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Catalog Archive / Fall 2023

The Only Way Through Is Out

Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies
David Bergman, Joan Larkin, and Raphael Kadushin, Founding Editors

“With candor and deep vulnerability, Mullen offers a compelling, honest, and hopeful memoir that examines the hidden truths involved in accepting our deepest wants and desires. The Only Way Through Is Out is a lesson to all of us on what great things can happen when we act with authenticity.”
—Jessi Hempel, author of The Family Outing

Is it ever too late for a new beginning? Is it ever too late to live out loud?

Suzette Mullen had been raised to play it safe—and she hated causing others pain. With college and law degrees, a kind and successful husband, two thriving adult sons, and an ocean-view vacation home, she lived a life many people would envy. But beneath the happy facade was a woman who watched her friends walk boldly through their lives and wondered what was holding her back from doing the same.

Digging into her past, Suzette uncovered a deeply buried truth: she’d been in love with her best friend—a woman—for nearly two decades—and still was. Leaning into these “unspeakable” feelings would put Suzette’s identity, relationships, and life of privilege at risk—but taking this leap might be her only chance to feel fully alive. As Suzette opened herself up to new possibilities, an unexpected visit to a new city helped her discover who she was meant to be.

Introspective, bittersweet, and empowering, The Only Way Through Is Out is both a coming-out and coming-of-age story, as well as a call to action for every human who is longing to live authentically but is afraid of the cost.


Suzette Mullen. Photo credit, Ashleigh Taylor. Suzette Mullen is the founder of Your Story Finder nonfiction book coaching and a founding board member of the Lancaster (PA) LGBTQ+ Coalition. Her “tiny love story,” the seed which became this book, was published in the New York Times “Modern Love” column.

Suzette Mullen's Website -




“I could not put this book down. Suzette shows us the search for one’s authentic self has no expiration date and is worth whatever it takes. This book is a glorious tale of tenacious courage that any woman searching for her path in life will love.”
—Jennifer Louden, national bestselling author of Why Bother? Discover the Desire for What’s Next

“In The Only Way Through Is Out, Suzette Mullen reveals how she unearthed her true sexual identity from beneath a mountain of cultural, familial, and internalized heteronormativity. Swimming upstream, she emerges in midlife as the heroine of her own story, and as inspiration to any reader struggling to express their most authentic self.”
—Robin Rinaldi, author of The Wild Oats Project: One Woman’s Midlife Quest for Passion at Any Cost

“An honest and insightful delve into coming out later in life, The Only Way Through Is Out is filled with tears, laughter, and, above all, hope.”
—Lara Lillibridge, author of Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home

“In this courageous memoir, the reader feels keenly both the writer’s anguish and her emerging strength as she chooses between a safe, comfortable path and a leap into the unknown. With raw honesty, Mullen is willing to make herself vulnerable on almost every page of this story of poignant loss and sustaining gain, as she stills the external voices in her world and listens to her own truth.”
—Mary Alice Hostetter, author of Plain: A Memoir of Mennonite Girlhood

“A memoir of discovering one’s sexuality and finding the courage to act, the book has a strong positive message for the many people who come out later in life—the late bloomers, as they are known in the queer community. Such stories are important, and this one is told well and fun to read.”
—Lori Soderlind, author of The Change: My Great American, Postindustrial, Midlife Crisis Tour

“An affecting coming-into-consciousness narrative that burrows into the urgencies of queer awakening and carries its reader through the agonies and ecstasies of living one’s truth. Suzette Mullen masterfully conjures the battling inner voices that prolong the reconciliation of her Christian beliefs with the urgings of her body and heart. A touching, visceral story that celebrates giving into queer joy, no matter how long it takes.”
—Alden Jones, author of The Wanting Was a Wilderness

“Candid, inspirational. . . . An emotive memoir that issues a stirring call to women to choose self-actualization.”
Foreword Reviews

“Mullen is highly relatable and perfectly conveys her story of losing something that was important to her in order to gain something that can never be replaced—getting to know herself.”
Out Front Magazine

“Poignant. . . . This is a book that touches the universal by describing the details, like a good poem.  Reading between the lines, the book offers insights about authenticity, acceptance, and the human capacity for change. . . . A personal and effective memoir of coming out and coming into one’s own, full of the bittersweet experiences which accompany courageous changes in our lives.”
Mother Egg Review

“Whether this memoir makes you feel less alone or helps you understand someone else a little better, it speaks to the importance of amplifying LGBTQ+ stories and their universal lessons about privilege, authenticity, courage, and community.”
SELF (June 2024 Well-Read Book Club pick)

“Narrator Shawna Wolf captures the vulnerability and candor of Suzette Mullen’s inspiring memoir. . . . Wolf’s relaxed demeanor evokes a feeling of listening to a close friend share an honest, intimate account. A hopeful call to action for every person longing to live as their authentic self to take the leap in pursuit of true fulfillment.”
Booklist, praise for the audiobook edition



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Table of Contents

Author’s Note

Part One
The Path
The Unspeakable
The Man I Love
Listen and Lean In
Zone of Privacy
The Real

Part Two
Open Doors
The Talk
Sacred Vows
LaLa Land
Future Stories
Heart Friends
Sticky Wicket

Part Three
The Family
Coming Out
My Power
The Dating Game
The Ledger
Choices and Consequences
The Plagues

Part Four
This Way



Of Related Interest

Plain: cover showing an abstract painting full of rich yellows, oranges, greens, and pastel pinks and blues. The title text is kept in a small white box in the center of the page.

A Memoir of Mennonite Girlhood
Mary Alice Hostetter

Farm Girl: A red-headed woodpecker perches on a lichen-covered branch on the lower left. A red barn in the background peeks over the hill behind long green and gold grass. and long grass.

Farm Girl
A Wisconsin Memoir
Beuna Coburn Carlson

The Only Way Through Is Out: a cream cover that says The Only Way Through Is, followed by a list of words - safe, comfortable, expected- hastily crossed out, finally ending in the all caps word OUT. The words safe through out are written in a rainbow gradiant, the only bit of color on the page.

Larger images

February 2024
250 pp. 5.5 x 8.5

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Cloth $26.95
ISBN 9780299345501
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