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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Paralian by Liam Klenk is a very long story. Too long? Only if you're an impatient reader. Liam Klenk has so much to share in this fascinating memoir that, despite its length, those readers with a thirst for knowledge and inquisitive, intelligent minds much like the author's will be utterly riveted. Even when you think you just can't read another page, you find yourself turning it to see what more can you learn from Paralian, a book with an unusual name and an intriguing subtitle: "Not just transgender."
You see, Paralian is not just about a female who transitions to male in her young adult years. While that's a key part to understanding the protagonist's restless disposition and endless search for self, that search takes Liam and readers into the heart and soul of countries in a way they are never depicted in travel brochures. Be prepared for a surprise, for instance, at what you might witness in a public park in Zurich in comparison to a park in North America.
The Paralian, born Stephanie and adopted by a neurotic mother and gay father, eventually locates her birth mother and a sister she didn't know she had, only to be rejected by both later. As a new male, he falls in love more than once, marries twice for convenience, once his father's and once his own. Gifted with a brilliant mind and a need to prove his worthiness mostly to himself, Liam embraces one challenge after another: he becomes a photographer, an artist, a theater and events co-ordinator, and much later, despite an innate fear of, but love for water, especially the ocean, he masters the sport of scuba diving. His travels take us around Germany, Switzerland, Malta, Macau, Hong Kong and the US. His observations and reflections on each country and culture, many very detailed, along with his struggles to understand himself as a transgendered person trying to fit into society, are what make Paralian such a long, often intensive read.
This is not a memoir for the squeamish. Details are raw, vivid, honest. Nor, as mentioned above, is it a read for the impatient or someone looking for quick entertainment. Paralian is for those who enjoy learning something new when they read and who like finding themselves still thinking about what they have read long after they finish the book. If that sounds like you, read Paralian by Liam Klenk.