Born into the beautiful bedlam of downtown New York in the eighties, iO Tillett Wright came of age at the intersection of punk, poverty, heroin, and art. This was a world of self-invented characters, glamorous superstars, and strung-out sufferers, ground zero of drag and performance art. Still, no personality was more vibrant and formidable than iO’s mother’s. Rhonna, a showgirl and young widow, was a mercurial, erratic glamazon. She was iO’s fiercest defender and only authority in a world with few boundaries and even fewer indicators of normal life. At the center of Darling Days is the remarkable relationship between a fiery kid and a domineering ma—a bond defined by freedom and control, excess and sacrifice; by heartbreaking deprivation, agonizing rupture, and, ultimately, forgiveness.
Darling Days is also a provocative examination of culture and identity, of the instincts that shape us and the norms that deform us, and of the courage and resilience it takes to listen closely to your deepest self. When a group of boys refuse to let six-year-old, female-born iO play ball, iO instantly adopts a new persona, becoming a boy named Ricky—a choice iO’s parents support and celebrate. It is the start of a profound exploration of gender and identity through the tenderest years, and the beginning of a life invented and reinvented at every step. Alternating between the harrowing and the hilarious, Darling Days is the candid, tough, and stirring memoir of a young person in search of an authentic self as family and home life devolve into chaos.
Genderqueer activist and writer Wright (Lose My Number) aims to create the next great New York City memoir, but stumbles along the way. Wright's tale of growing up in Manhattan in the late 1980s and '90s, is in broad strokes a tale of love and loss both referring to her mother Rhonna, a force of nature whose fierce, unconditional love for her child morphs over years to become an abusive, substance-addicted relationship. That chaos bleeds into all theaters (sometimes literally both Wright and Rhonna are performers) of Wright's life. The book's most vital aspect is its exploration of growing up gender-variant, and Wright's passionate descriptions of her fear of gendered bathrooms and locker rooms, self-baffling relationship with sex and sexuality, and attempts to "pass" as a boy from the age of six have never been more timely. The prose is beautiful and aches with emotion. However, Wright may put off her transgender readers with her casual use of transmisogynist slurs. Cisgender readers will derive a great deal of insight into the developing mind of a trans child.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Beautiful, Gut Wrenching and Raw
I love this book so much. The words are so eloquently written. The love and pain oozes from every page of his story. Thank you, IO for sharing your story with the world. He is a brave and courageous human and I admire his strength. I love the relationship he has with his ma! No matter what they still loved each other even when they thought they didn’t. They remind me of me and my ma. His story is written with such rigorous honesty. Self discovery isn’t always easy to share especially when your audience is the entire world! It takes guts! I love his loyalty and he is an extraordinary writer! I hope to read more of your writing! Thanks IO!
Raw and emotional
Loved the descriptive way that iO told her true tale of a dysfunctional family. I felt her frustration and confusion about her Ma, her gender and her lovers. I couldn't believe this took place during the 90's. I kept thinking it was during the 70's with all the drugs and people swapping beds. A very interesting book.