Surpassing Certainty by Janet Mock
Written by Ashley Kelmore, Posted in Reviews
Best for: Fans of Ms. Mock’s writing and those interested in learning more about her life; people interested in a tight memoir focused on just a few years of early adulthood.
In a nutshell: Author Janet Mock shares part of the story she chose not to include in her first memoir “Redefining Realness.”
Line that sticks with me: “I did not have the luxury to sulk, though. I could not wallow. I could not let my bitterness affect the quality of my work. Doing so would only make it harder for those coming after me.”
Why I chose it: I enjoyed Ms. Mock’s first memoir and wanted to read more.
Review: It took me awhile to get really into this book. I’m not sure if it was because of the week I was having, but it took me about a week to read the first half and just an afternoon to finish it. I’m glad I pushed through, because it’s a great read.
Ms. Mock shared her journey as a trans woman in her first memoir. However, she left out her first romantic relationship and marriage, which she delves into in this book. She explores her work as an exotic dancer, her time in college in Rhode Island and Hawaii, her marriage to a man in the Navy, and her pursuit of a journalism career in New York City.
She is candid about the challenges in her relationship, and about the challenges she had in undergraduate and graduate school, and as a woman of color in publishing. Her moments of revelation around colorism and around her confidence being perceived negatively are especially poignant.
Ms. Mock writes in language that is a bit flowery for my preference, but she tells a great story. This is not to say that I think she do anything different; sometimes I find her writing feels more like a novel than creative non-fiction. And perhaps that is a good thing; I just can find it a bit challenging to navigate. But clearly that’s not a barrier for me, as I still picked this up having read her first book.