Bookshelf: A family’s journey to find their transgender daughter

Becoming Nicole: The Extraordinary Transformation Of An Ordinary Family by Amy Ellis Nutt
Becoming Nicole: The Extraordinary Transformation Of An Ordinary Family by Amy Ellis Nutt
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Becoming Nicole: The Extraordinary Transformation Of An Ordinary Family by Amy Ellis Nutt. Atlantic, £12.99. Review by Georgina Rodgers

This is the inspiring, New York Times bestselling true story of a transgender girl and her family’s journey to understand, help and celebrate her uniqueness. Wayne and Ellis Maines are a very normal and hardworking American couple and are given the opportunity to adopt identical twin boys. When Jonas and Wyatt start to develop their own personalities, it becomes clear that the boys like different things; Wyatt imagines he is the Little Mermaid and dress up in his tutu. However, more than that, at the age of three, declares he “hates” his penis and asks: “When do I get to be a girl?” A compelling, enlightening and informative read.

The Crime Writer by Jill Dawson. Sceptre, £18.99 (ebook £12.99). Review by Gill Oliver

Melodrama and suspense are the twin pillars of this novel which echoes the turmoil of psychological thriller writer Patricia Highsmith’s life. Fans of the Texan’s stories, such as Strangers On A Train, The Talented Mr Ripley, The Two Faces Of January and The Price Of Salt - the basis of critically acclaimed film Carol - will delight in spotting the many nods to her work. Prowlers in the night, guilt and compulsive behaviour are all centre stage in this homage to Highsmith, as author Jill Dawson imagines the minute detail of a few key months in 1964. Twisty, tumultuous and irritating in parts, but never boring. Much like Highsmith herself.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. The Borough Press, priced £12.99 (ebook £5.99). Review by Kate Whiting

With one of the best opening lines for a book I’ve read in a long time, LA-based Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney plunges her readers into the chaotic lives of the Plumb family, which all revolve around the charismatic golden boy Leo. After one thoughtless act of lust (drink-driving away from a family wedding with a young waitress in tow) which ends in disaster, Leo lands in rehab and his mother bails him out by using the family trust fund. But there are other people living off the same fund... After the pacey beginning, D’Aprix Sweeney takes her foot off the gas, but she captures the ugly, personal side of capitalism and the dysfunctional family dynamics with aplomb.

Zero Hour: 100 Years On: Views From The Parapet Of The Somme by Jolyon Fenwick. Profile Books, priced £25. Review by Roddy Brooks

Books normally tell the story of a lifetime, or at least part of a life. Very few are dedicated to an hour and the cataclysmic events which followed over the course of a single day. But few days have had the breathtaking effect upon a nation as July 1, 1916. That hour was Zero Hour: 7:30am on a summer morning. On a day when a staggering 116,000 British and Empire troops were committed to the battle, by nightfall almost half had become casualties and close on 20,000 were dead. Historian Jolyon Fenwick’s third book, Zero Hour recounts the story through his powerful words and the clever use of panoramic photographs.