Book review: A Dream of a Woman

A Dream of a Woman by Casey Plett

From Goodreads

Centering transgender women seeking stable, adult lives, A Dream of a Woman finds quiet truths in prairie high-rises and New York warehouses, and in freezing Canadian winters and drizzly Oregon days.

In “Hazel and Christopher,” two childhood friends reconnect as adults after one of them has transitioned. In “Perfect Places,” a woman grapples with undesirability as she navigates fetish play with a man. In “Couldn’t Hear You Talk Anymore,” the narrator reflects on past trauma and what might have been as she recalls tender moments with another trans woman.

An ethereal meditation on partnership, sex, addiction, romance, groundedness, and love, the stories in A Dream of a Woman buzz with quiet intensity and the intimate complexities of being human.


Overall, I really enjoyed this collection! I thought most of the stories were really strong, and I enjoyed reading them. Plett’s writing is really great; it’s very simple and easy-to-read, while still conveying a ton of emotion.

One of the strongest parts of this book, in my opinion, is that Plett does a great job of not demonizing certain things. Almost all the main characters are alcoholics, and they’re not villainized for it. Most of the narrators are sex workers, which is portrayed as an okay thing to be. It was just such a great portrayal of regular people, if that makes sense.

I also really enjoyed how these stories weren’t extreme; I find that sometimes, trans-centric stories are either “being trans is terrible and you will die” or “being trans is the best and it’s all sunshine and rainbows”. These stories really just portray being trans as a thing — the characters are trans, it is what it is, life sucks but it goes on, life is good but it goes on. I found it a really honest depiction of life in general/ The stories were hopeful without being overly saccharine; they depict trans trauma without making it a spectacle. Bad things happen to the characters, but no more than any other person. I hope this makes sense, but it really like humanized the characters in a way that I think a lot of other stories don’t.

One of the stories, Obsolution, is interwoven with the other stories, so there will be a few pages, another story, another part of Obsolution. Plett said on Goodreads that she envisioned Obsolution as “being in conversation with the other stories”, and I think it really does that. I liked being able to take a break from the characters and come back to them at a later time, both for me as a reader and them as characters. It was overall my favourite story, and I think a great exploration of the path a lot of people take on their gender journey. It also did a fantastic job at describing the nuance and intricacies of tricky relationships.

I also did little mini reviews of each story as I read them, so here those are:

  • Hazel and Christopher: 5 stars; this was a super strong start to the collection, and I’m very excited to see where the rest of the collection goes.
  • Obsolution: I believe this will continue, but the first part was 5 stars. I loved how David discussed his gender and his struggles with his relationship, and I’m very interested to see where it goes.
  • Perfect Places: 4 stars; I really enjoyed this and thought Nicole was a great main character. I like that her lover and his kinks were portrayed in a positive light, and Nicole didn’t judge him for his kinks.
  • Obsolution: okay I was right, it does continue. This part also gets 5 stars. I just want to tell David it’s okay and he doesn’t have to fit into one box .
  • Couldn’t Hear You Talk Anymore: 4 stars; I quite enjoyed this story! I think Plett does a great job describing adulthood and a lot of the complicated feelings that come with adulthood.
  • Obsolution: 4 stars; I really enjoyed this part as well. I liked seeing David come into herself and be more comfortable in her new life. Her relationship with Iris continues to be interesting.
  • Couldn’t Hear You Talk Anymore: 3 stars; I really enjoyed this part, but at the same time thought it was just Okay. I ultimately have no lasting thoughts about this one.
  • Obsolution: 5 stars; I really enjoyed this part. I loved seeing Vera come a bit more into herself and figure things out between her and Iris.
  • Rose City, City of Roses: 4 stars; I enjoyed this one! I thought Plett did a great job describing grief and complicated feelings. I liked that we got to see a bit more of Nicole as well. Her description of loneliness was really poignant and accurate.
  • Obsolution: 4 stars; I enjoyed this last part, though it was probably my least favourite of the sections. I liked seeing Vera grow up, her reflections on her younger self and her anger, and how her relationships turned out. Overall, I really enjoyed following Vera’s journey and thought it was really great.
  • Enough Trouble: 4 stars; I really really enjoyed this story. I loved all the characters, and they all felt super realistic. This was a fairly long story, but it read very quickly.
  • Floodway: 3.5 stars; this one was fine. Really well written but ultimately not something I’ll remember (in my book club, four days after I read this story, none of us could remember what this story was about so my review was accurate).

So overall, I really recommend this collection! If you’re looking for a collection of trans stories by a trans author, especially one without trauma porn, I’d highly recommend this.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you have any recommendations for trans authors? Let me know!

Ally xx

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3 thoughts on “Book review: A Dream of a Woman

  1. This sounds like a neat collection. I do really appreciate it when I find stories of trans people just living their lives—stories where their being trans isn’t the plot. I hadn’t heard of this collection before, though. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

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