Cover Image: The Family Outing

The Family Outing

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Member Reviews

Non fiction/memoirs are generally hard for me to get into, but this was such an important read that I needed it.

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I loved the author’s writing and how she took the reader on the vulnerable journey of her family. As you read, you can’t help but reflect on yourself and your own family. While her story is quite unique, I still felt connected to it in a deep way. I highly recommend this book.

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I heard a podcast interview with Jessi Hempel and knew I had to read this book, so I was thrilled to see if on netgalley. The chain of family member after family member coming out and learning to accept themselves was fascinating, and reading that in parallel with the mom's story of "coming out" about what she had experienced in the past illuminated the ways shame and secrecy (for any reason) can impact people. The book is really well written and very enjoyable to read. I have recommended this to many friends! This one has more than earned a permanent place on my (physical) bookshelf.

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This book is for anyone who thinks their family is kind of different--Ms.Hempel's family has you beat. Without giving too much away this family has been through the wringer, but has come out strong and whole on the other side. One of the settings is the next town over from me in Massachusetts and her brother went to the same summer camp that my son attended--just a few years after; How her family came to the realizations that they did and adapted to each other is a fascinating one. I only hope that if presented with the husband and kids that her mom was, that I could handle everything as well she did and could be as supportive. An interesting retelling of an interesting story.

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This book was a little underwhelming, but you can't help but root for the ridiculousness of each family member. A second round purchase for most libraries

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This is a story about every member of Jessi Hempel’s immediate family coming out within the span of five years, four of those five (Jessi, her siblings, and her dad) discovering and sharing aspects of their sexuality, and the fifth (her mom) coming to understand new things about trauma she experienced as a young person.

But, more than that, it’s about where her family came from, how it fell apart in various ways over the years, and how it has slowly been repaired and strengthened.

Hempel writes about her siblings and parents carefully and lovingly, even when she’s describing periods of conflict, misunderstanding, pain, or lack of contact. She conducted extensive interviews with all of them as part of The Project (how she refers to it) of writing this book, and it shows. Even when I didn’t understand or agree with certain of the family members’ decisions or actions, I felt for them deeply and ached for them to find themselves and each other again.

The best part of this complex and layered family tale is the hopeful ending. Everyone is in a good place by the last page, continuing to figure their own lives out and staying in touch to love and support each other. This family is not perfect, as of course no family is, but they’ve lived through a lot and come out better for it on the other side. I left the reading experience cheering for them and inspired to improve my relationships with some of my own relatives and loved ones.

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What a compelling premise, and the delivery was excellent too—I was gripped from start to finish, waiting for these intersecting stories to unfold.

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I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Wonderful book. Loved the characters, really felt for the mom. What a story!

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An engaging, affecting memoir about one extremely complicated, extremely queer family: this was an extraordinarily compassionate account of the author's upbringing and relationship with her family throughout her life, which tells pieces of her parents' and siblings' stories along the way.

The book centers around queerness, and the idea of "coming out;" something which the author, both her siblings, and her father do. (Her mother, as we learn, struggles with a different kind of secret, but one which is no less damaging to hide.) The writing is really engaging – the author uses the present tense consistently throughout, a choice which pulls the reader into each "episode" of her past really effectively. The stories told, too, are captivating, even when they feel "ordinary" or "domestic." And Hempel treats each of her family members with wonderful grace and compassion, even as she balances other emotions that she has felt toward each of them. My one qualm with the book was that the pacing felt occasionally strange and lopsided – some topics and events felt glossed over, while others seemed drawn-out unnecessarily. I wouldn't be surprised if some of this is due to what stories really belong to the author versus her siblings and parents, but I wish that it had been paced and structured just a little differently!

All in all, this was a great read, and I'd definitely recommend it for fans of queer memoir. Thanks so much to Netgalley and HarperOne for the advance copy!

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I thought this book was wonderful and unique. It was hard to remember at times that it was a memoir because it was not the usual story you hear. The book was almost unbelievable at times with different family members coming out at the same time. What a clever and fitting title. I thought the cover was beautiful and I am looking forward to recommending this to others.

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The Family Outing, by Jessi Hempel, is an intimate memoir about family secrets and overcoming trauma on the path to self-actualization.

Hempel’s journalistic approach to this project is unique. As the author, her family’s story is unavoidably skewed toward her point of view, but she is careful to include the perspectives of her parents and siblings throughout. All five family members agreed to the project and actively participated in interviews.

The “outing” in the title refers to how each and every family member outed their secrets. Not just secrets they kept from each other, but the secrets they kept from themselves. For Jessi, her father, and her siblings, identifying as queer was only part of their long and winding process of self-actualization.

Even when detailing their worst moments, Hempel treats her family with love and respect. Both her mother and father failed to parent their kids. And while Hempel doesn’t shy away from sharing the damage this caused, she also speaks of her parents with empathy. Looking back, with the knowledge she has today, she knows how emotionally broken her parents were. She recognizes the scars they carried from their own childhoods.

The emotional pull of this memoir is intense. My heart broke for Jessi and her siblings, neglected by their parents and coping in their own unique ways. But there is hope, too. The reader is aware from the start that this story will have a positive ending, despite the setbacks.

It doesn’t feel right to say that I “enjoyed” this very personal and sometimes painful story of the Hempel family. But I was engaged throughout, and I wish Jessi, her parents, and her siblings the peace and joy they have worked so hard to attain.

Thank you to HarperOne and NetGalley for the gift of this digital ARC.

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The Family Outing is a thought-provoking read about being human, no matter how your identify. Jessi Hempel writes about her family life before and after her father came out as a gay man. Jessi was the teenager who caused the family stress in their home where she lived with her father, a successful lawyer, her mother, a music teacher, and her two siblings. When the teenagers discover their father's secret, the family unwinds and grows. The Family Outing is a honest memoir about emotion and acceptance in the messiness known as family.

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Such a fun and heartwarming read. I really enjoyed the writing style and the overall plot. The characters were very real and authentic. Enjoyed this a lot!

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This memoir is broken into 4 parts and is a story of coming out involving a dad who is gay, sister who is bisexual, brother who is transgender and the author who is a lesbian. This book is told entirely from the perspective of one person in the family’s lived experiences and I really enjoyed it as every perspective is valid. I really loved and appreciated that the author did not deadname her brother Evan. This is a beautiful memoir involving change and growth. I listened to it on audio while following along on my kindle and y’all know I love a memoir narrated by the author. I loved the conclusion and really loved that the author acknowledged that this story is only from her perspective and that it would be different if it were written by anyone else in the family. Everyone’s story and perspective matters. Definitely recommend.

💫Thank you to @netgalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review

⚠️TW: disordered eating, sexual abuse, serial killer

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When I started this book, I felt a strange familiarity: a mother whose depression overloads and accuses the narrator of being "bad" when really she is a kind of scapegoat, a father who is not present and a marriage that is falling apart, announcing you are gay and having your father say nothing while your mother muses about wanting grandchildren in an unhelpful way, wanting out so badly it hurts.

Of course, it could only be familiar for so long, and when it was unfamiliar, it was still strong--at least in the beginning.

The strongest parts of the book for me were the ones in which Hempel went way back into her history and described her parents' youth. Her mother's brush with a serial killer was interesting for obvious reasons, and the retelling of a highly religious upbringing was compelling too--neither of these experiences were anything like my own family's, and Hempel was able to retell them in an almost novelistic way.

I think that's why the later half of the book wasn't as strong for me as the start of the book was. Hempel went decidedly inward when we got into the chapters where she played a larger role, and I think an editor could have helped her pull back a great deal, especially when we get the larger narratives on the cultish / MLMish WorldWorks that seemed to devour and disrupt her relationship with her sister.

I appreciated the scenes rather than the summaries, I think. There were places where Hempel wrote more about something than into it, and I found myself wanting to nudge the story along. The story itself is good and important--her brother transitioned and had a baby long before we began talking about bathrooms at the high school where I teach (or at least, long before anyone was out enough to need that conversation to be had) and now the middle school has gender neutral bathrooms (because of my own kiddo). I loved learning about her step-father, who seemed to embrace all of life, and could imagine the home he built with her father. I loved the passages where we went to a Buddhist retreat for her brother's wedding and the author's wife accidentally texted copies of embarrassing photos to the wrong people. These scenes were done so well, as is most of the book.

Jessi Hempel handled this project with grace and acceptance. She expressed her own take on things, but she also shared her sibling's wishes. For instance, the brother never wanted to be mispronouned or misnamed throughout the book, even when he presented as otherwise. I had a good talk with my oldest about it, as they show up in my own memoiristic pieces, and they have a different attitude: "I was X then, and I am X now. You'll write about how I transitioned." Point being: Hempel respected Evan's wishes, just as any good memoirist should. Hempel acknowledged that this was her story, but it was also all five of their stories, and there are parts of it she tells where she also nods to how she got information when she wasn't there; I love when authors pull back the curtain a little bit.

I'm glad Hempel is here doing her work, and I am glad her family agreed to let this story be told.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the preview copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you for the Advance Review Copy (digital) of The Family Outing by Jessi Hempel. The title is very clever and memoir is definitely my jame. I will recommend this book to readers looking for lgbtq memoir or just general family focused memoir as well.

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** spoiler alert ** *Thank you to Net Galley for the advance copy of this book.

I actually forgot this was a memoir—until I double-checked, I had started reading and thinking, "Wow, this is a really deep and realistic family." I can't even begin to explain how well-written this memoir is. As someone who comes from a complicated family, it was refreshing to read about someone else's complicated family. And yes, I know a lot of people say that their family is messy or tricky or hard, but I'm not talking about the people who use those words like a bandage, because they can't possibly comprehend your family situation.

I loved learning about each of the members of Jessi's family—their individual struggles and how they affected the collective whole. I loved moving through their journeys (albeit through her eyes solely) and the amount of growth, hardship, love, change, and more that they all experience. As someone who has moved far away from home and back, I also appreciated how much the characters moved across the U.S. and traveled outside of it, which I don't often see represented while reading unless it's some cheesy romance novel set in a different country or when someone is on a vacation (lol).

I could not put this memoir done. I loved every second of it. It may be the first memoir (maybe even the first non-fiction book?) I've ever given five stars, too, because I don't read them that often nor find them to be as "can't put this down!" as this one. For anyone who has a unique family structure or experience, this one is for you. I highly recommend "The Family Outing" by Jessi Hempel.

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Jessi Hempel does an amazing job telling the story of her family and how each of them discovered their true selves. Each person in the family dealt with coming out of the closet either as a lesbian, bisexual, transgender man, a gay man, or a woman struggling with the guilt and trauma of falling for a dangerous man. When you hear someone talk about their coming out story, immediately the idea of a person revealing their sexuality comes to mind. The most important lesson this book left me with is that everyone is struggling with coming out, whether you are gay or straight. Because the true idea of coming out is listening to your soul and doing the work for self actualization and living life as your truest self. This book was truly inspiring and a book I think everyone should read.

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I throughly enjoyed this novel. In fact, it’s one of the few lately that has held my attention throughout the entire story. While I could see a few things coming, I never felt like rushing though it. I would definitely recommend it to friends.

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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book. I really enjoyed this memoir of a family who came out (literally) the other side of falling apart to end up as a stronger unit. I like how the author attempted to weave narrative from the perspective of her other family members, and her acknowledgement that no story ever has just one perspective. I also appreciated how sensitively she treated her family's unique expressions of queerness, particularly her trans brother.

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