The Boundaries of Personhood
In Tomboyland, Melissa Faliveno ’06 questions the meaning of queerness and class.
Released in August, Tomboyland: Essays by Melissa Faliveno ’06 of Brooklyn, New York, shares a personal narrative while taking an intricate look at identity. Opening with a scene from June 1984, when an F5 tornado tragically tore through Barneveld, Wisconsin — just miles away from Mount Horeb, where the author grew up — Faliveno delves into the ways her Midwest upbringing shaped and complicated her self-image. She ponders how where we are raised defines us — even long after we’ve left — and questions the meaning of girlhood, womanhood, queerness, and class.
Tomboyland is a publication of Topple Books, Amazon Publishing’s imprint with Joey Soloway ’87. Soloway, who is the creator of the television series Transparent, writes in the book’s introduction, “Melissa explores the boundaries of land, safety, intimacy, and personhood, asking who we might all choose to be if we knew we’d be received with love and acceptance. This is a book for those among us who can’t be defined and those who don’t want to be.”
In June, Tomboyland was included in Oprah Magazine’s list of LGBTQ books that are “changing the literary landscape” this year, and it also appeared in Esquire. Publishers Weekly called it a “winning debut collection” while Kirkus Reviews said the book is “an expressive voice evolving deliberately, resisting having to be one thing or the other.”
Published in the Fall 2020 issue