Always Overbooked

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

Sometimes, the smallest things make you hot under the collar.

It doesn’t take much: an idiot on the road, a disrespectful eyeroll, something muttered under someone’s breath and that’s it, you’re torched. Sometimes, conversely, the smallest things can change your bad mood. In “Burn the Page” by Danica Roem, it was an email.

It seemed like Danica Roems was always crying.

To be fair, she had good reason: she was working two jobs and they weren’t enough to pay the bills. Her car was a piece of junk, it was 2016, and her states’ Republican delegates had just filed several anti-LGBTQ bills. For a trans woman like Roem, tears were perfectly appropriate until someone emailed her, asking why she didn’t run for office herself.

Why not? 

So, in preparation, Roem hired a team to do “opposition research” to suss out any past behavior that her homophobic opponent might try to use against her.

Born in the fall of 1984, Roem was three years old when her father committed suicide in their back yard; soon after, her mother’s parents needed care and moved into the Roem household. This, Roem admits, was stressful all around.

Even in fifth grade, Roem knew that she wasn’t a “cis-het straight kid” but since she had no “positive representation of LGBTQ people,” she stayed closeted.  By 13, though, she knew she was trans but didn’t want anybody to know; to help hide it, she participated in sports; fell in love with baseball and heavy metal music; and admired girls, albeit in ways different than did her male peers. Eventually, she made a community for herself.

But when she began to think about maybe having a relationship, Roem soon realized that she had some work to do. She couldn’t expect someone to see her for herself until she did it first.

“I had to commit to being who I was…” she said.

“It was time to transition.”

If you ever need proof of the concept that little things make big differences, you’ll want “Burn the Page.” Same goes if you want to read a memoir that bounces with energy.

Indeed, this book is a bit like taking a small kid into a toy store: they run amok, touching, and examining everything. That’s not unappealing; author Danica Roem careens about, but she always lands on the heart of this book – being honest, open, and authentic– which is likewise what she encourages readers to do. Her passion for this is contagious, and she sweeps readers along with her enthusiasm on other aspects of her life, whether it’s heavy metal music, travel, or politics. Be aware that, because of her excitement over her career and her heavy coverage of it, the latter might slam shut the eyelids of readers who are not politically minded.

On that, this book is like no other political memoir, ever. It’s fun, wildly entertaining, and it aims to mean more than just one woman’s story. For readers who want a good activist tale with a smile, “Burn the Page” is on fire.

“Burn the Page: A True Story of Torching Doubts, Blacing Trails, and Igniting Change” by Danica Roem c.2022, Viking $27.00 320 pages