At a time when our society is facing changes—for better and worse—sharing our experiences is more important than ever before. This is particularly true for those individuals and communities whose voices have been diminished or silenced in the past.

A person sharing their story has the potential to not only engage with others, but to also broaden scopes of knowledge and understanding. This is certainly the case with Cadance Bell’s memoir The All of It: A Bogan Rhapsody.

Seven years ago, Ben was loveless, overweight, in debt, and living in his parents’ rumpus room, trying to find a way to quietly die. Then, one day, Ben decided not to die. He decided to change everything—starting with the Ben bit. Becoming Cadance would be more than a gender transition: it would be a transition in every way.

Described as “a wild coming-of-gender memoir like no other,” A Bogan Rhapsody captures Cadance Bell’s journey throughout many stages and moments of her life. The memoir tackles key themes such as growing up in Mudgee in the 1990’s, family dynamics, experiences with addiction, violence, gender dysphoria, kindness, and acceptance.

Bell’s memoir is truly an experience. She manages to take the reader on a dual journey: hers, and their own. It was confronting, tragic, humourous, captivating, and hopeful all at the same time. A feat which is not always achievable, and is a huge testament to Bell’s storytelling ability.

As a speed reader, I had to tell myself to read this book slowly in order to properly experience it, and I am very glad that I did so. A Bogan Rhapsody is one of those rare books that must be consumed slowly in order to both understand and appreciate what is occurring throughout its pages.

It is a book for everyone, whether they are going through a similar journey, or experience, as Cadance or not. It emphasises that we should be kind to others, as we really do not know what others are going through. There are so many elements within the book that the reader might relate to no matter their beliefs, identities, or feelings. Cadance’s story is life changing: not only for her, but also for the reader. It truly is one of those books that will allow every person who reads it to be able to take something away from it.

All-in-all, The All of It: A Bogan Rhapsody is an unmissable read, and I am telling, not recommending, telling you to read this book. I promise you will not regret it.

Thank you to Penguin for allowing Opus to take a sneak peek at Cadance’s memoir. The All of It: A Bogan Rhapsody is now available for your reading, and listening pleasure from Penguin Random House.

Phoebe Barsi

Phoebe Barsi

Hi, I’m Phoebe and I’m a contributor and columnist for Opus! I like writing about the creative arts with a focus on anything book related. When I’m not studying, writing, or procrastinating, you’ll find me either reading, plotting, talking, or thinking about books!