BuzzFeed, xoJane, Everyday Feminism, and Autostraddle; and in print in Asian American Literary Review, Plenitude, and Matrix Magazine, among others. Her first collection of poe ...more

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