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A Year Without a Name: A Memoir

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How do you know if you are transgender? How do you know if what you want and feel is real? How do you know whether to believe yourself? Cyrus Dunham’s life always felt like a series of imitations—lovable little girl, daughter, sister, young gay woman. But in a culture of relentless self-branding, and in a family subject to the intrusions and objectifications that attend fa How do you know if you are transgender? How do you know if what you want and feel is real? How do you know whether to believe yourself? Cyrus Dunham’s life always felt like a series of imitations—lovable little girl, daughter, sister, young gay woman. But in a culture of relentless self-branding, and in a family subject to the intrusions and objectifications that attend fame, dissociation can come to feel normal.


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How do you know if you are transgender? How do you know if what you want and feel is real? How do you know whether to believe yourself? Cyrus Dunham’s life always felt like a series of imitations—lovable little girl, daughter, sister, young gay woman. But in a culture of relentless self-branding, and in a family subject to the intrusions and objectifications that attend fa How do you know if you are transgender? How do you know if what you want and feel is real? How do you know whether to believe yourself? Cyrus Dunham’s life always felt like a series of imitations—lovable little girl, daughter, sister, young gay woman. But in a culture of relentless self-branding, and in a family subject to the intrusions and objectifications that attend fame, dissociation can come to feel normal.

30 review for A Year Without a Name: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Cyrus Grace Dunham delivers a thought-stirring and powerful memoir about their gender identity and eventual gender transition. At the center of the story is Cyrus Grace’s unresolved feelings about where they stand with their gender identity. The emotions reverberate from the pages, and the writing is insightful and direct. This book requires contemplation. It begs you to think and feel and stretch your understanding. I’m so grateful to have spent time with it. I received a complimentary copy from Cyrus Grace Dunham delivers a thought-stirring and powerful memoir about their gender identity and eventual gender transition. At the center of the story is Cyrus Grace’s unresolved feelings about where they stand with their gender identity. The emotions reverberate from the pages, and the writing is insightful and direct. This book requires contemplation. It begs you to think and feel and stretch your understanding. I’m so grateful to have spent time with it. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. Many of my reviews can also be found on instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  2. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Brett

    I feel like giving this book two stars because of my experience reading it, but it’s not bad, and more trans voices in publishing is great, so I’m bumping it up a star. Cyrus’s writing is straightforward & very honest but the book overall didn’t cohere well for me—they talk about that so maybe it’s a self-aware lack of cohesion, but for me, it makes it harder to engage. I’m not sure why it all started with Zoya—I guess it kind of made sense but also..? And I can’t help but notice how immensely p I feel like giving this book two stars because of my experience reading it, but it’s not bad, and more trans voices in publishing is great, so I’m bumping it up a star. Cyrus’s writing is straightforward & very honest but the book overall didn’t cohere well for me—they talk about that so maybe it’s a self-aware lack of cohesion, but for me, it makes it harder to engage. I’m not sure why it all started with Zoya—I guess it kind of made sense but also..? And I can’t help but notice how immensely privileged they seem. They acknowledge it but it was still hard for me to read without becoming distracted by it. My overall impression is that this book might be extremely impactful for anyone going through the exact same thing, but not for me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I decided to start November out seeing how many memoirs I could read. This memoir is an excellent capture of grappling with genderqueer identity. I've marked a bunch of places that resonate with experiences friends of mine have had, but I've never seen in articulated so well. It's a quick read and very worth reading. I verified with the publisher that I could quote from my copy so here are the bits that resonated with experiences friends of mine have had, so eloquently stated: "Whenever my bodily I decided to start November out seeing how many memoirs I could read. This memoir is an excellent capture of grappling with genderqueer identity. I've marked a bunch of places that resonate with experiences friends of mine have had, but I've never seen in articulated so well. It's a quick read and very worth reading. I verified with the publisher that I could quote from my copy so here are the bits that resonated with experiences friends of mine have had, so eloquently stated: "Whenever my bodily claustrophobia grows unbearable, I seek new lovers, new locations, new friends. So be it. Novelty is the longest-lasting short-term coping system I know of." "I hated myself for still believing that one person, a lover, could rid me of whatever kept me hating myself in the first place." "...More and more people in my life began to accuse me of dishonesty... A friend who had caught on to my habit gave me her marked-up copy of a 1975 Adrienne Rich essay called 'Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying.' Rich writes that the liars, afraid of themselves, cannot bear their own contradictions, cannot face what might be lost if they are honest. I said whatever I thought people wanted to hear...." "How to know if the problem was gender or personhood. How to know if the problem was gender or me." This book came out November 15, 2019 - I was sent a copy from the publisher.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Billie

    I am grateful that more queer, trans, and gender non-conforming voices are being heard but, as for this book in particular, I have to wonder if it would have been published by a Big 5 publisher had Cyrus Grace not been the sibling of a certain other Dunham. The writing is very...something. Trying too hard, maybe? Wanting to be literary? I don't know, exactly what was lacking, but something was. Even with Cyrus Grace narrating their own story, I never felt any connection or intimacy, which usuall I am grateful that more queer, trans, and gender non-conforming voices are being heard but, as for this book in particular, I have to wonder if it would have been published by a Big 5 publisher had Cyrus Grace not been the sibling of a certain other Dunham. The writing is very...something. Trying too hard, maybe? Wanting to be literary? I don't know, exactly what was lacking, but something was. Even with Cyrus Grace narrating their own story, I never felt any connection or intimacy, which usually happens with author-narrated memoir. It was fine and if it helps more marginalized voices get heard, all to the good, but being fame-adjacent isn't enough to make a person's story compelling and I think there are more interesting trans and genderqueer voices out there waiting to be heard.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    A very mixed and mixed-up read. I hope Cyrus Grace writes a memoir twenty years from now, and that the future book will be less therapy and more literature. This was heartbreaking, like reading someone's private journal. And the academic vocabulary that sprawled across the pages like kudzu was irritating. You do not need big words to say something meaningful. I did like the title and the cover, which features a photograph by Cyrus Grace's mother, Laurie Simmons. My wish for Cyrus going forward? A very mixed and mixed-up read. I hope Cyrus Grace writes a memoir twenty years from now, and that the future book will be less therapy and more literature. This was heartbreaking, like reading someone's private journal. And the academic vocabulary that sprawled across the pages like kudzu was irritating. You do not need big words to say something meaningful. I did like the title and the cover, which features a photograph by Cyrus Grace's mother, Laurie Simmons. My wish for Cyrus going forward? The best possible outcome, whatever shape that takes.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Malinda Jane

    Wow. I don’t know where to start. This was like reading the diary of a very self involved, pretentious rich kid who is oblivious to how far removed their life is from most everyone else’s. Spend all day picking up garbage for no reason and sorting it, sure. Walk up and down stairs endlessly, ok. Impulse purchase a car because you’re depressed, have your parents pay for your top surgery, take testosterone from a considerably less well-off construction worker because you can’t wait a few months to Wow. I don’t know where to start. This was like reading the diary of a very self involved, pretentious rich kid who is oblivious to how far removed their life is from most everyone else’s. Spend all day picking up garbage for no reason and sorting it, sure. Walk up and down stairs endlessly, ok. Impulse purchase a car because you’re depressed, have your parents pay for your top surgery, take testosterone from a considerably less well-off construction worker because you can’t wait a few months to go to a doctor, recover from top surgery with your entire family in a home rented especially for your recovery, travel constantly - all very relatable. Endless self-obsession. Complete inability to consider anyone outside of how they relate to the author. It’s honestly mind boggling how someone could write this and not see how they are depicting themselves as having an incredibly narcissistic view of the world. Reading about how aimlessly the author spent their days, wallowing in misery and self pity was honestly nauseating. This entire memoir was a groveling and borderline embarrassing plea for validation. I could go on, but i’ll refrain. This author is clearly intelligent, capable, and their use of language was top notch, but DAMN if they don’t come off as insufferable. Good lord.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    A lot of the narration felt forced and pretentious. It wasn't very insightful into a transgender experience. I wouldn't recommend it. A lot of the narration felt forced and pretentious. It wasn't very insightful into a transgender experience. I wouldn't recommend it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Raven Black

    Lots going on here. Almost as if looking at their diary, inside their mind and by their side all at once. You'll like, dislike, understand and will be unsure all at the same time Lots going on here. Almost as if looking at their diary, inside their mind and by their side all at once. You'll like, dislike, understand and will be unsure all at the same time

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    dnf @ 27% lol this is unfair but i found out cyrus grace dunham is the sibling of lena dunham and i just kind of lost interest in reading this. also most of the chunk i read was pretty focused on sex and relationships and it just wasn't what i expected or wanted. dnf @ 27% lol this is unfair but i found out cyrus grace dunham is the sibling of lena dunham and i just kind of lost interest in reading this. also most of the chunk i read was pretty focused on sex and relationships and it just wasn't what i expected or wanted.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kit

    It's really hard for me to judge this book-- the subject matter hits far too close to home. When Dunham writes about parts about their "gender journey," so to speak, that I can only relate to intellectually, I question why they included that portion, feel some kind of disgust. (But also, they really, really could have written about how objects can serve as a substitute for a body and a means to gender oneself besides writing an out-of-touch ode to the sports car). When they write about things wi It's really hard for me to judge this book-- the subject matter hits far too close to home. When Dunham writes about parts about their "gender journey," so to speak, that I can only relate to intellectually, I question why they included that portion, feel some kind of disgust. (But also, they really, really could have written about how objects can serve as a substitute for a body and a means to gender oneself besides writing an out-of-touch ode to the sports car). When they write about things with which I can relate, I dive back into my own disassociation I have with my body, the anxious thoughts about whether I am "really" trans or am doing too much or not enough to transition. So, I felt equal parts bewildered and hurt while reading this. I am not sure what a cis person would feel, or a trans person who frames their transition differently than I do (of which there are many). I suspect many would roll their eyes at Dunham's absurd privilege, about how little they need to engage with a society that is hostile to trans people (even though it is much less hostile to white transmasc folks than transfemme people or bipoc people). I would imagine they would also roll their eyes at Dunham's insularity, how they looked so deep into their navel and maybe never crawled out. Still, in spite of the book's obvious flaws, Dunham hits on some powerful truths-- especially in the sections when they speak about choosing the name Cyrus and telling people their new name. For me, this part hurt the most. So, three stars-- for pretension speckled with some true wisdom.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia Ward

    3.5 / 5 stars. This is a hauntingly raw journey as Grace contemplates becoming Cyrus; as she becomes they, sometimes he, and back to she at times. It feels as if Grace was secretly in search of a metanoia to relieve the guilt and paranoia about feeling she is doing a disservice to the female gender, and feeling he is not worthy of being a man. The first few chapters are disjointed, as if there is no real introduction to ease the reader into the confusion and chaos of the journey. But I loved cha 3.5 / 5 stars. This is a hauntingly raw journey as Grace contemplates becoming Cyrus; as she becomes they, sometimes he, and back to she at times. It feels as if Grace was secretly in search of a metanoia to relieve the guilt and paranoia about feeling she is doing a disservice to the female gender, and feeling he is not worthy of being a man. The first few chapters are disjointed, as if there is no real introduction to ease the reader into the confusion and chaos of the journey. But I loved chapters 3 and 6 when I finally connected to Cyrus Grace, and I even got emotional when, in chapter 8, their mother replies to the trans-announcement letter with a text: “Good morning, sunshine… Or should I say good morning, son-shine.” And, I especially love that Cy never fully loses Grace. As an example of courage, transparency, and authenticity, I strongly recommend this relevant and transformational story. More stories from the LGBTQ community need to populate all our shelves to help inspire and advance acceptance and normalcy Thank you Little, Brown and Company for the opportunity to read and review this advanced copy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Snarky Reader

    I picked up this book after reading the excerpts/essay in the New Yorker. I would recommend reading the New Yorker article and stopping there. The most polished, vibrant, and readable parts of the book (starting around chapter 7+ 8 to the end) were all in the New Yorker essay. The rest of the book, all the chapters leading up, was not ready yet to go into the world as a book. It seems it was pressured to get published prematurely. It is raw, honest, uncomfortable writing. It is very, very seriou I picked up this book after reading the excerpts/essay in the New Yorker. I would recommend reading the New Yorker article and stopping there. The most polished, vibrant, and readable parts of the book (starting around chapter 7+ 8 to the end) were all in the New Yorker essay. The rest of the book, all the chapters leading up, was not ready yet to go into the world as a book. It seems it was pressured to get published prematurely. It is raw, honest, uncomfortable writing. It is very, very serious. And very sad. A lot of nausea. And a lot of deconstruction. It isn't exactly chronological, and not exactly essays. The author brings their famous sister, Lena Dunham, into the book from a distance, but could have combined those sections and written a cohesive essay about fame, their family's relationship to fame, and irony that the book was likely published as a result of their family's fame. But that was conspicuously left out. I'll admit I read it in one sitting, partly because the book was compelling and partly because I wanted to get it over with quickly.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kit

    This was fine. As a trans memoir, it offers nothing new - there's even the ubiquitous caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly metaphor. But that's fine. More narratives lead to normalisation of trans stories. It's just that nothing here clutched my heart and made me think, "YES, this is something I hadn't considered about myself before!" Which, again, fine. But I need cis people to stop calling this new and unique. It just shows the lack of trans stories you've listened to. Also, it's not an This was fine. As a trans memoir, it offers nothing new - there's even the ubiquitous caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly metaphor. But that's fine. More narratives lead to normalisation of trans stories. It's just that nothing here clutched my heart and made me think, "YES, this is something I hadn't considered about myself before!" Which, again, fine. But I need cis people to stop calling this new and unique. It just shows the lack of trans stories you've listened to. Also, it's not an exploration of gender as a concept. It's very personal (except for a tiny bit at the end). Which isn't a critique of the book - it's not trans writers' job to explode the myth of gender at every opportunity. But it is a critique of the blurbs that call it that though. You're setting people up to be disappointed with the book. This makes me more excited for Daniel Ortberg's memoir. Also, I didn't enjoy the prologue seeming to dwell on how being nonbinary is a stop on the way to being a binary trans man. Even if that is his experience.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

    It was interesting to read something to introspective while self-quarantining. I'm between 3 and 4 stars. Their self-awareness is fascinating and reading from their perspective makes me want to be more honest with myself. At times I found them a little pretentious but overall this was really great. They did such a wonderful job conveying their experience of their gender throughout their life generally and as they transitioned in particular and I really enjoyed reading about how they parse out th It was interesting to read something to introspective while self-quarantining. I'm between 3 and 4 stars. Their self-awareness is fascinating and reading from their perspective makes me want to be more honest with myself. At times I found them a little pretentious but overall this was really great. They did such a wonderful job conveying their experience of their gender throughout their life generally and as they transitioned in particular and I really enjoyed reading about how they parse out their complex feelings on masculinity and manhood.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maia

    Dunham's short but powerful debut memoir covers the year in which they finally decided to start taking testosterone and do top surgery, after a lifetime of struggling with intense dysphoria and mental illness. Prior to the beginning of the narrative shown here, Durham had already been diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and generalized anxiety. They lay bare their failed attempts at self-definition through desire and worship of others, a string Dunham's short but powerful debut memoir covers the year in which they finally decided to start taking testosterone and do top surgery, after a lifetime of struggling with intense dysphoria and mental illness. Prior to the beginning of the narrative shown here, Durham had already been diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and generalized anxiety. They lay bare their failed attempts at self-definition through desire and worship of others, a string of passionate romances that bleed into each other, often twisted with jealousy and fear. Durham's life seems unmoored by responsibilities, as neither jobs or school commitments are mentioned between a trip to India, time spent in their parents house on the East Coast, their shared queer apartment in Los Angeles, and road trips up to the Bay Area. I always enjoy recognizing places I know in memoir, and I was delighted to read a scene that took place on a Northern California beach I also visited and loved as a child. It was hard not to compare Durham's gender evolution to my own, and be grateful for the comparative quietness and gentleness of my own journey.

  16. 5 out of 5

    queerpoetssociety_

    3.75* I wrote them a short, succinct letter: "I am trans," I wrote. "Not intellectually, or partially, or aesthetically. Fully, deeply, transgender." Cyrus Grace Dunham is an American writer and activist based in Los Angeles and they take us inside the chrysalis of their transition in this deeply cathartic memoir. Right from their childhood when they slicked back their short hair in the bathroom with water to their decision to get a mastectomy, the reader is almost like a cell in their brain, as D 3.75* I wrote them a short, succinct letter: "I am trans," I wrote. "Not intellectually, or partially, or aesthetically. Fully, deeply, transgender." Cyrus Grace Dunham is an American writer and activist based in Los Angeles and they take us inside the chrysalis of their transition in this deeply cathartic memoir. Right from their childhood when they slicked back their short hair in the bathroom with water to their decision to get a mastectomy, the reader is almost like a cell in their brain, as Dunham dissects every beyond-the-binary thought they've had. The irony about queerness is that everything seems so complicated with so many identities and flags but it's not as convoluted as we think it is. Dunham was in a constant battle with their name to a point where they felt like they didn't have one. They had multiple sexual encounters, multiple epiphanies about their gender identity throughout their life. When they start contemplating a name change, they ask themselves numerous questions that stretches to a two-page stream of consciousness which only emphasises the realness of the dysphoria, the anxiety they went through. We also learn a lot about the effects of hormone therapy, gender dysphoria and top surgery on the lives of trans and enby folks, on the lives of those who undergo these procedures and Dunham doesn't shy away from bringing these discussions to mainstream literature. However, the role of their friends, lovers and well-wishers was of paramount importance. This is where the realness of the story lies. Connections. Friendships. Love. They can make or break us. Dunham stresses a lot on not only how with time and introspection, they arrived at a decision that made them feel comfortable in their skin, but also how he always had immense support from friends, and strangers too. What stuck with me most was this: Zoya referred to my gender indeterminately without it having been discussed. "They're asleep." Two words, and she summoned me into existence, became the keeper of my unrealized self.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review; opinions are my own. This book is such an honest account of one person’s always-unfinished journey through and around gender and identity and mental illness. It’s such a short quick read, but punchy- nearly every sentence is sharp, full of importance, deeply intellectual and creative at once. I *love* the way that Dunham openly navigates how confusing gender is, how arbitrary and yet essential. They’re extremely self-aware, w I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review; opinions are my own. This book is such an honest account of one person’s always-unfinished journey through and around gender and identity and mental illness. It’s such a short quick read, but punchy- nearly every sentence is sharp, full of importance, deeply intellectual and creative at once. I *love* the way that Dunham openly navigates how confusing gender is, how arbitrary and yet essential. They’re extremely self-aware, which is almost more of a burden than a gift. There’s so much packed into this story that mainly takes place over one or two very recent years. It’s unlike pretty much anything I’ve read. Highly recommend!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lilli

    I struggled with getting into this book and I think Cyrus Grace Dunham did as well, but it found its footing in the last 30% or so and eventually did provide some really amazing insight into gender dysphoria and FtM transitioning. The beginning of this book just felt so meandering and convoluted and the metaphors throughout felt forced and overdone—honestly, as a reader, if I have to suffer through one more goddamn butterfly metaphor I'm giving up on the hobby altogether. Perhaps the book did th I struggled with getting into this book and I think Cyrus Grace Dunham did as well, but it found its footing in the last 30% or so and eventually did provide some really amazing insight into gender dysphoria and FtM transitioning. The beginning of this book just felt so meandering and convoluted and the metaphors throughout felt forced and overdone—honestly, as a reader, if I have to suffer through one more goddamn butterfly metaphor I'm giving up on the hobby altogether. Perhaps the book did this intentionally, because just like its author, it eventually did find itself and come together, but it suffered greatly in getting there. I think it would have been better off as an essay collection with a bit more structure and organization than it had because so often I was confused and I felt like I was blacking out between different stories even though I was fully conscious throughout reading the book. I frequently struggled to understand how one point connected to the next and often felt directionless. The end of this book and Dunham's description of coming out to his family and getting top surgery were very gratifying and I'm glad I didn't DNF the book early on when I really wanted to because I did enjoy the end enough—not enough to recommend the book, but enough to recommend Dunham's Instagram account (WHEW he's a looker) and to mention that many of the highlights of this book were more succinctly collected and published in the New Yorker, so skip the book and check out the article instead.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This is one of the most intimate, vulnerable and unbelievable honest memoirs I have ever read! This reads almost like diary form as Cyrus Grace Dunham writes so clearly and openly about their gender journey, family, desire, queerness and more. I finished this book in a day, I literally could not put it down! So many people will find this book a great comfort. And anyone who enjoys memoirs or has ever wondered about gender identity and queerness needs to read this book! • Thank You to the publisher This is one of the most intimate, vulnerable and unbelievable honest memoirs I have ever read! This reads almost like diary form as Cyrus Grace Dunham writes so clearly and openly about their gender journey, family, desire, queerness and more. I finished this book in a day, I literally could not put it down! So many people will find this book a great comfort. And anyone who enjoys memoirs or has ever wondered about gender identity and queerness needs to read this book! • Thank You to the publisher for sending me this #ARC opinions are my own. • For more of my book content check out instagram.com/bookalong

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pierre H

    I loved the honesty of this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    I wanted so much more from this. There were moments that could have been further exhumed for depth of the topic and understanding of our narrator. I enjoyed the memoir in progress style this novel conveyed: that your story is worth telling no matter what stage of life you're in. I just closed the pages feeling like I didn't know our narrator as well as I wanted to get to know them. I wanted so much more from this. There were moments that could have been further exhumed for depth of the topic and understanding of our narrator. I enjoyed the memoir in progress style this novel conveyed: that your story is worth telling no matter what stage of life you're in. I just closed the pages feeling like I didn't know our narrator as well as I wanted to get to know them.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Lapp

    An enlightening read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Davina

    I think Mary Karr said it best: "I've never seen a gender journey rendered in more tender, riveting detail." I think Mary Karr said it best: "I've never seen a gender journey rendered in more tender, riveting detail."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Syar S Alia

    Notes: The way this book put me inside the author's experience and questioning of gender (I don't even know how to describe it, it involves dysphoria but is by no means exclusively dysphoria) is the most striking thing I will take away from it. There is a flatness/distance I found in some of the writing, where scenes and settings were covered in a fog/miasma of uncertainty, anxiety, frustration, yearning - hard to tell apart or get a grip on. The discomfort of those feelings translated into a di Notes: The way this book put me inside the author's experience and questioning of gender (I don't even know how to describe it, it involves dysphoria but is by no means exclusively dysphoria) is the most striking thing I will take away from it. There is a flatness/distance I found in some of the writing, where scenes and settings were covered in a fog/miasma of uncertainty, anxiety, frustration, yearning - hard to tell apart or get a grip on. The discomfort of those feelings translated into a discomfort for me as a reader, which led to deeper thinking and probing. The sweetest moments in the book to me were the ones where Cyrus talked about the relationships they had with the people that loved them, and the note to their sister in the afterword made me cry.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mare

    I'm glad I read this and I could relate to a good portion of it...but the essay version published by the New Yorker in August is FAR superior. If you've read that already, this just seems like an attempt to stretch a superb essay into a short book and feels like it needs more editing. That said, I am grateful for Dunham's writing and brutal honesty and look forward to their future work. I'm glad I read this and I could relate to a good portion of it...but the essay version published by the New Yorker in August is FAR superior. If you've read that already, this just seems like an attempt to stretch a superb essay into a short book and feels like it needs more editing. That said, I am grateful for Dunham's writing and brutal honesty and look forward to their future work.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    From the very first page of their 2019 memoir, Cyrus Grace Dunham asserts that their story won’t be neat and tidy, that they will prioritize truth over a clean narrative with a concrete end. With that they set the tone for the entirety of this short complicated memoir, detailing mainly a single year in their life in which they wrestle with questions of name, identity, and transition. ⁣ ⁣ Reading this memoir is intentionally uncomfortable, as you sit alongside Dunham in their discomfort, their frau From the very first page of their 2019 memoir, Cyrus Grace Dunham asserts that their story won’t be neat and tidy, that they will prioritize truth over a clean narrative with a concrete end. With that they set the tone for the entirety of this short complicated memoir, detailing mainly a single year in their life in which they wrestle with questions of name, identity, and transition. ⁣ ⁣ Reading this memoir is intentionally uncomfortable, as you sit alongside Dunham in their discomfort, their fraught relationship with girlhood, a life spent feeling their body was not their own and without a steadying sense of grounding in a defined correct path forward to alleviate that feeling. They delve deeply into their romantic relationships, deftly exploring a pattern of extreme devotion to another and how it serves as a coping mechanism, and skim the surface of depression and their experiences with dissociation induced panic attacks. Their self awareness is notable, even as this book consists so much of questions without answers, and existing in a middle space of not knowing. ⁣ ⁣ With this book, Dunham is doing exactly their own thing. I respect that, and quite enjoyed reading. After getting past a little difficulty with the flourishes of their writing style, I finished this memoir in two fully immersed sittings. Would recommend, particularly to fans of queer writing or untidy memoirs. ⁣

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carla (happiestwhenreading)

    #partner @littlebrown I added this one to my June TBR at the last minute because a.) it fit in with the #pridereading theme, and b.) it was short and I thought I could fit it in with just a couple days left. However, I was fully unprepared for the punch this small book packed. While it is short (just 176 pages) it demanded a slower, more thoughtful read. I underlined almost the entire book and after reading a couple of pages, I’d have to stop and just resonate with the thoughts I’d just read. I bel #partner @littlebrown I added this one to my June TBR at the last minute because a.) it fit in with the #pridereading theme, and b.) it was short and I thought I could fit it in with just a couple days left. However, I was fully unprepared for the punch this small book packed. While it is short (just 176 pages) it demanded a slower, more thoughtful read. I underlined almost the entire book and after reading a couple of pages, I’d have to stop and just resonate with the thoughts I’d just read. I believe the synopsis on Goodreads sums this book up better than I can, so I copied it here: “Beginning as Grace and ending as Cyrus, Dunham brings us inside the chrysalis of gender transition, asking us to bear witness to an uncertain and exhilarating process that troubles our most basic assumptions about who we are and how we are constituted. Written with disarming emotional intensity in a voice uniquely theirs, A Year Without a Name is a potent, thrillingly unresolved meditation on queerness, family, and desire.” This book is incredibly honest and raw and emotionally intense. It adds so much to the gender transition conversation and I highly recommend you reading it. Unfortunately, it’s not out until October, but it’s worth the wait!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tangled in Text

    This was a blind date with a book for me. I had no idea what it was about or that it was a nonfiction. It looked like a suspenseful dystopian drama with the two kids walking hand in hand immediately giving me The Shining vibes with the Twilight realm coloring and feel to this cover and really A Year Without a Name was all that captured in a memoir. I am grateful for the insight and the empathy this book created. I've seen the request for pronoun preferences increasing and knowing the importance This was a blind date with a book for me. I had no idea what it was about or that it was a nonfiction. It looked like a suspenseful dystopian drama with the two kids walking hand in hand immediately giving me The Shining vibes with the Twilight realm coloring and feel to this cover and really A Year Without a Name was all that captured in a memoir. I am grateful for the insight and the empathy this book created. I've seen the request for pronoun preferences increasing and knowing the importance of it from a removed stance is very different from seeing its direct effect on those struggling with their identity. Cyrus filled the pages with his self-hatred, confusion, and grievances and truly let us inside his head. He showed us how confusing it really is to be in this limbo in between identities and how exhausting that pull is to have to decide one way or another. I loved the blunt emotional turmoil he unleashed with the feel of this being more of a diary, unfiltered vent to his struggles. I also loved that we got to see the internal struggle alongside his external struggles and some of the processes and workarounds he had to get through to own his new name.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Read this pretty fast waiting for something to grab me, no luck there. The ending is very abrupt and honestly it seemed like they might have rushed this book out? The writing style was easy to read but lacked...something. As another has said maybe I'd give them a try if they write another book 10 years from now. I also found it difficult to get past their privilege and narcissism. Even as a non-binary person I found the story wholly unrelatable. Was excited to read another's trans experience, we Read this pretty fast waiting for something to grab me, no luck there. The ending is very abrupt and honestly it seemed like they might have rushed this book out? The writing style was easy to read but lacked...something. As another has said maybe I'd give them a try if they write another book 10 years from now. I also found it difficult to get past their privilege and narcissism. Even as a non-binary person I found the story wholly unrelatable. Was excited to read another's trans experience, we need that more in literature, but left feeling more disconnected than I'd hoped.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ocean

    i get people's critiques of this, but i liked it. they're a really talented writer and they do a good job of letting us inhabit their extremely unique, anxious worldview. (maybe a little too good--i was seriously disturbed by their distress in parts, like their depersonalization/derealization at the movie theater). it was interesting but not too long. it completely sucked me in and whirled me around. i get people's critiques of this, but i liked it. they're a really talented writer and they do a good job of letting us inhabit their extremely unique, anxious worldview. (maybe a little too good--i was seriously disturbed by their distress in parts, like their depersonalization/derealization at the movie theater). it was interesting but not too long. it completely sucked me in and whirled me around.

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