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The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  453 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Inspired by her transgender son, activist Jodie Patterson explores identity, gender, race, and authenticity to tell the real-life story of a family's history and transformation.

"A courageous and poetic testimony on family and the self, and the learning and unlearning we must do for those we love."--Janet Mock

In 2009, Jodie Patterson, mother of five and beauty entrepreneur,
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by Ballantine Books (first published January 29th 2019)
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Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To see more reviews check out MI Book Reviews.

I got an ARC of this book.

I went into this book with a bit of apprehension because of the name Penelope being used and then the book being about a trans person, but not by the trans person. I was blown out of the water though. This book is so much more than I ever expected and addressed my issues and then some. So If you were on the fence about this book, let me convince you you need to read it as soon as you can get a copy.

First, Penelope is the
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is exactly what the world needs more of.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Michaela: ---Full disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---

Dnf late in ch. 2, at ~45 pages. Patterson clearly has decent skills w/ language, but maybe not in story-telling. At this point I should give a damn about at least one person in this book. Throughout the opening I was flip-flopping on caring, but it turned into a litany of, "My Dad was like this: ....., my Mom was like this...., my sister was like this...., & then I went to college." She grew up privileged, w/

Tonstant Weader
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Bold World is described as a memoir about raising a trans child, but it is far more than that. Author Jodie Patterson’s youth, education, and early years didn’t happen as a prelude to parenting her child, that is not how life works. Her story had meaning and value before she became a trans parent. That she was raised to be bold, even when she didn’t feel bold, would have served her well in any circumstance, but sure was useful when her three-year-old informed her that he was a boy. In an ...more
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“We are who we are not because of the body, but because of the soul”

I went into this book not knowing much about Jodie Patterson, and assuming the focus of the book would be mostly about her transgender son. But this book was so much more than that - this is Jodie’s story. She lays it’s all out: her fascinating, non-stop, dynamic, full life. Her upbringing in New York, her days at Spelman College, becoming a mother to 5 kids, and becoming an advocate. Always changing and adapting.

This book isn’
Emi Bevacqua
Like its author Jodie Patterson, this book is small but has a lot going on inside it. Some great advice on how to raise a strong black family, how to value and celebrate marriage-merging of cultures, and how to instill confidence in a transgender child. Also an interesting and honest look at difficulties the author faced in both her marriages and variegated career; and finally her transformation from a young mom running a beauty business who exaggerates gender norms in her early parenting ...more
Karen Ashmore
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jodie Patterson describes her family’s struggles in the civil rights movement as an upper middle class Black family. She explores her life as a Black woman. But nothing compares to their struggle as a trans family. Their daughter Penelope insists he is a boy at an early age. This memoir follows their family’s struggle and growth as they learn to accept his gender identity. An honest and meaningful story.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible memoir. I read it on Netgalley and I can’t wait to buy it for our library. Tackling everything from race and gender to parenting and being a strong woman-her writing is engaging and powerful and I had my eyes opened to all sorts of new perspectives. Very grateful to have come across it.
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this memoir, but I cannot pinpoint why.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sweet book. So much love.

Thanks to author,publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free,it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such an important read!
Megan Byrd
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-books-read
In this memoir, Jodie talks about the influence of her family growing up and learning what it meant to be black and a woman. She was influenced by cultural norms and had to fight through some of them to become who she wanted to be. She acquired strength and determination through the examples of the women in her life who fought for racial equality in a number of ways.
She also talks a lot about motherhood and her different experiences and growing pains in raising her kids and having a blended
Donna Giles
I didn't care for this much at all. Much better was "This is How it Always Is." Small percentage of the book actually about the child. (
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-read
Book Review: The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation
Author: Jodie Patterson
Publisher: Random House Books/Ballantine
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Review Date: January 14, 2019

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is an excellent memoir of an interesting life lived by the author, Jodie Patterson. She grew up in New York City on the Upper West Side. She spent time in Georgia with her maternal relatives and was enveloped in
Jul 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: justice, memoir, n-f
3.5 Stars. This memoir grabbed me and didn’t let go. I was captivated by the story of the Patterson-Becker-Ghartey family. Jodie Patterson tells of growing up an African American girl in an affluent family in upper-west-side Manhattan. The family dynamic during this part of her life leaves her feeling not good enough, in spite of supportive parents, strong extended family and excellent education. Her sojourn at Atlanta’s Spelman College (an HBCU) helps her first define herself as a strong Black ...more
Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)
Thank you to NetGalley, Ballantine Books, and Jodie Patterson for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

- Hearing all of the author’s life lessons learned through there personal experiences, from friends and family, and through parenting
- The power of the Black Panther Movement for her
- Discussions of power
- Representation: trans boy in a black family
- The overall journey of her son and learning to be a part of the trans community

- The life lesson: to
The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation is both beautifully and powerfully written. Uncompromising in its honesty, and impressive in its handling of all societal topics covered, Jodie Patterson's memoir includes her childhood, dealing with various cultures, her early relationships and marriages, becoming a mother, becoming an activist for transgendered people and growing into her own self. Along the way she tells us:

what it means to be a woman,
what it means to be a black woman,

Synopsis: Jodie Patterson shares her story of growing up black on the Upper West Side in New York, to attending an all-black women’s college in the south, to building a unique family unit and adapting to her transgender son, Penelope.

Writing: A. Although it’s pretty exposition heavy, focusing on Jodie’s thought processes of her experiences, this book is a beautifully written portrayal of a black woman coming into her own.

Insights: A+. While I read this for the exploration of
Tangled in Text
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a beautiful and bold journey of acceptance and love. Jodie is one badass, passionate mamma who had me jealous of her love. She fought a fiery, uphill battle against stigmas and ignorance once she found out her daughter identified as male, but her love towards him still illuminated every page.

It was inspirational to see her jump in wholeheartedly by learning as much as possible during this new development and having some very open and honest discussions with him and her other children,
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookshelf, nonfiction
As Jodie Patterson writes, "The world is unkind to people it doesn't understand." Compassion and love begin with understanding and acceptance, which Patterson sets out to achieve in her memoir The Bold World. While the crux of the book is about raising a transgender son and becoming an activist for the LGBT community, Patterson also spends a significant portion on detailing her childhood and how it shaped her into the woman she is today (Patterson comes from a long line of civil rights activists ...more
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queers
This book isn’t quite as easy a read as Janet Mock’s books. I am fairly certain it’s the first book I’ve read about a trans boy, which I hadn’t realized. It talks about the conflict between telling girls that they don’t have to express their gender in traditional ways and they are still 100% girls, and trans boys, who are telling the world that they are BOYS. I appreciate how hard it must be to distinguish the two.

I liked reading about Jodie’s parents and upbringing and college experience. I
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I truly enjoyed reading this book I went into it blind . I saw it on the shelf at my library and picked it up because I liked the cover it spoke to me, I should have know then that it was a book I would love . This book really makes you stop and think. What does family mean and how does that look, it shows how having support can really help
You blossom and come into your own . It reminds you to advocate for those who can’t do it for themselves . How choosing to parent the kids you have not you
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brave story of a black woman’s journey into becoming a woman, a mother, and an advocate for all her children. Jodie Patterson writes eloquently about complex issues of self-identity, gender, and self-love.

I am inspired by the determination to tell her family’s journey with their son, Penelope. This story is essential because as Patterson says, talking about issues related to feelings and identities and souls is a privilege only afforded to the privileged. More nuanced stories and memoirs from
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway and was so excited to dig into a book I had read such good things about; Jodie Patterson did not disappoint. I throughly enjoyed reading about her life’s unfolding, in it’s entirety, her childhood, relationships and parenting experiences where so interesting to me and I so appreciate and am inspired by her advocacy and passion for loving and raising the children you have - not the children you thought you had or that society would tell ...more
Chelsea Lyn Roden
Jodie Patterson is on a mission to make the world a better place for kids like her trans son, Penelope. However, her resulting memoir is not a rehashing of interviews, facts, and statistics about the transgender experience. Instead, Patterson dissects the pivotal moments of her life—from childhood to motherhood—to pinpoint her relationship to her self-identity, her blackness, and her expressions and understandings of gender. The resulting work is deeply thought-provoking with an intersectional ...more
Anne Meyer
This book captures so beautifully the experience of parenting a transgender child -- the turmoil of emotions, the intense desire to protect and advocate, the conflict it creates, the uncertainty of every step in the journey, but all of it motivated by love and the need for the child to grow up healthy and happy and safe. Patterson's prose puts into precise words what the mind thinks and the heart feels. But this book is so much more than just about parenting a transgender child. She also taps ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would rate this more in the realm of 3 1/2 stars, but I accidentally bought a used, uncorrected proof, so that might make a half star difference??

I was interested in this memoir mostly because Patterson discusses her experience with a transgender child and I wanted to understand that better. In my search for the book, I came across a mini-documentary of her family and in it she was unflinchingly radiant with a glow that resonates in her words and her vision. She’s a compelling presence on
Heidi | Paper Safari Book Blog
This book was very different than I expected but it was also more than I expected. I expected a tale of a woman raising a trans gender child instead what I got was a rich history of an African-American matriarchy who have created strength, community, culture, and comfort to their family. It is a book about a family where gender roles were very specific and learning how to bend them. It is a beautiful book dedicated not to just Jodie parenting her son Penelope (he still wants to use this name) ...more
Matthew Holley
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderfully written book, but I was expecting more of it to be about the experience/process of being the parent of a transgender child; instead, the book focuses on her own personal and family history before getting to the subject at hand about half way through. And while I was interested and engaged in this history, I think that overall it could’ve used a bit more editing, and it makes me unsure if it’s the most effective choice of a book to recommend to other parents of trans kids. But ...more
Abby Henderson
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. I imagined it focused more on the story of a parent with a trans child. In reality, it was more about a girl who was raised to be a strong black woman in America and how through that empowering upbringing, comfortable in her own skin, was able to translate it into a complete and thorough acceptance of her daughter when she told her she was really a boy. I fell in love with Jodie and her story is what we need more of in America today. Our country feels so broken. ...more
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Jodie Patterson is a social activist, entrepreneur, and writer. She has been lauded for her activist work by Hillary Clinton, The Advocate, Family Circle, Essence, Cosmopolitan, and Yahoo!, among others. She sits on the board of a number of gender/family/human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, and is a sought-after public speaker addressing a wide range of audiences about ...more
“For a black woman in America, to know that power is to experience being raised from the dead. —ELAINE BROWN, A Taste of Power” 0 likes
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