Author Janet Mock’s ascent as a media and advocacy powerhouse has been swift since the 2014 release of her first memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. She has gracefully wielded her truth in watershed moments, such as when professional misogynist Piers Morgan misrepresented her identity on live TV or when she warmly discussed her experiences with Oprah on SuperSoul Sunday. Phobias and -isms didn’t stand a chance against her resolve, and her growth is more than palpable in her latest release, Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me.
Her gaze is strikingly different on the cover of the two memoirs. On Redefining Realness, Mock’s expression captures the journey of coming to terms with her multi-hyphenate identity and the great risk of sharing her full truth with the world. On Surpassing Certainty, her gaze is dead-on and any reservations she may have had on her literary voyage have dissipated. Mock is Beyoncé-confident on the cover of this exquisitely packaged gift of her experiences.
While her first memoir concluded with Mock embracing her multihyphenate identity and finding true love with her now-husband, Aaron, Surpassing Certainty gives the winding and often “sloppy” journey that leads up to her emergence as a public figure. This memoir feels more present and relatable, with greater self-awareness and transparency interspersed with girl-next-door anecdotes. She isn’t afraid to get super ordinary in this book, and it pays off.
Mock breaks the shackles that have marked the “trans memoir” genre. She is no longer offering a 101 master class on trans identity, but encouraging us all to find our unique way of being. She doesn’t shy away from discussing her experience as a transgender woman, but it isn’t necessarily the crux of her narrative. For instance, her racial identity (Black and native Hawaiian) takes center stage as she discusses navigating a predominantly white graduate school experience and confronting light-skin privilege and colorism while breaking into the journalism and media industry.