She Wants It by Jill Soloway

She Wants It

Jill Soloway

This memoir moves with urgent rhythms, wild candor, and razor-edged humor to chart Jill’s evolution from straight, married mother of two to identifying as queer and nonbinary.

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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, sexuality, and the blurring of boundaries through the dynamics of a complicated and profoundly resonant American family, Transparent gave birth to a new cultural consciousness. While working on the show and exploding mainstream ideas about gender, Jill began to erase the lines on their own map, finding their voice as a director, show creator, and activist. 

She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy
moves with urgent rhythms, wild candor, and razor-edged humor to chart Jill’s evolution from straight, married mother of two to identifying as queer and nonbinary. This intense and revelatory metamorphosis challenges the status quo and reflects the shifting power dynamics that continue to shape our collective worldview. With unbridled insight that offers a rare front seat to the inner workings of the #metoo movement and its aftermath, Jill captures the zeitgeist of a generation with thoughtful and revolutionary ideas about gender, inclusion, desire, and consent.

Advance Galley Reviews

I have been looking forward to reading this one for a long time now. Loved the storyline and the tone in which the plot is set. The writing is really great and I hope to read it one more time.

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 and energetic and entertaining. And I learned some interesting things. But it's not the reasoned examination I was hoping for and am still am hoping for. I got a copy to review from First to Read.

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, and their feminist awakening via a crush on a particular UW women’s studies professor who was a “k.d. lang-lookalike.” I couldn’t wait to hear Soloway’s words of wisdom about toppling the patriarchy. From the start, I found the book to be smart, sharp, and witty; Soloway would be someone to go have a drink with, to be sure. I laughed out loud a number of times. I enjoyed reading about Soloway’s kids, their career and the fight to get Transparent made, as well as the journeys Soloway and their parent went through regarding their gender identities. I also appreciated Soloway’s candor and bravery in sharing these stories as well as those concerning their own learning processes. Unfortunately, I was left a bit unfulfilled waiting for Soloway’s inspirational calls to action on fighting the patriarchy. Soloway explains the “Topple Principles” that were created to guide the development of Transparent. These included, “Our revolution must be intersectional,” and “Be brave.” They describe the formation of #TimesUp but with a generous sprinkling of name-droppings. Soloway tackles traditional gender roles and feeling as though they had fallen short of being the good mother, the good wife, the good daughter. These moments of vulnerability are powerful but too few. Soloway carefully confronts the sexual harassment allegations some trans co-stars made against Transparent lead Jeffrey Tambor. While candid about Tambor’s moodiness and downright aggression on set, Soloway relays the sexual harassment situation with an arm’s-length treatment that surprised and disappointed me. The main title, She Wants It, is spot-on as the major theme throughout the book is Soloway’s persistent quest for creative (and commercial) success. But based on the subtitle of the book, I wanted a deeper examination of the patriarchy from Soloway’s perspective as a (albeit white, privileged, and famous) nonbinary queer person in the entertainment industry. While I found the book intriguing as an entertainment memoir, it fell short as a manifesto on toppling the patriarchy. And this is okay – to be fair, Soloway never calls this a manifesto and they have more than enough juicy stories to fill a memoir as a heavy-hitter in Hollywood – but I wanted more. I was left wishing that Soloway had imparted more of their thoughts about how the reader can join the fray against the patriarchy. A quick read, the book is enjoyable overall. I would recommend this book to fans of Transparent or Jill Soloway’s other works; I could see how those who haven’t watched Transparent may not get as much out of the book. It’s also recommended for those who enjoy celebrity memoirs or those who crave reading nonbinary voices.

As an idea, this book has a plenty going for it. A personal story of self discovery, the evolution of a family, the dissolution of a marriage, the creation of a tv show... and plenty of gender identity, feminism, and inclusive groups. But, I couldn't quite connect with this story. I think the problem was that it was trying to tell so much story that the parts compete with each other. It still has an interesting story to tell, an imperfect and flawed journey into understanding others and the self. And, if that's your thing, it's quite star-studded, scattered with all sorts of mentions, as well as an inside look at the tv industry.

This book jumps around frantically and I found it oddly anxiety inducing.

Soloway has an engaging writing style that draws the reader into her story early on. She offers not so much a manifesto as an honest telling of experiences. A good read.

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 liked getting behind-the-scenes insight into “Transparent,” but didn’t really connect with the book. I felt disjointed, and the ending seemed tacked-on.

I utterly love everything I had previously seen or read or heard from Jill Soloway, so after that the first few chapters I was slightly concerned when I hadn't yet connected to the voice of this book. It was only a short while later that I completely bought in, finding myself staying up late and making reading time in parts of my day I never considered before to immerse myself further in this story of growth and exploration. Looking forward to more and more from the voice and vision of Jill.

I requested to read this arc based on the title “She Wants Ot: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy.” I was not familiar with Soloway and had not seen the show Transparent prior to reading this. I thought, based on the title, that the book would be sort of a feminist manifesto on gender identity and privilege. It turned out to be an unorganized look into Soloway’s career and time spent creating and working on Transparent after being inspired by her parent’s coming-out as trans, and later as non-binary. It felt a bit exploitative at times and even insensitive to the issues it was trying to discuss. Soloway briefly mentions not even thinking about hiring a trans actress to play the part of her parent. She seems to brush it off as an oops moment. She then goes on to describe how her and her company have created an organization and culture to promote giving voice to the marginalized. It’s a conflicting and frustrating read.

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 for starters? It’s also different from what I had expected, that is to say, more of a memoir, and not exactly “essays” or more structured writing about feminism, being non-binary, questioning, and so on. As such, while it remained interesting, spoilers notwithstanding, it felt kind of disjointed in places, and at the end, I felt like it hadn’t gone in depth into anything. The last part about Me Too and people coming out about Tambor was also… well, it played straight into the unfortunately usual “she came out about this and now the actor/the show is going to be ruined, we should’ve talked about this among ourselves only and seen where to go from there”. Soloway does acknowledge that it’s wrong, but it still felt like there was much more to say here, and it was brushed over. It’s not on the same level as powerful men paying women they have abused so that they keep silent, but the feeling remains somewhat similar nonetheless, like an afterthought, like something that was mentioned at the end only so that people wouldn’t dwell on it too much. I didn’t like that.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I truly believe the author to be a smart, interesting, and successful individual. However, I felt that this book of her life experiences comes across with a lot of self-boasting and whiney segments when things don’t go according to her preconceived plans. Some sections came across as nearly manic in her writing and descriptions. I found her adherence to Jewish roots, family, and parenting interesting given the directions her life has taken. It is quite apparent that she doesn’t trust her own feelings and this is, for me, the saddest part about the book. It left me feeling lukewarm and for that reason cannot recommend it.

I was excited to get going on reading this book and the first 100 pages or so were pretty good. The writing was funny at times, you could feel the angst of Jill in relation to what was going on with her Dad and her husband, yet there were excerpts that made me laugh. Then the book jumped into going to New York, meeting another woman, I could not remember what happened to Mel and then it seemed to get jumbled and I found myself skimming the pages and reading only what was interesting to me. I did like reading how Transparent was started as it is one of our favorite shows to watch and how everyone came to being on the show. The adding of the trans characters to the show was talked about in the book as was the addition of Cherry Jones to the show. As I read more to the end, I started to understand what Jill was going through as a woman and finding her own sexuality. I was sorry that Jeffrey was let go as that was the whole show to me and it is discussed in the book. I can't wait to see the new season of Transparent and see what Jill adds to the story.

At first I was intrigued with how Jill Soloway got Transparent written and on the air. But I did begin to feel that this tale was self serving- allowing Jill to write a diary that we all could read. Her own struggles with gender and sexual identity were mildly interesting but just didn't interest me - her life is her own and I didn't care how she managed it . Being among the Hollywood elite she didn't struggle with acceptance as many others have as they move through their journeys. It was an easy read and mildly interesting. Can't really recommend it.

I agree with the other reviewers. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. I found Jill's story compelling and wish it didn't have a very Hollywood, self-indulgent aspect to it

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, because I think some of her work (Jill Soloway is a writer, director, and producer of, amongst other things, Transparent) is important to have out in the world. However, the way she got to this groundbreaking show was by utilizing her father's coming out as trans without her permission. While she acknowledges that she didn't know at the time that she shouldn't be doing this, she never quite apologizes for it, as she seems to be ok with using others to get what she wants and needs. This is especially apparent in her early treatment of Jeffrey Tambor's accusers. Here she has subtitled her book Toppling the Patriarchy, yet she participates in minimizing, silencing, and victim blaming. This book is such a lost opportunity, as I feel there are some very quality components of it and some important conversations about gender and gender identity as well as privilege. But it just doesn't get there at all.

The subject matter is what drew me to this book. I want to learn more and understand more because I believe that is how change happens. I am just at the beginning of understanding how gender norms have shaped us into caricatures of our true selves, that we are socialized into this at the cost of discovering/understanding who we are as a unique, individual human being. It was somewhat enlightening witnessing Jill’s journey unfold in these pages. However, there was something that just did not click for me. The pacing felt too fast, and it felt like important aspects of their journey were only skimmed on the surface, when I really wanted a deeper understanding and reflection from them. It may simply have been the structure. It’s something I can’t quite articulate. The book felt pieced together rather than a cohesive whole, and each piece felt like it needed to be slowed down and pulled apart and really looked at so the reader could fully take in what was happening, to feel it, to take the journey along with Jill and to understand the cost and the joy of becoming who you really are which is an incredibly courageous thing to do in a world that tells you the only way to survive is to conform.

2/5 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 discussing broader truths they've learned throughout their life. The messiness happens–as it often does–when trying to apply these truths to the nitty-gritty and everyday and personal. One notable illustration of this is Soloway describing the new and freeing ways to explore gender and queerness when dating femme women, of who is the pursuer and who is pursues, relating it to "this must be how cis hetero men feel"...only to then later try and apply this to the actions of abusive men and explain why they might have been confused. The way Soloway describes first being gung-ho and excited as #MeToo unfolded, even being instrumental in the development of Time's Up, and then quickly shying away and even trying to protect their show over the protection of their abused employees, is the most telling illustration of how something is easy in the abstract but much more difficult when we're faced with the challenge affecting us personally. I'm not sure if it was their intent but watching Soloway struggle to acknowledge and use their privilege for good is a reminder to myself and all readers that we need to work much, much harder and be much, much more ready to be humble if we are truly as dedicated to intersectionality as we say we are. As a final note, for other readers like me who are triggered by relationships between sisters written as pseudo-erotic (think: Lena Dunham) you might want to skip the first chapters in the book where she's describing her relationship with her sister. Even if the reality is a healthy relationship, for somebody like me with a lot of baggage brought to the table it did make me uncomfortable.

She Wants It did not thrill me. I can't put my finger on it: it may be the name dropping or because the Jeffrey Tambor bullying was not addressed. It's a good book and Solway is a good writer. For what it's worth i agree that it is thoughtful and candid.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. It was far from the worst book that I have read, but not exactly the best either. That said, it offers the author's honest perspective into having a parent come out as transgender.

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 entire time. It's a frenetic upside-down tumble through the rabbit hole of a life, with all the attendant highs and lows one would expect to encounter on such a journey. The truths were occasionally difficult - she's very brave, Jill Soloway is, to be so fearlessly revelatory - and often bittersweet, and they made for a fascinating read!

I received a free digital galley of this book from in exchange for an honest review. She Wants It offered an insightful look into Soloway's adjustment to their parent's coming out as trans and then their own discovery of their queer, nonbinary identity. Those portions of the story made for an enlightening, insightful read; Soloway's book is simultaneously compassionate toward their parent, as well as candid and reflective about their own missteps, from taking over a year to go visit their transitioning parent to using that story to sell the TV show. For fans of entertainment memoirs, especially with feminist leanings, there's much to like about She Wants It, and readers who enjoyed Bossypants will probably love this book. Fans of Transparent certainly will (as someone who had never seen the show, I felt like I was missing some important context, but it was still possible to follow what was going on). It offered great insight into the struggle, triumph, and work of "making it" as a TV writer and director. And it's a joyful ode to the growing strength of female and LGBTQIA voices, with several chapters on the impact of #MeToo. However, for all that Soloway devotes time to #MeToo and Time's Up, and although the book's final chapters are candid about Soloway's response to accusations against the actor who played Maura on Transparent (which focused on the fate of the show in ways that Soloway acknowledges were at odds with their commitment to Time's Up), those chapters lack the analysis and reflection on those reactions that I was hoping for. And finding those insights about transness, identity, coming out, and show business requires the reader to endure a hefty dose of what I can only describe as "New Age woo-woo stuff." Soloway describes hiring a shaman to bless the Transparent team at a writer's retreat, and a few chapters later, they describe laying in bed with their girlfriend, having their astrological charts read, and there are several pages of an actual manifesto, titled as such, and it's hard to know how much of this Soloway is taking seriously and how much the reader is meant to take seriously - or how to relate to much of it. But parts of the book were refreshingly relatable - small observations and insights peppered throughout the text that left me pointing at the page and shouting "Yes! This! I've been wanting words for this!" All told, this is a book I'm glad I read, offering perspective we need more of in the world, but it's far from perfect -- then again, Soloway is candid about that from the beginning, and in many ways that's the whole point.

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 zone dressed more femine. The name is Carrie instead of Harry. Jill of course was floored by this revelation and continues on a course of trying to understand her father and his need to be trans, and she does all this through her work as a writer and producer. She ends up making a show called Transparent, which explores a family relationship when they are going through this same thing. Throughout this process and Jill's personal life she finds a lot out about herself and what really makes her happy. I feel like there are some people that would appreciate this book and Jill's exploration, while some would not appreciate some of the sexuality in the book. I liked it because it explored a world that I don't know much about. I also appreciate her brutal honesty about everything, including her own faults. It takes a lot for someone to open up and write a book like this.

Not bad. Quick read

"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 of a story and I would have been more interested to find out the end. I didn't realize Jill Soloway was the writer of Transparent when I found this book. It's something they elude to early on and I hadn't realized how much their life and the show parallel each other. On the one hand I think it's brave to put so much of your personal life out there and I've enjoyed the show but also realizing that Moppa is what Soloway calls their parent and their identity experience being what Alex is going through it sort of felt like they cut and pasted their life into the show which does sort of change how I see it. There also seems to be two distinct stories happening in this book. One is about Soloway's personal experience in their marriage and gender identity and professional life and one specifically about Transparent. I was a little disappointed that the harassment by Tambor is barely addressed and given that he was only recently dropped from the show and the latest season hasn't been released I would have thought writing a book once that reason is out or the show is resolved would make more sense. Similarly for Soloway's personal experience - I think it's great that they're exploring their identity and I recognize that gender is fluid and there's no "final product" because we're human but to me it sort of came off as someone who is just starting out on their journey and figuring things out along the way (which makes sense, everyone starts somewhere and Soloway even says they struggle with prounouns at times because they're still learning who they are) but I imagine a book somewhere down the road when they've had more experience and insight would have been more thoughtful and would have more to share about navigating gender identity and that would intrigue me more. The concept of toppling the patriarchy drew me into this title and while Soloway is clearly anti-patriarchy and has done a lot for women the manifestos caught me off guard. I had never seen the manifesto shared on Twitter before which made me think either the movement wasn't as big as Soloway thought or it just didn't make the rounds to my network, so it left me a little confused about its role in the context of the book. Soloway is vulnerable in this book and shares a lot of what is important to them both personally and professionally - that is impressive. This book didn't resonate a lot with me personally but I'll continue to enjoy the show.


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