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Pageboy: A Memoir


Pageboy: A Memoir

It seems only fitting that I write this review on the same day that we celebrate Bloomsday, the day on which James Joyce set ULYSSES, his infamous book about Leopold Bloom, Ireland’s great literary truth-teller. For writing a book full of real truths about nationalism, sexuality and religion, Joyce was banished from his home country of Ireland (today, however, he is rightly celebrated there and all over the world).

Elliot Page is a young trans man who withstood insane scrutiny over his transition in the bedlam that is the world of social media. Coming forward as a well-respected Hollywood icon, Page has opened up a dialogue that seems very important today, as the topics of gender and sexuality are as circumspect to the right-leaning world as they were in Joyce’s Dublin in 1904. PAGEBOY is the brilliant name of his memoir; with it, he expresses his own truth in a way that will celebrate and raise up the LGBTQ+ community on so many levels.

"[T]he most salient and emotional parts of the book are not able to be sensationalized --- Page's coming of age, knowing he was a man but forced to portray himself as what society expected him to be."

It’s also Pride Month in America, and the conversation is centered mostly on acceptance, love and providing necessary help to a community that is a vibrant part of our society. As Page shares with us the most intimate details of his coming of age and his time in Hollywood, he is doing so much more than telling his story. He is highlighting the joyful and difficult aspects of all trans folk in this day and age.

Page goes pretty much in order, from his childhood in Nova Scotia to his days as a young Oscar nominee for his celebrated role in Juno. That is where the story takes off into a sometimes harrowing account of the many ways in which he was sexually harassed, abused and gossiped into outing himself when he didn’t wish to do so (thanks to Michael Musto of the Village Voice). To consider the hazards he had to wend his way through as a young actor is to consider the same stories of all other queer, trans and non-binary celebrities in similar positions. Talent can’t save you from the decrepit, archaic ways in which those with power treat those who create the art.

However, the most salient and emotional parts of the book are not able to be sensationalized --- Page's coming of age, knowing he was a man but forced to portray himself as what society expected him to be. Before the political, there is the personal. His deft prose drives the reader into a safe space of understanding what the rhetoric and hate speech of the present political climate obscures. This is one man’s journey, but it is a story that resonates with millions of trans people and the queer community across the globe.

I saw Page speak about the book on the night of its “coming out.” Although he may be a funny guy, he also is a very serious advocate for the celebration of tolerance, care and love in this environment. From his first kiss to his divorce, Page never makes short shrift of the pain and emotional introspection required of him to live as his authentic self. His intelligent and moving prose often made me want to write him a note to say that he has every right to be angrier at his abusers and the world at large that puts his life in danger. But his Canadian forthrightness focuses instead on the platform he has to bring a conversation about belonging to the public debate instead of furthering divisiveness.

I can only imagine the many tween and teen fans of “The Umbrella Academy,” Page’s latest big success, reading PAGEBOY and finding a true advocate and friend in this man, with his righteous words and loving heart. Thank you, Elliot Page, for the love you have for your brothers and sisters all over the world.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on June 17, 2023

Pageboy: A Memoir
by Elliot Page

  • Publication Date: June 6, 2023
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250878357
  • ISBN-13: 9781250878359