From the famous gender rights activist and bestselling author of She’s Not There comes another buoyant, unforgettable memoir—about growing up in a haunted house...and making peace with the ghosts that dwell in our hearts.
For Jennifer Boylan, creaking stairs, fleeting images in the mirror, and the remote whisper of human voices were everyday events in the Pennsylvania house in which she grew up in the 1970s. But these weren’t the only specters beneath the roof of the mansion known as the “Coffin House.” Jenny herself—born James—lived in a haunted body, and both her mysterious, diffident father and her wild, unpredictable sister would soon become ghosts to Jenny as well.
I’m Looking Through You is an engagingly candid investigation of what it means to be “haunted.” Looking back on the spirits who invaded her family home, Boylan launches a full investigation with the help of a group of earnest, if questionable, ghostbusters. Boylan also examines the ways we find connections between the people we once were and the people we become. With wit and eloquence, Boylan shows us how love, forgiveness, and humor help us find peace—with our ghosts, with our loved ones, and with the uncanny boundaries, real and imagined, between men and women.
Boylan, an English professor, novelist and memoirist (She s Not There: A Life in Two Genders), tells of growing up in a haunted house in Pennsylvania, where phantom footfalls and spectral mists were practically commonplace. This was a fitting-enough setting for young Boylan, then a boy who longed to become a girl. Back then I knew very little for certain about whatever it was that afflicted me, she writes. n order to survive, I d have to become something like a ghost myself, and keep the nature of my true self hidden. In 2006, years after her sex change, Boylan returned to her childhood home with a band of local ghostbusters as she struggled to reconcile with her past as James Boylan, as well as her memories of family members she d loved and lost there. This memoir is better suited for those interested in broader human truths than in fact (a disclaimer in the author s note explains that she s taken liberties in service of the story); readers in the former category are in for a treat. Boylan writes with a measured comedic timing and a light touch, affecting a pitch-perfect balance between sorrow, skepticism and humor. In spite of the singularity of Boylan s circumstance, the coming-of-age story has far-reaching resonance: estrangement in one s own home, alienation in one s own skin and the curious ways that men and women come to know themselves and one another.