Revolutionary (Alex Myers)

Article by liz

How much of your identity do you take for granted? Your mannerisms, your habits, when you choose to speak and when you're silent? Do you ever think about how many of those may be tied to your gender? Alex Myers's powerful debut novel REVOLUTIONARY asks those questions and more by telling the true story of Deborah Samson, a woman who disguises herself as a man and joins the Continental Army in the last years of the Revolutionary War. Life as a man provides Deborah, a former indentured servant, with her very first taste of freedom, and her male identity, Robert Shurtliff, quickly becomes the only one she wants to inhabit. Myers masterfully weaves Deborah's struggle of self into the fabric of the narrative; when she is Deborah, the book uses female pronouns for her thoughts and actions, and when he is Robert he/him/his is used instead. Fear of discovery is a constant presence in the novel, and the minute details of Deborah's gendered disguise provide a few intensely personal moments, such as her reflections on binding her chest or her new awareness of the ways in which she has been socialized to be quieter and less aggressive as a woman.

Deborah's search for belonging takes place against the exquisitely drawn backdrop of colonial New England. Myers's novel is extraordinarily well-researched, giving us a window into the ways in which perceptions of gender have--and haven't--changed since our country's founding. Deborah's later-in-life fight for recognition as a veteran echoes our modern struggle for gender equality, a struggle that Myers fought on the front lines as the first openly transgender student at Harvard, who successfully worked to add gender identity to Harvard's nondiscrimination clause.

Revolutionary Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451663327
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - January 14th, 2014

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