Personal, political and passionate, Finding Nevo is an autobiography about gender and everything that comes with it.
Meet Nevo: girl, boy, he, she, him, her, they, them, daughter, son, teacher, student, friend, gay, bi, lesbian, trans, homo, Jew, dyke, masculine, feminine, androgynous, queer.
Nevo was not born in the wrong body. Nevo just wants everyone to catch up with all that Nevo is. Personal, political and passionate, Finding Nevo is an autobiography about gender and everything that comes with it.
Finding Nevo by Nevo Zisin is an inspirational memoir about identity and discovery. This is Nevo’s journey towards understanding their body and discovering who they want to be in the world.
This isn’t a long read — about 200 pages — and the book is incredibly informative. Nevo explains a lot of things about being non-binary and also transgender that readers can learn from, and this is not just medically or physiologically, but mentally.
When Nevo was going through various stages in their adolescent life, like coming out or changing their body, Nevo’s family, friends and peers didn’t always react how Nevo would’ve liked them too. It was rather confronting to read, and important to understand what Nevo’s childhood and adolescent life was like.
“Gender dysmorphia is this fun thing that happens sometimes when you exist outside of society’s very narrow understandings of gender, and it slowly started sneaking into my life.”
Nevo’s biography is really insightful, and not just for young readers. The book masterfully captures what life has been like for Nevo, both mentally but also physically. I learnt a lot from reading this.
Finding Nevo also addresses how society and the media like to portray transgender people. For example, the media describing someone as ‘being born in the wrong body’ is common, but not something that Nevo feels they went through. That isn’t them. So, it’s important to remember that every transgender person’s experiences are different, and if you don’t know what they’d like to be called, ask them. It’s important to keep them in the discussion so that you don’t end up marginalising them.
“Maybe I was neither male nor female, man or woman. Maybe the idea of gender is socially constructed through institutions and social norms we’ve created. Gender has changed through time, cultures and geographies.”
There is only one thing about this book that I didn’t particularly like, and that was the slight repetition of sentences when reflecting on past events. Often, Nevo would explain how something in their life made them feel, and then Nevo would explain how they overcame that. However, after that, Nevo would then again explain how they initially felt about it, and that final sentence always seemed unnecessary. Here’s an example of a couple of pages in the book that end up circling:
“The situation with my mum wasn’t improving. I had thought she was dealing with things in her own time, but she wasn’t confronting my transition at all, rather she was pushing it to the side an hoping it would go away…I had a few more conversations with her, then realised she needed to speak to people who were more detached from the situation…Although I still feel pain in regards to how she treated me at the beginning of my transition, her ability to take responsibility for her mistakes and apologise is what has saved our relationship.”
Even though that final sentence allows Nevo to reflect, there are quite a few moments in the book where a reflection statement is made and I think they could’ve been cut from the book. It felt repetitive, and I think the reader is able to understand the significance of these moments already.
I recommend this book to any young reader who doesn’t feel comfortable in their body, or who feels unable to be themselves around family or friends. I also recommend this book to people who feel like they have a lot to learn about gender and identity and what someone who is transgender might be going through. Finding Nevo is as much a learning tool as it is a memoir.
Walker Books Australia