I was so blown away by this essay collection. Melissa Faliveno is a natural storyteller and an extraordinarily gifted writer. So whether she's talking about tornados or gender identity or growing up in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin, she writes with a sense of wonder and curiousity about the world and the people she's talking with and about her self and her own struggles with a body that doesn't always comply with expectations. She gives you access to her thinking in a way that makes you feel special for having read it, for being allowed to know what she knows. I came away from this collection absolutely in awe. What a generous, funny, thoughtful, and thought-provoking collection. Can't recommend this highly enough.— Susan
A fiercely personal and startlingly universal essay collection about the mysteries of gender and desire, of identity and class, of the stories we tell and the places we call home.
Flyover country, the middle of nowhere, the space between the coasts. The American Midwest is a place beyond definition, whose very boundaries are a question. It's a place of rolling prairies and towering pines, where guns in bars and trucks on blocks are as much a part of the landscape as rivers and lakes and farms. Where girls are girls and boys are boys, where women are mothers and wives, where one is taught to work hard and live between the lines. But what happens when those lines become increasingly unclear? When a girl, like the land that raised her, finds herself neither here nor there?
In this intrepid collection of essays, Melissa Faliveno traverses the liminal spaces of her childhood in working-class Wisconsin and the paths she's traveled since, compelled by questions of girlhood and womanhood, queerness and class, and how the lands of our upbringing both define and complicate us even long after we've left. Part personal narrative, part cultural reportage, Tomboyland navigates midwestern traditions, mythologies, landscapes, and lives to explore the intersections of identity and place. From F5 tornadoes and fast-pitch softball to gun culture, strange glacial terrains, kink party potlucks, and the question of motherhood, Faliveno asks curious, honest, and often darkly funny questions about belonging and the body, isolation and community, and what we mean when we use words like woman, family, and home.