A transsexual woman must overcome unforeseen coincidences and prejudices in order to prove to herself and others that love can prevail over hate.
"Don't hate, Nicholas. Hate destroys everything. Don't let it destroy you..."
A cautionary tale about the consequences of blind prejudice, SHE’S MY DAD tells the story of a transsexual woman named Nickie Farrell, who, returning to her Northern Virginia alma mater to teach English to a new generation of scholars, is unaware that in the nearby town lives a son from an illicit love affair she had during her male undergraduate days.
As Nickie’s hopes to keep a low profile are dashed by an overly-ambitious lesbian journalism student, a dying reactionary billionaire hatches a scheme to obliterate the despised liberal school with a suicide dirty bomb attack. Local and college people alike become ensnared in a web of bigotry and mistrust, while one long-buried family secret may offer the only hope for everyone’s ultimate deliverance.
Filled with richly-drawn characters and building to a stunning climax, SHE’S MY DAD is a story about the destructiveness of hate, the power of love, and the redemptive triumph of good over evil.
Nickie was brought back to awareness by the rumble of a car engine. She looked up and saw a black Mustang pulling in behind her Accord. Quickly she got to her feet, wiping her tear-streaked face and pushing at her disheveled hair.
The driver’s door of the Mustang opened and man wearing a leather jacket and dark sunglasses got out. He stood looking at Nickie for a moment then called out with kindhearted concern: “Having car trouble, ma’am?”
“Oh, no. Not at all.” Nickie smoothed her blazer and walked toward the man. “I was just...looking at the stream. It’s so beautiful.”
The man wrinkled his nose at her Honda. “Y’know, these Jap vehicles are supposed to be so reliable, but they break down all the time.” He pointed at the Mustang. “Now there’s a solid piece of American engineering. You ought to get yourself one of those. Pretty lady like you would look sexy driving a pony car.” His lips pulled back in a smile. “Yep, mighty sexy.”
The disquieting realization suddenly hit Nickie that she was isolated on a deserted road with a strange man who had twice used the word “sexy”. Trying to hide her nervousness she replied in a careless tone, “Well, I’m not really the sports car type.” She took a few steps toward her car then stopped as a second, much bigger blonde man emerged from the Mustang.
“No?” The man in the leather jacket looked puzzled. “What type are you?”
“The boring type. A schoolteacher. And actually I have an afternoon class I’m late for, so...” To her dismay Nickie saw the big blonde man stroll to her car and casually lean against the driver-side door. She swallowed and finished her sentence, “...I really should be on my way. But thank you for your concern.”
“Oh, don’t mention it,” grinned the first man. “Professor Farrell.”
Nickie felt the short hairs on her neck rise and a surge of adrenalin flooded her system. “I’m afraid I don’t...Have we met, Mr...?”
“Just call me Friedrich,” chuckled the man, removing his sunglasses and folding them into his jacket. “You know, like Nietzsche.”
Badly frightened now, Nickie stared at the man’s navy blue eyes and recognized him as the one who’d come to her office for a sample syllabus. There was no doubt it was the same person. What had his name been? She was too scared to recall.
Nickie drew herself up. As firmly as possible she stated, “I really need to be going now.” She walked up to her car and addressed the big blonde man, who didn’t move. “Excuse me, please.”
“You ain’t goin’ nowhere.” The blonde man crossed his arms, leaned forward and laughed in her face. The sour smell of whiskey enveloped her as he added, “Bitch.”
“How thoughtless of me,” said the man who called himself Friedrich. Indicating the blonde ruffian: “Allow me to introduce my colleague, Dr. Cutter. He’s a very famous surgeon. Do you know what his specialty is?”
Nickie dumbly shook her head. She had never before experienced such a feeling of helpless dread.
“Sex-change operations.” Friedrich nodded solemnly. “It’s true. You know, he takes little boys and turns them into little girls. Did you ever hear of such a thing?”
Professional Reviews Love, Hate, and the Human Condition...
In today’s society, absolutely no one is immune to the forces of hate in the world. Terrorist attacks, hate groups, and xenophobic neighborhoods, towns, and even nations are all appalling reminders that citizens of the world live daily with fear. But, how often is the hate within ever addressed? Due to blind prejudice, it doesn’t take much for an average working American, or even a well respected financial baron, to build a bomb and “set it off like some primitive Arabian towel-head,” as evidenced in this book and the news every night.
SHE'S MY DAD brings this terrifying hate to the forefront in a spellbinding and dynamic way. The story begins in a small town in Virginia. A wealthy man disowns one of his sons because of his homosexuality, only to have that very son be his only surviving heir. In an effort to shine a light on the inherent hate within our society, that son turns his vast fortune, and even his home, into a university whose ideals are integration and acceptance. Despite his noble efforts, the small town that is the home to this university isn’t enlightened enough to deal with its existence, and the locals harbor a hatred for the institution and everything it stands for.
Flash forward. An intelligent and engaging woman returns to the university 25 years after graduation to take up the mantle of a professor. A journalism major discovers the secrets of this woman’s past; she is a transgendered woman and, through a youthful indiscretion with a married local woman, is the father of a local boy. This boy has been raised in a home of hatred and intolerance. The new professor’s appointment to the university’s staff forces the staff, the students, the town, and her own son to finally address the prejudice inherent within themselves.
SHE'S MY DAD is an action packed story with a great deal of insight into the human heart. Woulff creates a cast of characters that are fascinating and cause the reader to care about what happens to them. SHE'S MY DAD is more than just a novel, it is an experience.
Erin Nass, luxuryreading.com
Really nicely written...
This was such an intense read.
I cried, screamed, laughed, smiled and worried throughout this book. Being a lover of exploring the human mind, this book was perfect. Woulff has a way of putting thoughts on paper that make you live them while reading.
This book is not for the weak of mind or heart. It has a lot of controversial characters and topics which will shock and embarrass. And it's about time someone wrote about it. There is no sugar coating on character ethics in this book, as the point is to show real reactions to circumstances that happen every day.
I recommend this book to everyone. You don't need to be part of the GLBT community to enjoy or even understand it. There were no inner jokes, everything was laid out on the table. Every emotion, every heartache, every empowerment. Everyone will take something away from it. This is one of those rare books where once you are done reading it, you will become a better person by better understanding others.
Josie Kramer, thenybookjournal.com
A Literary Gem...
Picture, if you can, the following plot for a novel: The herione of the novel is a transsexual named Nickie Farrell who returns to her Northern Virginia alma mater, Windfield, to teach English as an associate professor. It's the college she attended when she was a male. Nickie is unaware that she has a son in a nearby town from an illicit love affair she had during her male undergraduate days. Windfield College was financed and built by Randall Windfield, the sole surviving heir of wealthy Hendrix Windfield III, who had wanted to set up Randall as the successor to run the family empire. But, upon learning that Randall was a homosexual, his father humiliated him at a big dinner party and would likely have disowned him if it weren't for the fact that he and the other siblings died in a plane crash, leaving Randall as the heir.
The person Nickie had the affair with when she was a male and called Nick is Luanne Skinner, wife of ex-policeman James Robert "Jay-Bo" Skinner, who she had a set of twins, a boy and a girl, by at the time of the affair. She loved Nick, and his tender way of love making and that he had one blue and one brown eye. The boy that resulted from the affair, Colin "Collie" Skinner also has two different colored eyes. He can't stand his father's prejudiced red-necked opinions, though he himself doesn't like gays, and found it hard to face hearing about his sister's lesbian love affair when she was in the military and her suicide that happened as a result of the news getting out. As you read, you just know that Nickie and Collie are destined to eventually meet. The only question is when, and how each will react to the other.
Also, there's a suspenseful subplot involving Ambassador Eamon Douglass, who is dying of cancer and who considers himself to be a patriot. He hates the decline he imagines is happening in America, brought about by liberalism, the Jews, the homosexuals, etc., and as a convenient target of his hate and prejudice he's chosen Windfield College. He hatches the idea to enlist the aid of his old Russian friend, Egor Antonovich, who is an ex-KGB agent, to obtain Cesium 137 and then to sacrifice himself in a suicide bombing at the college.
That's just a brief sketch of the plot. When I heard about it prior to reading it, and also read that the author, Iolanthe Woulff, was born a boy and the son of the famous author Herman Wouk, I thought honestly that the plot was sort of odd and twisted. I thought that despite her father's being a famous author, there was a good chance Woulff's novel would not be that well-written and possibly might be crap. On top of these initial feelings, though I have a live-and-let live attitude about one's sexual preference, I am a heterosexual, happily married with kids, and I was leery that there might be some graphic sex scenes in the novel and that it'd be some trashy soft-core gay porno novel.
That's me being honest; but, I am glad I read the novel I'm referring to, SHE'S MY DAD. I think it's one of the most literate and well-written books I've read in a long time. Iolanthe Woulff is a remarkable writer who reminds me of a cross between John Irving, at least when I think of his novel THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, and Tom Wolfe. The fictional Windfield College is portrayed brilliantly, and the prejudice that some townspeople have towards the college and gays, as personified by colorful and narrow-minded characters like Jay-Bo, Eamon Douglass, and others, is handled deftly.
The title of the novel is not exactly my favorite, but it does reflect Collie's eventual love and acceptance of his father. This is a relatively minor beef, though, as the writing is excellent throughout; and no matter what the subject matter is of a book, that is the most important consideration for me of whether a book is "good" and worth the time spent reading it or not. SHE'S MY DAD is a page-turning debut novel, and I hope it gets a wide audience. I'm looking forward to reading more from the talented pen of Iolanthe Woulff in the future.
Douglas R. Cobb, bestsellersworld.com
Reviews for "She's My Dad"
Reviewed by Diane Walters (Reader)
Intriguing! Honest! Refreshing!
My first thought when I saw the high ratings for “She’s My Dad” was the author must have a lot of friends--the book cannot be that good. And, even though I do review books I am happy to report that all the reviews are accurate. There’s no fudging on this one.
“She’s My Dad” is not what I expected it to be. It is not a journey of mismatched sour romances; nor it is a book of soul searching, familiar movies, or transsexuals. Even though the book does have a transsexual person in it, it is not about the process or the whys and whatnots. It is a modern day allegory that shows the inside truth of people set in a northern Virginia college town. The college openly accepts everyone through their doors who wants an education; but, there are some people who were bred in Southern tradition and are set about what they feel should be right and proper—and, they are not happy about Windfield College. And, they plan to do something about it.
This book is as fun as it is smart. It is not written in the typical fifth-grade English that most novels today are. Actually, there are interesting words that pique one’s curiosity of how the characters interact with each other; however, not so many as to bog down the flow of the storyline. In addition to the intelligence of the book, it is witty, clever, and engaging—full of suspense and mystery. Ms. Woulff has an amazing ability to paint the character portraits with incredible sharpness and clarity so you don’t lose sight of who is doing what.
What further surprised me was the interesting storyline. I certainly was not expecting sub-plots that involved big ugly brutes and wealthy crime bosses who were involved in home-grown terrorism. There are many interesting side stories that puzzle into the main characters’ lives and plot of the book. Every one of them is clearly defined and is woven ever so carefully into the climax of the novel. Normally, this type of literature (crime, guns, things that go boom, etc.) does not interest me; but, this was so well written I could not put it down. The more I read, the hungrier I got.
Be forewarned that there are a few characters that use foul language occasionally; and, there are some scenes that are briefly sexual. That being aside, considering the sensitive nature of some of the material, I felt, it was handled with great care.
Overall, I absolutely loved the book! Loved it! The message it brings us is so important—so necessary, that I wish it were in every library, college, and bookstore in America. Better than that—it really needs to be a movie.
Note: I'd like to thank both Iolanthe Woulff for this lovely copy of "She's My Dad" and Review the Book.com for this opportunity.
Suspense-filled "She's My Dad" is a book you don't want to put down! From the opening paragraph the reader is sucked in as the story unfolds from the perspectives of the well-developed characters as they each deal with life in different ways.
The battle between good and evil is centered around the main character in the book who is a transsexual person. Those who are closed-minded tend to be judgmental and hateful. Others struggle to change attitudes and perceptions.
Iolanthe Woulff knows how to weave intrigue throughout a plot that deals with homophobia and transphobia in a conservative culture.
I had to read the book in one sitting! A really good read!
Dayvid Graybill, M.Div.
Mountain States Mennonite Conference
Mennonite Church USA
By Iolanthe Woulff
Outskirts Press, Inc.
"Reverend Shorr sipped a glass of water. 'Sometimes I think that the scientific community has taken us all much too far, much too fast. Life was complicated enough before...But we mustn’t second-guess our Lord...'"
What a powerful suspense drama! She’s My Dad by Iolanthe Woulff is a provocative hold-no-bars book that successfully illustrates the power of both love and hate. Woulff does this through characters that are so alive with their emotions that readers are immediately caught within the honest reality portrayed. Fascinating!
By nature of the material covered, readers should be aware that some content might be offensive. Personally, I didn’t find it so because the characters that were offensive were those I enjoyed hating! Then, too, as Reverend Shorr admitted in the book, there is too little written and taught about today’s sexuality and our technological world. I believe this type of fiction is one of the ways by which it can be shown how love can triumph over hate. The novel is somewhat based upon the true experience of the author. She has my admiration for her courage.
Nickie Farrell graduated from Windfield College and then came back many years later to apply for a temporary position replacing an English professor. During her college years, she had participated in an affair with a local resident and a child had come from that relationship. Nickie was the father of that child.
During her absence, Nickie had undergone a medically monitored sex change and was now a beautiful woman. At least Alex Steward thought so since upon their first meeting, Nickie and Alex had been immediately attracted to each other.
Beautiful love story? Not!
There was an excessive amount of town-gown tension between Windfield students and local residents. There was sufficient history that was still remembered by residents, especially, Ambassador Eamon Douglass, of how the free-thinking liberal college had been started and the students who arrived in town were either ignored, hated or worse.
As Nickie became involved in teaching, one particularly zealous journalism major started noticing and wondering about Nickie’s background and started to investigate. In many ways, her news article set off much that occurred, but it was hate and fear that fed the major events, which finally culminated in a terrorist plan to bomb the College!
This book is about hope. Hope for a time when those who are different in some way are not automatically hated. There will always be evil people, but they cannot be stereotyped. They could be your neighbors or your supposed friends. As proclaimed several times in the book, “Hate destroys everything. Don’t let it destroy you.”
Thank you Iolanthe Woulff for She’s My Dad—a highly recommended, truly remarkable book!
I just finished reading "She's my Dad" and have to say that for a first time novelist, Iolanthe Woulff has hit a home run. Everything you would want in a novel is spun out in 456 pages of suspense, romance, intrigue and the revealing truth about the human condition.
The story centers around Nickie Farrell, who has returned to the college she graduated from twenty five years earlier, as a male. In the telling of this story we find characters that are created and made real, through meeting these individuals we love some, we hate others, and we understand the unique experience of traveling from one gender to another, all through this well crafted book.
I recommend buying and reading "She's my Dad" you will love the journey, and something tells me that Lannie Woulff has many more stories for us in the future.