In my humble opinion, there are some autobiographies that can best be described as an exercise in self-admiration. Often times, it is these ego-driven pieces that gain much critical acclaim because there is already a built-in awareness of the author and the trials and tribulations they may have encountered on their struggle for success. But what about those truer, less glamorous autobiographies that chronicle the true heroes of the world? What about those unsung luminaries that have paved the way for their more popular counterparts?
In Jer’Ell Hartsig breathtakingly astute autobiography The Wind That Ruffled The Field, a voice is given to a powerful person who not only defied personal limitations, but also created a new life for herself amidst a judgmental society that defined being different as being dangerous.
Hartsig’s tale reads as speculative fiction, but is a true story. Set in Hollywood, the literal land of broken dreams, Hartsig finds herself in a city where anything can happen. Her reasonings for leaving her home town are vast and profound, but ultimately lie upon the governing discernment that she is, in her own words, a “woman trapped in a man’s body”. Being transgender for Hartsig is defining her truth, and is an admirable truth at that.
But in The Wind That Ruffles The Field Hartsig does not focus on this personal identification as the central theme of the book. Nope – she has much more in store for the reader, which makes this autobiography a thrilling read and a very-telling one at that. What transpires as the pages turn is the fact that Hartsig’s relationship with a man who literally sweeps her off her feet but who also has underlying motives was re-imagined by Hollywood and became the blockbuster film “Pretty Woman.” That’s right – ruminate on that for just a moment.
But Hartsig, in her compelling prose, does not present herself as a victim. She is documenting the events that had befallen her, for better or for worse. Instead, she decides to focus on the inherent strength within her to better her situation, and to survive in a world that will essentially rip you apart if you let them. Hartsig does not allow being transgender let her define her very being. In fact, Hartsig fills the reader in on a little secret: being true to yourself is so much more than justifying yourself to the world. It means understanding that honesty and hope is what unites humanity together, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.