Dress Codes by Noelle Howey
Of Three Girlhoods--My Mother's, My Father's, and Mine

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Synopsis

"There's no news like hearing irrefutable proof that you're not the sole cause of your parents' woes, your father's drinking, your unshakable feeling that you're not put together quite right and finding out the problem all along was your father's unrequited yearning for angora." --Noelle Howey from Dress Codes



Throughout her childhood in suburban Ohio, Noelle struggled to gain love and affection from her distant father. In compensating for her father's brusqueness, Noelle idolized her nurturing tomboy mother and her conservative grandma who tried to turn her into "a little lady." At age 14, Noelle's mom told her the family secret straight out: "Dad likes to wear women's clothes."



As Noelle copes with a turbulent adolescence, further confused by the male and female role models she had as a girl, her father begins to metamorphose into the loving parent she had always longed for--only now outfitted in pedal pushers and pink lipstick. Could becoming a woman make her father a completely different person? With edgy humor, courage, and remarkable sensitivity, Noelle Howey challenges all of our beliefs in what constitutes gender and a "normal" family.



 

About Noelle Howey

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Noelle Howey is a freelance editor who has contributed to numerous magazines and web sites, including Ms., Self, Time Out, Mademoiselle, and Mother Jones. She is also the author Dress Codes.Ellen Samuels is an award-winning poet and teacher who lives in Berkeley, California. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Cornell University and has published poetry and articles in numerous literary journals.
 
Published May 2, 2003 by Picador. 364 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Gay & Lesbian, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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By 1990, when Noelle was a college freshman, her amicably divorced parents jointly threw a coming-out party announcing to friends and colleagues that Dick was now Christine, and when Christine flew to Belgium for sex-change surgery in 1994, Noelle accompanied her.

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Star Tribune

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Dinah chooses to tell Noelle about her father's proclivities when Noelle is 15, but the news does not begin to sink in until a bit later, as Noelle watches Dick move toward surgery.

Jun 29 2002 | Read Full Review of Dress Codes: Of Three Girlhoo...

Book Reporter

When Noelle Howey refers to her father as "she," you know immediately that this is no ordinary memoir.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Dress Codes: Of Three Girlhoo...

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