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The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

‘Pageboy: A Memoir’ Muddles an Eye-Opening Story with Poor Grammar

“Pageboy,” a coming-of-age memoir released in June 2023 by transgender Academy-Award nominated actor Elliot Page, intricately follows the actor’s tumultuous journey of discovering his personal identity while in the film industry. However, Page’s disorderly writing may hinder readers from fully grasping the depth of his message.

Elliot Page, transgender Academy-Award nominated actor, released “Pageboy” in June. A coming-of-age memoir, it recounts his experience initially coming out as a lesbian in 2014 and as a transgender man in 2020. This New York Times bestseller not only underscores the prejudice against L.G.B.T.Q. individuals within the film industry, but also Page’s internalized homophobia as he grappled with his identity. 

Pageboy: A Memoir
“Pageboy: A Memoir,” released by Elliot Page in June 2023 (Credit: Barnes & Noble).

One of the themes “Pageboy” details is the persisting isolation Page has felt throughout his life. As a child of divorce, young Page resented the time he spent at his father’s house due to his verbally abusive stepfamily. They shunned Page as a child, as did many of his peers during his adolescence. Additionally, Page’s “tomboyish” tendencies perpetuated an emotional disconnection with classmates and continued to harm his career once entering the film industry.

This raw, candid account of growing up as a queer person in various unfriendly environments is undoubtedly inspiring, and, despite backlash from numerous communities and individuals, Page concludes the memoir by accepting his identity. 

“L.G.B.T.Q. representation … shows that L.G.B.T.Q. people are human and not just some stereotypes,” senior Ella Pourmoradi said. “If younger generations are shown a different story, then they’ll… learn that it’s not necessary to fear or [hate] L.G.B.T.Q. people.” 

One could argue, however, that the disorganized chronology muddled the reader’s understanding of Page’s growth. The memoir’s prologue begins with Page’s first time kissing a woman at 20 years old, a few months before “Juno,” his first big hit, premiered. While this short scene carefully encapsulates many of the book’s central issues, such as overcoming internalized homophobia and the ever-present authoritarianism of the film industry, it is the first of many disorderly events. The memoir then proceeds to fluctuate between his childhood, his experiences with different movies, adolescence, and adulthood—all without a clear pattern. This chronology complicates the reader’s perception of Page’s romantic interests and path to fame, as well as the personal growth throughout his life. 

Ultimately, the ups and downs in Page’s journey to acceptance cannot be easily tracked. In Chapter 19, he asks his mother to buy more feminine clothing. In this part of the memoir, he abandons his identity and adopts traditionally female clothes to receive affection from his mother. The fact that Page does not mention this severe repression of identity until past the halfway point, with little indication of his age, is a hindrance to the reader and their comprehension of the work. 

Page writes, “None of this was Scott’s fault, he was a kid too.” Referring to his abusive stepbrother, this is one of many emotionally raw and hard-hitting lines that grammatical errors have maimed. Various forms of punctuation, including a period or semicolon, can separate independent clauses, but a comma cannot. Is that not what students at North High learn in ninth grade? Is that not what any adult would at least raise an eyebrow to? The frequency of these errors have gone far beyond the point of carelessness: comma splices adorn nearly every page and truly distract the reader. Consequently, effective and even poetic lines are lost.

“I think it’s pretty important if a piece of writing has poor grammar,” sophomore Greg Lyakhov said in reference to Page’s memoir. “It could prevent the reader from understanding the work and lead them to question the credibility of the writer.” 

Despite the inconsistent chronology and deplorable grammar, however, many audiences can benefit from reading Page’s moving tale. In addition to detailing the homophobia and transphobia he experiences and illuminating a new perspective on the film industry, “Pageboy” offers a substantial message of acceptance. Regardless of their sexuality or gender, audiences will learn to embrace their identity. 

“This memoir sounds very fascinating,” junior Ori Geula said. “I don’t care too much about grammar, and I’m interested in how [Page] discusses his insecurity while still writing a motivational story.”

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About the Contributor
Jolie Nassi, Managing Editor
Jolie Nassi is one of Guide Post’s managing editors. Her writing can be found in the New York Times, Guide Post, and the wall of CS’s backroom. In addition to writing, her other hobbies include reading, researching historical events, and drinking prolific amounts of bubble tea with her friends. She is also an officer for several clubs at North High, such as Model U.N. and Mock Trial. Jolie is a passionate grammarian, dedicated CSer, and aspiring English major.

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