By the time Jessi Hempel reached adulthood, everyone in her family had come out, starting a chain reaction of revelations that made them all question their place in the world in new and liberating ways.
... magnetic ... [Hempel] revisits these experiences with her family by conducting virtual conversations during the pandemic referred to as 'The Project,' which she incorporates into the book by giving her family space in their own story, adding a unique, insightful layer to this memoir. Hempel’s writing is evocative and approachable. It will appeal broadly to fans of literary memoir and will hold particular significance for LGBTQIA+ readers and anyone on their own journey to live as their true selves ... A stunning memoir and contemporary exploration of the diversity of family dynamics and coming-out narratives.
... as early as third grade, writing became [Hempel's] refuge and she decided she would become a writer. As this skillfully wrought book evidences, that decision has served her well. Bringing each family member alive on the page and bringing her own story up to date, the author wisely concludes that the work of transformation is never done. And so, her story continues.
... a full-hearted if overdetermined attempt to filter the stories of five individuals through the ready-made sieve of memoir and its subgenre, the coming-out story ... The book is so sweeping in scope that one could easily imagine a memoir by each of its main characters...But The Family Outing doesn’t quite feel like an ensemble narrative; here, the threads of family history are braided into one by Hempel alone, whose tenure as an accomplished technology and social media journalist lends the book a certain reportorial sensibility ... follows many of the dictates of coming-out narratives: Repression is followed by redemption, confession by understanding. But this family’s journey, as is often the case, is more compelling and diffuse than such a framework allows for.