Paperback: 469 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (November 13, 2009)
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How far will a person go because of their hatred. Hatred due to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, is a cancer. Sadly, in this world, it’s often proven that people will go as far as taking the lives of others, simply because of some difference. This story illustrates that in a beautiful manner. The story begins in 1979 in a small Virginia town. A young, soon to be college graduate, named Nicholas Farrington has an affair with a married woman. This relationship results in the birth of a son, Nicholas “Collie” Skinner. 26 years later, a nearby liberal college hires a new professor, Nickie Farrel. Nickie has a secret, one she’d like to keep private but soon gets out. It seems Nickie is a trans-sexual. A billionare has decided to take it upon himself that this school of “perverts” must be destroyed. How far will he go to carry out his hate filled agenda. He’s going to launch a “dirty” bomb within the school.
This book was very touching. I found it very hard to see some of the things Nickie went through. I think it was harder, than some fiction, because in some way, I knew these people. There was Jay-Bo, a hate filled ex cop. Jay-Bo’s oldest son Lloyd goes around beating up what he calls “pansies”, while continuing to have sex with other men. In his mind, it’s okay, because it’s masculine sex, not “sissy” sex. There’s LuAnne Skinner, a compassionate woman, who lives with an abusive man. There is Robin, a strong, Christian woman, who truly seems to follow the biblical principal of love thy neighbor, and don’t judge. There is Cinda, a Lesbian investigate reporter. She takes it upon herself to make life miserable for Professor Farrel. Then there is Collie. Collie is a not so tolerant, 26 year old male. He hates Windfield college, and the people who go there. He’s never had a very happy life, thanks to his “father”/Step-Father Jay-Bo.
There were so many facets in this story. What is it like for a person to feel like they may never find someone to love them, simply because of who they are? How would a person react if they found out one of their parents, was now the opposite gender? Is it right to spill another person’s secrets, just because you feel they need to be open? Self Hatred? Overcoming your own biases?
I think Ms. Woulff did a beautiful job on character development, and on the story line. I could see an event like this happening, especially in post 9/11 America. I truly got involved in the lives of these characters. I wanted some to succeed, others to fail. I wanted Nickie to find someone to love her. I wanted Collie to get to know his “father”. If there were one negative to this book, it would be that I didn’t get to spend enough time seeing Nickie and Collie get to know each other. I liked how Ms. Woulff portrayed a christian character. Robin was not judgemental, at one point she said to the effect, I don’t understand it, but God made this person the way he did, and had a reason.
If you get a chance to pick this up and read it, I’d suggest you do so. It’s so accurate, I felt in it’s portrayal of people, hatred, etc. I hadn’t reviewed books in LGBT fiction prior to this, because having no experience within that particular life, I felt I wasn’t able to judge fairly whether the story was accurate or not. When the chance for this book came along though, I had to read it. In fact I contacted Ms. Woulff to see about getting a copy. I felt it was one story I could relate to, because sadly I know or have known people like Jay-Bo, Lloyd, and Ambassador Douglass. On the bright side, I also know people like Nickie, Collie, and Robin. I look forward to more writing from Ms. Woulff.
About the Author
Iolanthe “Lannie” Woulff was born Nathaniel, the eldest son of author Herman Wouk. Lannie underwent gender transition surgery in 1997. She lives with her spouse Jolene, and is a proud parent. This is her debut novel. See her website at http://www.iolanthewoulff.com/ and become a fan of hers. You can also read the prologue to the book there.
You can discuss it here
I’m adding this review to Cym Lowell’s Book Review Party Wednesday.