Paralian: Not Just Transgender by Liam Klenk

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Paralian: Not Just Transgender by Liam Klenk

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Category: Autobiography
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: Uplifting, enlightening and ever engaging, Paralian is a life story filled with dramatic events and major life changes. Well written, with a relatable tone and easy flowing prose, what really shines through is the author's attitude to life. No true life sob story here – this book follows a fascinating journey through life, gently educates on the subject of gender dysphoria, and, above all else, the author's attitude and nature shine throughout, making this a hopeful and mood enhancing read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: May 2016
Publisher: Matador
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781785891205

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Paralian is an Ancient Greek word, meaning one who lives by the sea. Here, we follow the author's journey through life, narrated by his relationship to water – the river he grew up near, the oceans he crosses, and the water that later becomes his place of work. A tumultuous journey, we follow the author in his quest to find authentic self and happiness, against an incredible array of adversities. At five months old, Liam was adopted from an orphanage – and thus began a journey to conquer childhood disability, issues with parents, marriages, divorces, and gender dysphoria.

The tragic life story had rather a renaissance in recent times – A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer, Ugly by Constance Briscoe, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey (although that one was later to be found to be more fiction than fact), have all been part of a publishing phenomenon in the last 20 years. They all tended to be horribly upsetting, ending with a ray of hope but normally shaking the readers belief in humanity somewhat.

So, it was with some trepidation that I picked up Paralian – I did have some doubts that that this would be a traumatic and upsetting read. And, in part, I was right – there is trauma, and there is upset, and Liam Klenk goes through more than most will ever go through in their lives. But this isn't a difficult or hard read at all, as the author has such an incredible will and personality that shine through the page. He's not one to get defeated by life, and as such this turns from a tale of hardship and difficulty to a tale of learning how to overcome difficulty and the power of optimism. It also covers ground that isn't readily written about – there is plenty of information in the media about transitioning from male to female, but those transitioning from female to male tend to receive less coverage – and it's utterly fascinating to read about Klenk's journey.

Refreshing, enlightening, and a darn good read, Paralian covers difficult life situations with an optimism and grace that will surprise the coldest of readers, and as such is a read I can heartily recommend to all – I imagine, like me, you'll come out of the book uplifted and positive by the read. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy. For further reading I recommend Out of Bounds by Bruce Hugman – another portrait of a period in an incredible life, and one told with great dignity, grace, and optimism – much like Paralian.

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