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She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  487 ratings  ·  93 reviews
New York Times Editors' Choice

In this poignant memoir of personal transformation, Jill Soloway takes us on a patriarchy-toppling emotional and professional journey. When Jill's parent came out as transgender, Jill pushed through the male-dominated landscape of Hollywood to create the groundbreaking and award-winning Amazon TV series Transparent. Exploring identity, love,
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 16th 2018 by Crown Archetype
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Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Crown Publishing who provided an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

Jill Soloway is the creator, director, producer and writer of the excellent Amazon series "Transparent." I am not normally a watcher of fictional television, but the invitation to watch this kept appearing on the swipe screen of my Kindle Fire HDX. Being an Amazon Prime customer, I decided to check it out. The premise of this show is a very unique and provocative one for its time. It's about a father named Mort Pfeff
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
--- Disclaimer: I received a free copy of She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy from Crown Archetype in a Goodreads giveaway. ---

I had never heard of Jill Soloway and had never watched Transparent, so was not drawn to this book for those reasons. The title implies that this book will be some manner of feminist or queer manifesto. As much as Soloway wanted it to be, it was neither of those things. Make no mistake, this is a celebrity memoir, chock full of "Reese Witherspoon/Opr
Aug 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ----

I'll have to come back & do a proper review on this, but for now I'll just let the 1-star speak for itself. Don't waste your time. I mean, this title isn't even appropriate. So much better stuff exists regarding gender-identity.


So, I am going to try & do this review so I can mark it as done, but after taking some time to think I've not changed my mind about it. This book sucks. Bad writing & no story, ju

Sue Dix
Oct 02, 2018 rated it liked it
ARC from First To Read, Penguin House. I have to admit to skimming to the last few pages of the book. I was enjoying the beginning of the book, but it seemed to devolve into manic episodes of “this happened” and “this happened” and then “this happened” to the point where I was having a hard time following along. I’m happy that Jill Soloway has found who they are. It was just extremely overwhelming and I suppose that’s the point, isn’t it.

I also feel that the subtitle is deceptive. I didn’t get a
"Women spend the first half of our lives afraid we're going to get raped and the second half afraid we're going to find a lump."

I received a copy of this ebook from in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to like this book and I've been trying to figure out why I didn't love it and it comes down to for being a memoir this book still lacked some structure, the tone fluctuated a lot (which also goes back to structure), and it sort of seems like this book was written in the middle
Chloe Metzger
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Going into this book I thought I'd be reading a great book exploring feminism, the impact of a later in life Transition etc. I'll put it out there I didn't know who Jill Soloway was when I requested this and I've never watched Transparent - but it looked interesting and so I thought why not?

The first half of the book was really interesting- Jill discusses the changes in her life as her parent comes out as Trans and how that lead to the birth of the hit Amazon series. Reading about the implicati
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs, 2018
I've been on such a memoir kick on the last year, but recently I've noticed some memoirs come out that don't really tell a story so much as a soliloquy. This is how I felt about She Wants It. Soloway brings up important topics and gives us a voice that we don't often hear, just as on Transparent, but I didn't lose myself in this story. It really felt like being stuck in a conversation with someone who won't stop talking about themselves: sometimes interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes you just ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, memoir, research
As a viewer of Transparent and an avid reader of TV women's memoirs (or femoirs), I knew I wanted to read it (yay for branching out into enbymoirs!) and I'm very grateful to NetGalley for making it possible. All opinions are my own, but bear in mind that this is one of the genres I'm most interested in.

I found Soloway's voice engaging and funny, even when their attitude could run towards a little annoying; a problem familiar to readers of celebrity personal journey tales. Soloway seems self-awar
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Fascinating in some ways. I think it’s very much what Soloway must be like in real life and I just feel sorry for her kids. I read it thinking she’d have some unique perspective on women’s rights and media portrayals. She does, and it seems to come from a very privileged self-serving place. Two stars because I think it will serve as an interesting topic at book clubs.
Holly Barker
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
The title (and subtitle) of this book implies that it is a feminist manifesto and it is not. At least, not until the last third of the book. If that portion of the book had been expanded and worked additionally, I would have been much happier with this book (though that section does have it's own issues). However, the majority of the book is a naval-gazing memoir in one of the worst possible ways, wherein the author comes across more as a needy, selfish, self-congratulatory user. This saddens me ...more
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
I read this because wife had and she had been VERY vocal about her reading.

As always, it's difficult to separate an opinion on a memoir of one's opinion on the memoir's author. One thing that surprised me is that at many points, Solloway *reacts* to things and events (their parent's coming out, which seems to put an entire chain of changes into motion) rather than being the instigator of actions.  

There were aspects of this book that were fascinating to read. Solloway offers a particular insight
Yzabel Ginsberg
[I received a copy of this book through the First To Read program, in exchange for an honest review.]

I had only watched the first season of “Transparent” before, but I guess I knew enough then to recognise the author’s name, and be interested in the book’s premise. As a word of warning, though, if you’re in the same case… uh, the book contains spoilers as to the next seasons. I wasn’t too happy about that, especially since I had been able to avoid them so far. Or maybe it was just unavoidable fo
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have devoured this in two sittings over 1.5 days. It was a mix of insider film/TV industry gossip, the best dinner party guest, and therapy for highly-functioning highly-anxious workaholic creative types. A fast-read for fans of Soloway and their work.
Olga Fry
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Given the title of the memoir, I'd expected something different from the author. However, I thought it was less about Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy than it was about muddling through the writer's love life and an eerily close relationship with Faith, her sister, that she kept alluding to. It all felt oddly disjointed, jumping from topic to topic. Things moved so quickly you couldn't quite get a grasp on the scenes and what was being conveyed.

Parts of the memoir were interesting. I w
Cheryl Clearwater
The subtitle does not match the contents.
It is a morbidly interesting behind-the-scenes account of Jill Soloway's questionable motivations in creating and representing the Transparent series that answers the question of whether any family could really be just like the Pfeffermans.
The conversation between Soloway and Lysette at the end is particularly upsetting and is certainly no example of toppling the patriarchy nor of any ethical grappling with desire and power dynamics.
Here's a good revie
Emily Gibbons
Updated Review: 30/10/18

I'm taking this book from 3 stars down to 2 stars. I saw this book, requested it, downloaded it, read it, and reviewed it in around 2 days. The problem with that is that I had a ton of mixed emotions when I was reading it which I didn't give myself time to parse through. I do think this memoir was successful on a couple of counts: that of Soloway's internal life and therapy sessions, and the exploration of their relationships. There was a lot of cringy content there, bu
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Soloway writes candidly about their experience learning that their parent was transgender and, consequently, about their own creation of the show Transparent. When "writing a TV show about people who are all fragments of you," they say, "you can never tell what comes first, the fiction or the reality." They acknowledge some famously cringeworthy missteps along the way, and this gives the reader a chance to see the missteps from Soloway's perspective. It isn't necessary to have watched Transparen ...more
Karla Strand
Read my full review:

As a fan of Transparent, I was excited to score an uncorrected proof of Jill Soloway’s (they, them, theirs) new book She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy from NetGalley. Soloway is also an alum of University of Wisconsin-Madison and queer, so I have always been curious about them. I was quickly hooked after the first few pages of reading about their childhood, their family, a
Diane Hernandez
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
She Wants It is a Hollywood film and television memoir by Jill Soloway. Jill is the writer/director of Amazon’s Transparent. Transparent is based on Jill’s real life.

Jill’s father was depressed and a mostly absent workaholic father during her childhood. After Jill and her sister, Faith, went to college, their parents divorced.

During an early morning phone call, Jill is the first family member to which her father comes out to as trans. Jill’s first thought is this is part of her story and she was
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, memoir, non-fiction
I think Soloway wrote/published this book too soon.
Jill Soloway is the show runner for Transparent, who came out as non-binary not too long ago and who, ironically, was seen as a leader in the #metoo movement even though later Transparent’s star Jeffrey Tambor was accused of sexually harassing two trans employees on the set of the show.
In this title, we get a little Hollywood gossip, some insider stuff about how tv works these days, and the deeply selfish and fascinating story of how a person
Jill Elizabeth
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow - I burned through this one in a day! Jill Soloway's book is a combination of memoir, biography of her television/film career, personal manifesto, coming out story, and hollywood insider tale... It covers a LOT of ground, and sometimes that breadth felt a little overwhelming, story-wise, and things skipped around a bit more than makes for easy reading. Still, the writing was easy to engage with and her voice rang crystal-clear throughout and that helped keep me fully present in the story the ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it
As an account of the Amazon show Transparent and a window into building a team based on LGBTQ inclusion, this is a great story. As an account of sexual identity and argument against the patriarchy, it's not so great. Soloway is exuberant in her efforts to explore her sexual identity and rain affection on those around her, but she also comes off as thoughtless and selfish in her relationships. This is an interesting read, but if I were at a party with her, I'd be edging out the door. It's messy a ...more
Lorri Steinbacher
Oct 22, 2018 rated it liked it
There's some interesting stuff in here, but if you were reading it for in-depth analysis you might come away disappointed. I enjoyed the personal aspects of Soloway's story. I'm not even sure that it needed analysis. It could stand on its own as a personal narrative of someone becoming aware of their non-binary identity. This book is at its best when it is describing personal issues and realizations. Soloway's description of falling in love with Eileen Myles is worth reading the whole book.
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I am always late to the party – metaphorically speaking, I mean. I am usually early for everything else because I do not know how to negotiate a late entrance. I feel like at some point in these last few years I fell into a deep sleep from which I remember… well, nothing.

Finding my way back into the real world has been difficult. I keep being reminded that I have missed lifetimes of content and there are stimuli all around, surrounding me, enfolding me, suffocating me. I end up catching glimpse
Alaina Morales
Jan 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
I feel the same about this book as I did about Levy's The Rules Do Not Apply, but I think I liked this memoir less. Soloway seems completely blinded by their privilege and even less self aware than Levy. And maybe I've used up all sympathy for type A fools. And maybe I'm expecting more author as agent and less author as person things happen to.
Jessica Gardner
Nov 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
Wow. Can a book be a career ender? This might be in the running if so. The narcissism, entitlement and bizarre insecurity disguised as bravery is just so insane I actually kept reading cause it was a car wreck in literary form. The bummer of it all is that there are about 3-5 really interesting and revolutionary ideas that they propose about the way a non patriarchiarchal society could look like and they were fantastic. But the rest was a true troll
Sep 09, 2018 added it
I posted a full review on my blog:

Here's an excerpt:
It’s been four short seasons for Transparent; four big years for trans representation and visibility. Since Transparent made history in 2014 as the first TV show with a leading trans character (albeit played by a non-trans actor), its creator Jill Soloway has gone from being an unlikely spokesperson for the trans and queer communities to a member of those communities. In their new memoir She Wants It: De
Stephanie Nelson
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was not what I expected at all! I read the summary before I put in a request so I thought I knew the basics, but in reality I had no clue. I also had no idea who the author was so I thought I could learn a bit about her by reading this; and boy did I learn a lot!
This memoir tells the story of Jill Soloway and her exploration into sexuality. It all starts with a phone call from her father telling her that he is trans. He has a new name that he likes to go by when he is in his comfort z
Elizabeth Madrigal
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
I received this book via First to Read.

This is a deeply honest book written by a deeply flawed individual, one who knows and acknowledges where they have messed up and failed people along the journey of their life. However, I can't help but feel after reading it that they've decided that recognizing an error is enough to make up for it.

There were certain passages that I highlighted because they illuminated experiences I could relate to, and I think that Soloway's writing is best when it's discu
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfic, memoir, feminism
I'm between a 4 and a 5 on this one, but I'm enthusiastically rounding up because of the many layers this book offers. Because of these layers, I think there are so many ways for potential readers to find something of value. I would say this truly is a "must read" for fans of Soloway's show Transparent. It makes me want to binge and more closely study all 4 seasons all over again (AND see Afternoon Delight AND see I Love Dick).

But the book is also insightful about creativity and the creator's pr
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JILL SOLOWAY is the Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning creator of Transparent. Previously, they were a writer and executive producer for Six Feet Under, How to Make It in America, and United States of Tara. Their first feature film, Afternoon Delight, won the 2013 Directing Award at Sundance. They co-created and direct the new Amazon series I Love Dick. Jill lives in Los Angeles.
“I was so mad that because I am a woman it had fallen into my lap to organize the party, and also do everything else that created our children's lives: to buy clothes and make summer plans and babysitter arrangements and school deliverables and sports sign-ups and health forms...I'd never signed up for this role. All of my duties were assumed, no negotiation or divvying up of responsibilities, no questions asked.” 0 likes
“If I were a man I'd be in the top 1 percent of all fathers. As a mother, I was a complete and total failure.” 0 likes
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