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In this extraordinarily funny and tender memoir, Noelle Howey weaves together three unique yet thoroughly intertwined journeys toward self-realization: those of herself, her transgender father, and her tomboy mother.
Howey was still too young to drive when her mother spilled the beans about her emotionally distant, hard-drinking father's cross-dressing habit: "I suppose I was scripted to weep, to riddle my mother with questions. Tough. I was not going to be upset about this. I had decided not to care about my father years ago. With that resolution in mind, I immediately burst into tears."
Thus begins the often painful process of redefining family relationships that would allow three emotionally battered individuals to begin to heal. Through each new revelation -- her father's admission that he secretly wore women's clothing; his public coming-out as a cross-dresser; his physical transformation from Richard to Christine; and Christine's final disclosure of a sexual preference for other women -- Howey maintains a near-miraculous equilibrium. And as she finds her own way in life, she transcends mere acceptance of her parents' choices and comes to actually find joy in them.
Dress Codes is a remarkably lucid celebration of love, acceptance, and forgiveness, those required cornerstones of true family values that are often impossible to achieve, even under less demanding circumstances. Wise beyond her years, Noelle Howey has written a disarming depiction of a family finding itself, against all odds, as its members struggle with their individual identities. (Summer 2002 Selection)