Author: Zach Wahls
Publisher: Gotham; 1 edition (April 26, 2012)
Genre: Personal account.
Setting: Iowa, USA
Narrative: First person.
Hardcover: 256 pages
Book Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1 inches
On the fateful day of January 31, 2011, Zacharia Wahls, then the 19-year-old lanky teenager, addressed the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in a public hearing on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Iowa. The 2-minute speech went viral online and was millions of times within days. Hence began the journey of a lanky teenager to a man.
Zach Wahls, born July 15, 1991, is the son of a lesbian couple Terry Wahls and Jackie Reger. Elder amongst the two siblings, Zach is presently an LGTB activist. The book ‘My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family’ is actually the outcome of the ‘Most watched political video of 2011’. An extension to his dramatic 2-minute speech and the dozen interviews that followed, the 256 page-journey takes us through the ups and down of a family. This family is no different than any other, besides the small fact that it has two mothers and no father. And in all honesty, the writer never lets the reader realize this fact. There flow of emotions and circumstances is so swift and natural that the reader connects with them instantly. Such books are generally branded ‘superficial’ and ‘carefully-calculated’, but the narrative is so simple and the situations so genuinely relatable that not for a moment are the authenticity of the motive or the bigger picture questioned.
The story begins by describing the lives and situations of Terry Wahls and Jackie Reger, and the problems they had to put up with, even before meeting each other. The argument of same-sex marriage is woven into the personal accounts so beautifully that one cannot help but think, question and themselves the concept of gay marriage and the validity of law. Instances like bullying at school, imparting moral values at dinner, completion of homework etc. bring a faint smile because the whole situation is described so naturally and openly. For a first-timer, the writing style is casual, relaxed and very frank which helps in striking the right chord with the reader. The book has chapters titled according to the virtues and qualities of Boy Scout law: Obedient, Trustworthy, Kind etc and every now then, a huge dose of morals, which young Zach was taught, are explained at length. Some like, ‘Running from the truth leaves it chasing you’ hold special significance. But ultimately, the book serves the purpose it was written for: breaking the stereotypes and asking ourselves the validity and boundaries of law on same-sex marriage. All in all, the book makes for a heartwarming experience and teaches us the importance of family, however clichéd it may seem. It may look like that it’s trying to sell same-sex marriage and present a one-sided argument, but, any clever reader will be able to see past that. And that is the victory of Zach Wahls. As an activist. As a son.