Trans-Sister Radio

Trans-Sister Radio

4.1 56
by Chris Bohjalian, Judith Ivey
     
 

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Four people in a small Vermont village are about to have their lives inexorably intertwined by the uncertainties of love . . . and the apparent absolutes of gender.        

Schoolteacher Allison Banks, the long-divorced mother of a teenager on the cusp of college, has at last fallen in love. The object of her desire?…  See more details below

Overview

Four people in a small Vermont village are about to have their lives inexorably intertwined by the uncertainties of love . . . and the apparent absolutes of gender.        

Schoolteacher Allison Banks, the long-divorced mother of a teenager on the cusp of college, has at last fallen in love. The object of her desire? Dana Stevens, a professor at the nearby university and her instructor for a summer film and literature course. Her daughter, Carly, watches with pleasure her mother's newfound happiness, but her ex-husband, Will, the president of Vermont Public Radio, is jealous. Still secretly in love with his ex-wife, he finds himself increasingly unsettled by the prospect of Allison's attachment to another man.

Yet Dana is unlike anyone Allison has ever been with: attentive, gentle, kind — and an exceptionally ardent lover. Moreover, it's clear that Dana cares just as deeply for Allison. The only stumbling block? Dana has known always that in actuality he is a woman — genitalia, plumbing, and perceptions be damned — and he will soon be having a sex change operation.

At first Allison runs, but overwhelmed by the depth of her passions, she returns. But can the pair's love transcend both the biologic imperatives that are their bodies, as well as their ingrained notions of sexual preference? Moreover, can their love survive the outrage of the small community in which they live?

All four characters — Allison, Dana, Carly, and Will — narrate this compelling story, spinning a tale that will keep you turning the pages with the eagerness we usually reserve for thrillers, while nodding in wonderat such a deeply moving and profoundly honest portrayal of longing, love, and desire.

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Editorial Reviews

bn.com editor
Bestselling author Chris Bohjalian, whose previous audio MIDWIVES was one of Oprah's picks, spins a uniquely contemporary love story in his latest audio, TRANS-SISTER RADIO. Divorced sixth-grade teacher Alison Banks has a smart young daughter, Carly, and a wonderful relationship with Dana, a sensitive, caring man. But Alison's world is thrown abruptly into turmoil when Dana reveals to her that he is going to have a sex-change operation. Alison's initial shock gives way to tolerance as she realizes she is still deeply in love with Dana, in spite of the devastating news. Told in alternating chapters by Carly, Dana, Alison, and Will, Alison's ex-husband, TRANS-SISTER RADIO depicts the situation from every angle, allowing the listener to experience everything firsthand.

Bohjalian explores all the complicated issues surrounding his topic but never descends into anything too preachy. The treatment of gender issues is light and intelligent, and never prevents the audio from being an incredibly entertaining, unusual story. Award-winning actress Judith Ivey, who narrates TRANS-SISTER RADIO, creates three-dimensional characters with her nimble voice, from Dana's appropriately androgynous southern drawl to Carly's intelligent, open tones. Poignant, funny, and sometimes bittersweet, this audiobook is well worth the listen.

San Francisco Chronicle
In the convolutions of human frailties and the confounding enigma of love, [Bohjalian's] tale brings to bear issues that transcend the bounds of gender: image, loneliness, yearning, and, most of all, the human capacity for change. . .It bears his hallmark: ordinary people in heartbreaking circumstances behaving with grace and dignity. He accomplishes this in plaintive prose that speaks directly to the heart.
Carol Memmott
Trans-Sister Radio is a controversial, highly original novel about a lot more than gender issues and sexual orientation. It is about the precarious dance on the checkerboard of sex. It is about life choices, lifestyle, tolerance and intolerance, and, above all, a commitment to love. Some might consider the resolution an equivocation, but this book is impossible to put down.
USA Today
Nancy E. Young
Set your dial to Trans-Sister Radio for a thoughtful and provocative read, and when you want more after you finish, tune into Bohjalian's earlier books, which are as wel written.
BUST Magazine
Library Journal
A compelling and often disturbing novel, Trans-sister Radio challenges all of our assumptions about gender, relationships, and sexuality. A powerful secret literally transforms four lives: Allison Banks, a sixth grade teacher; Will, her ex-husband and president of a local Vermont Public Radio station; their teenage daughter Carly; and Dana Stevens, a college instructor who falls in love with Allison. The structure of the book is essential for understanding the (r)evolution of emotions that occur with the complex issues Bohjalian explores through private lives made very public. The four voices, performed by Kymberli Colbourne, alternate to reveal their own separate struggles and to create a metamorphosis that is central to the story. A demanding work that is often graphic, always gentle, and full of wisdom and surprising humor. Recommended for adult audiences. Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Inspired…. [a] highly original novel…. Impossible to put down.”–USA Today

Trans-Sister Radio…bears Bohjalian’s hallmark: ordinary people in heartbreaking circumstances behaving with grace and dignity…. Speaks directly to the heart.”–San Francisco Chronicle

“Bohjalian has…written an interesting [and] ultimately, a quite daring novel, and a worthy successor to Midwives. Like that novel, Trans-Sister Radio challenges readers’ most dearly held notions of biological reality.”–Philadelphia Inquirer

“An insightful look at love and sexuality…with great compassion and insight.”–Los Angeles Times

“A though-provoking tale with a rich, varied texture…. [An] addictive read.”–The Denver Post

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375416064
Publisher:
Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/28/2000
Edition description:
Abridged, 5 CDs, 5 hrs. 15 min.
Product dimensions:
5.68(w) x 4.90(h) x 0.98(d)

Read an Excerpt

Carly
I was eight when my parents separated, and nine when they actually divorced. That means that for a little more than a decade, I've watched my mom get ready for dates. Sometimes, until I started ninth grade, I'd even keep her company on Saturday afternoons, while she'd take these long, luxurious bubble baths. I'd put the lid down on the toilet and sit there, and we'd talk about school or boys or the guy she was dating.

I stopped joining her in the bathroom in ninth grade for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it had started to seem a little weird to me to be hanging out with her when I was fourteen and she was naked.

But she has always been pretty cool about bodies and sex, and for all I know, she wouldn't mind my joining her in the bathroom even now when I'm home from college. For better or worse—and usually for better—my mom has always been very comfortable with subjects that give most parents the shivers. A couple of days before my fifteenth birthday, she took me to the gynecologist to get me fitted for a diaphragm, and told me where in her bedroom she kept the spermicidally lubricated condoms. (Of course, I already knew: God, by then I even knew where she'd hidden a vibrator.)

I hadn't had sex yet, and my mom made it clear that she didn't want me to in the foreseeable future. But she had a pretty good memory of the hormonal chaos that hits a person in high school, and she wanted to do all that she could for my sake to ensure that she wouldn't become a grandmother any sooner than necessary.

When I think back on it, my parents' divorce was very civilized. At least it has always seemed that way to me, though it's clear there arethings I don't know.

The way my mom tells it, I was in second or third grade when they realized they just didn't love each other anymore the way they had when they were first married. They'd worked together at the radio station then, and they'd shared everything. My mom insists they both came to the realization at about the same time that they should separate: My mom was thirty-two and my dad was thirty-three, and they figured they were still young enough to hook up with someone who, in the long years ahead, could keep their motors humming the way they were meant to.

Sometimes my dad hints that it wasn't quite so mutual. Most of the time he toes their party line, but every so often I'll get the impression that when he moved out, he was figuring they'd both change their minds and reconcile in a couple of weeks. I think he might have thought he was just being cool.

Once when he was visiting my mom, I overheard him telling her that he knew her heart had never been into the counseling they went through when I was eight.

Still, he was the one who got remarried.

Sometimes, when I was little, I'd help my mom pick out her jewelry or clothing for a date.

"Wear the pearls," I might suggest.

"It's a clambake," she'd remind me.

"Too formal?"

"And they might scare the oysters."

One time she especially indulged me. I was eleven years old and convinced there was no fashion statement more powerful than a kilt. And so she wore a red-and-green Christmas kilt to a backyard cookout, even though it was the middle of August and the air was just plain sticky. That night my baby-sitter spent most of the time standing in front of a fan, with her T-shirt rolled up like a halter.

If I were to count, I'd guess my mom probably had five serious boyfriends in the decade between my parents' divorce and the day she met Dana. Dana had been in pre-surgical therapy for two years by then and had probably endured close to fifty hours of electrolysis. He'd been on hormone therapy for a good four or five months.

Unlike a lot of pre-op M2Fs, he wasn't trying to pass as a woman yet, he hadn't begun his transition.

Of course, he didn't tell my mom any of this—not that he should have. When they met, he was simply the professor for a film course at the university that she was taking that summer as a lark, and she was one of his students.

What was he supposed to do, say to the class, "Hi, I'm Dana, and I've spent a good part of the last year with my upper lip deadened by Novacaine"?

Or, "Good evening, I'm your professor. I'm about to start developing breasts!"

Or, if he wanted, for some reason, to be completely candid, "You folks ever met a lesbian with a penis? Have now!"

He had no idea he was going to fall in love with my mom, even when they started to date, and she had no idea she was going to fall in love with him. It just happened.


From the Audio CD edition.

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Meet the Author

Chris Bohjalian is the author of eight novels, including Midwives, (a # 1 New York Times bestseller and an Oprah's Book Club® selection), Trans-Sister Radio, and The Buffalo Soldier--as well as Idyll Banter, a collection of magazine essays and newspaper columns.

His work has been translated into seventeen languages, been published in twenty countries, and twice become acclaimed movies, ("Midwives" and "Past the Bleachers"). In 2002 and he won the New England Book Award.

Chris Bohjalian is the author of eight novels, including Midwives, (a # 1 New York Times bestseller and an Oprah's Book Club® selection), Trans-Sister Radio, and The Buffalo Soldier--as well as Idyll Banter, a collection of magazine essays and newspaper columns.

His work has been translated into seventeen languages, been published in twenty countries, and twice become acclaimed movies, ("Midwives" and "Past the Bleachers"). In 2002 and he won the New England Book Award.

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Brief Biography

Hometown:
Lincoln, Vermont
Date of Birth:
August 12, 1961
Place of Birth:
White Plains, New York
Education:
Amherst College
Website:
http://www.chrisbohjalian.com

Customer Reviews

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Trans-Sister Radio 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Marie-Blondie18 More than 1 year ago
I borrowed this book from a friend and she didn't really say anything about it.. it was little challenging for my age group, but very interesting and amazing! I definetly learned a lot from this book! I think that now I have a little more sympathy towards trans-sexuals. It was a great book that hit a different group of people that many other people don't appreciate as much.
Mannadonn More than 1 year ago
I read this book for my local book group. The story is told from the perspective of four individuals; Dana, Allison, Carly, and Will. Interspersed throughout the story are transcripts from a radio talk show interview between Carly and other characters within the book. The book begins with Carly explaining the impact of her parent's (Allison and Will) divorce. Will remarried but was often accused of holding a torch for Allison. Allison was a grade school teacher and was taking courses at the local college; Dana was her professor. Dana, an attractive yet effeminate man, quickly caught Allison's attention and they quickly entered into a relationship. A few months into their relationship, Dana reveals to Allison that he was born into the wrong body and is contemplating gender reassignment surgery. Though overwhelmed by this shocking news, Allison's love for Dana has grown beyond her rational control and she vows to remain by his side throughout his journey to become who he truly wants to be. The rest of the book centers around the perceptions of others and the struggles and complications the couple must face due to societal beliefs and prejudices. This book was well-written, as is the power of this author to transform mere words into a work of art. However, the ending and "revelations" were predictable, which was highly disappointing to me knowing the abilities of the authors writing style. This book explores an extremely controversial topic in a manner that instills a sense of compassion in the reader for the characters within the book. This story also instigated much conversation between me and my friends. I could not stop thinking about these people and their story. This work of fiction reads as a memoir and poses certain important yet debatable questions. The biggest question of all throughout this account is: can love transcend gender? Before you form your final opinion and answer to this question.read this book. Make sure you have all sides of any story before settling on a position. Enjoy.this is a book that will make you think and question all your previously held beliefs and ideals.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a disappointment! The characters were very strong and went through so much. It was a disgrace that the ending was so weak.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of Bohjalian. He tackles difficult subjects and makes them more understandable. I understand much more about the difference between transgender and transexual and how one's life can be totally miserable if who you are on the inside doesn't match the external gender you are born with
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sleepyhummel More than 1 year ago
This was my first "Bohjalian" book and I really enjoyed it. First the subject matter pushes the limits and I love that and it also was written in a manner where every main character gets to tell their viewpoint. That was very refreshing to me and I felt like I got to know the "story" a whole lot better that way. Check it out!
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Could not put it down. Read it in two days!! Did not expect the ending. I highly recommend it!
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Flo33FB More than 1 year ago
I have Heard A lot Of Compliments in this book and belive all should read it for the best understanding Of what we all gor through.
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