A return author to my shelves! This is a long overdue review (my apologies to the author!) but I felt like every time I sat down to write something about it, I couldn’t quite find the words. I was first introduced to Campbell as an author through Story Plant, the publisher she’s worked with. A few years ago, I got books from them to review and hers came up on my list, and I enjoyed CROSSING THE STREET a great deal.
When I saw her name again on NetGalley and saw what the book was about, I knew I had to see about reading it.
First off, the concept is fascinating. A woman and her daughter are going to live in solitude for a year, to cope with the loss of the second parent in the house. Second, the end of that sentence: this is a story about two women and the daughter they raised. From word one, I could only imagine Tommy’s life from the perspective of a young man I know, raised also by two women. I know his mothers very well, and I could see aspects of their life–or what their life must be–in the stories we hear of Meg and Sam. It may be a hook specifically to me, but it was there.
Then we have the rest of the cast of characters. The grumpy neighbor, the eccentric young woman with A Past, the best friend, the uncle, his girlfriend… My god, the list goes on. The title is apt, and the emotions are overwhelming. Seeing the deft hand Campbell has with all the issues she tackles–gay/lesbian relationships, physical deformities, social differences, transgender issues, the list goes on–is absolutely brilliant. Being on the trans* spectrum myself, it was wonderful to see how it was handled–or not, as the case may be. These are all just people, living their lives, and trying to make it one day at a time. All the labels the world may affix to them are all superfluous. And I wish more books were like that.
It does what I wasn’t sure a book could do: makes the identities of the characters a focal point….without making it the center of attention. Meg and Sam’s relationship is pivotal to all this, but it’s not there to be The Lesbian Pair. That kind of thing. And through it all, it is heartwarming and real and honest and vicious and true to life. Even though I read the book months ago I can still remember pieces of it, still remember the characters. And that’s the sign of a strong story.
Molly D. Campbell was, is, and continues to be an author to pay attention to. I’m eager for her next book to brush my shelves.
Rating: **** (Recommended)