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Becoming Nicole

The Transformation of an American Family
Written by: Amy Ellis Nutt
Narrated by: Amy Ellis Nutt
Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller

The inspiring true story of transgender actor and activist Nicole Maines, whose identical twin brother, Jonas, and ordinary American family join her on an extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all.

Nicole appears as TV’s first transgender superhero on CW’s Supergirl

When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But by the time Jonas and Wyatt were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, to accept Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and to undergo a wrenching transformation of their own, the effects of which would reverberate through their entire community. 

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amy Ellis Nutt spent almost four years reporting this story and tells it with unflinching honesty, intimacy, and empathy. In her hands, Becoming Nicole is more than an account of a courageous girl and her extraordinary family. It’s a powerful portrait of a slowly but surely changing nation, and one that will inspire all of us to see the world with a little more humanity and understanding.

Named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by People

One of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review and Men’s Journal

A Stonewall Honor Book in Nonfiction

Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction

“Fascinating and enlightening.” (Cheryl Strayed)

“If you aren’t moved by Becoming Nicole, I’d suggest there’s a lump of dark matter where your heart should be.” (The New York Times)

“Exceptional... ‘Stories move the walls that need to be moved,’ Nicole told her father last year. In telling Nicole’s story and those of her brother and parents luminously, and with great compassion and intelligence, that is exactly what Amy Ellis Nutt has done here.” (The Washington Post)

“A profoundly moving true story about one remarkable family’s evolution.” (People)

Becoming Nicole is a miracle. It’s the story of a family struggling with - and embracing - a transgender child. But more than that, it’s about accepting one another, and ourselves, in all our messy, contradictory glory.” (Jennifer Finney Boylan, former co-chair of GLAAD and author of She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders)

©2015 Amy Ellis Nutt (P)2015 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“Fascinating and enlightening.” (Cheryl Strayed)

“Reading strictly for plot, Becoming Nicole is about a transgender girl who triumphed in a landmark discrimination case.... But the real movement in this book happens internally, in the back caverns of each family member’s heart and mind. Four ordinary and imperfect human beings had to reckon with an exceptional situation, and in so doing also became, in their own modest ways, exceptional.... If you aren’t moved by Becoming Nicole, I’d suggest there’s a lump of dark matter where your heart should be.” (Jennifer Senior, The New York Times)

“Exceptional... ‘Stories move the walls that need to be moved,’ Nicole told her father last year. In telling Nicole’s story and those of her brother and parents luminously, and with great compassion and intelligence, that is exactly what Amy Ellis Nutt has done here.” (The Washington Post)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars

Very Inspirational!

Loved it! Very inspiring as I am the Mom of a transgender teen boy and thus story was close to my heart! There were some moments that brought tears to my eyes because I could totally relate since the same thing happened to us! 🌈

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  • book worm
  • 2015-10-22

More narratives like this, please.

Any additional comments?

One apprehensive mother starts her search on the internet, key words: little boy dresses up in girl clothes. What a roller coaster ride after that. This is Nicole's story, and her parents, less of what the impact was on her twin Jonas. Mesmerizing are the first few paragraphs of the book: little boy dances and watches himself dressed in fairy sparklies, reflected in the oven door. While his perplexed and frightened Dad pleads with him to "make a muscle". I am going to listen again, so much is troubling...one mother chastising the family for "giving up too soon", after the boy toddler is playing with girl toys, even poignantly wondering when his own "p*nis was going to fall off". Very well written and narrated by the author. I don't know that a man could have narrated this successfully. I hope we get additional, thorough narratives of what the people go through, those captured in a body that does not reflect what's going on inside. Thanks to the author, thanks to the family for opening the door to their lives.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2015-10-28

excellent story , poor narration

I will probably finish listening as the story is compelling but I feel the author is one of the poorest narrators I've heard. Sadly, her staccato , flat intonation interferes with the whole experience. the wish I'd purchased a printed version instead.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 2018-02-27

Flat, Not Expected

The narration is not only flat as others have pointed out, but this compounds with the story taking constant turns towards rattling off facts about biology and sexuality. I was expecting a story about a family, perhaps their perspectives, more about them growing as people and less shallow backstories followed by their part in a political movement.

A few chapters I greatly enjoyed, but the narrator detracts from that enjoyment. Just a stiff, odd experience. Their lives come off as sterile, most people simply backdrops and no real point to any of it other than some interesting individual parts that are likely similar to other transgender coming out stories.

TLDR; Enjoyed learning about the family, wish the narration was a lot better, book ended without any real sense of catharsis, enjoyment or anything memorable.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Claire
  • 2018-09-05

Bogged down and shallow

I’m not at all impressed with this book. While I understand that it’s based on a true story, it gets bogged down in the legal battle the characters faced and did very little to discuss the development of the people overall. Reading (listening to) this book, one would think the transgender battle is solely about the right to use the bathroom corresponding to one’s preferred gender. The author really did nothing to understand or help the reader understand the characters. Also, her facts are a little off. For example, she claims that Winx Club was a show Wyatt watched on Nickelodeon as a young child, but Nickelodeon didn’t obtain the rights to the show until 2011 and Wyatt would’ve been teenage Nicole by then. This is the most minor of factual errors. Also, some of her anecdotal claims seem unreal. I’m not saying they’re false since I wasn’t there, but the conversations she claims these children had don’t seem like things children would say... maybe teens but not young children.

Overall, it just seemed like a shallow rehashing of a legal case based on public records. It’s bad storytelling and I wouldn’t recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Patricia
  • 2016-06-21

Great book - terrible narration

Well written, informative and heart-felt story. I wish they had hired a great narrator. The staccato, mono-tone reading was almost painful and I would have to stop listening at times. I struggled to finish the book and wished I had purchased the actual book so as to be spared the tortuous narration. A really good narrator would have made this book something one could not put down.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Lemuel G.
  • 2015-11-13

Very helpful and inspiring

The book was wonderful, but the author should not have narrated it. Raspy, flat and nasal.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Levi
  • 2015-11-04

Stunning

This book was not only beautiful but informative. I'm so thankful a book like this exists and will be recommending it at the book store where I work. Everyone should read this book!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Connie
  • 2016-01-15

Quite interesting to me

Anybody who has a transgender person in their family or their group of friends or school should read this book. It will give you a lot to think about. I do wish the author had chosen a professional narrator. It was a bit hard to listen to her try to narrate it.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Ann
  • 2019-08-31

Awesome Book!

To anyone who has a child or love one faced with the same issues Nicole encountered Throughout her journey. This book not only makes you understand transgenders, Gayes and lesbians, this story puts the life of those who are different yet the same all in perspective for you. It will educate you on things that you thought you knew. Personally I would like to thank Amy Ellis Nutt for writing this book and I applaud Nicole and her family for fighting the good fight.

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  • W Meade
  • 2019-04-10

So enlightening

Should be required listening for biased adults and legislators. We are all different and is that not wonderful.