A Five-Star Review That Leaves It’s Own Impressions
A Conservative Christian Woman Reviews Coming Out Can Be Murder
The first professional review of Coming Out Can Be Murder was better than any review I could have imagined. Along with liking the book and recommending it, the reviewer allowed herself to identify with Bobbi, my transsexual heroine, and came away with a deeper, more textured view of transgender people.
Posted on the blog site ‘Literary R & R’ by Charlene, one of the site’s lead reviewers, the review was thought-provoking, even for me.
(The substance of Charlene’s review is below and here is a direct link to the full review: http://literaryrr.blogspot.com/2012/03/charlene-reviews-coming-out-can-be.html.)
Like most first novelists, the fact that Charlene liked my book made me giddy. But it was her comments about where she was coming from (a non-judgmental conservative Christian) and what she came away with that made me glow.
Changing the perceptions of others
When my mentors at Windy City Publishers asked me what I wanted to achieve with this book many, many months ago, I told them how reading John Grisham’s Street Lawyer completely transformed my view of and interaction with street people. Prior to reading this book, I had been one of those painfully conflicted people who felt horribly awkward around the homeless, avoiding eye contact with them, not sure what I should say or do. It was as if they were an alien people with whom I had nothing in common.
After reading Street Lawyer I realized many of these people were war veterans, many were intelligent, many sensitive and observant…that many were people I would like if I knew them. So I made it a policy to establish eye contact with the homeless I encounter, to greet them, and to converse if they seemed willing. My world is better for it.
And that, I told my mentors, is what I most want to accomplish with Coming Out Can Be Murder. That after reading it, men and women of all kinds of social, economic and political backgrounds would feel at ease saying hello to trans people they meet along the way, and to engage in friendly conversation if the opportunity presents itself.
Charlene’s review keeps that dream alive.
Charlene’s review is also a strong reminder to me and to my transgender sisters and brothers that millions of people of faith are open-minded about trans people. Many of us in the GLBT community have come to associate the words “Christian” and “conservative” with anti-GLBT bigotry, but when we paint with such a broad brush, we are exhibiting our own bigotries. So, thanks Charlene—as much for the lesson in humanity as for the great review!
If you are an active reader, you might want to bookmark Literary R&R as a great source for finding new books and authors. When I was screening independent reviewers, I thought this was one of the best review sites, both for the reviewers’ informative, to-the-point styles, and for their wide selection of titles which includes plenty of lesser known authors.
Charlene’s Review (5 out of 5 stars)
Coming Out is a murder-mystery page-turner. I will admit, as a Conservative Christian, this is not a topic I read a lot of. Being that this novel is based around a transgender woman, I cautiously accepted it for review. I am pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it immensely, and humbly admit that I learned a few things along the way. I read it straight through and found myself cheering Bobbi on, especially at the end, as she completely embraces her identity.
This is a story that is a fictional tale of murder, but it is also a look into the lives of those living the transgender lifestyle, with all the prejudice and obstacles involved. I have never been one to judge, at least not overtly, but this really opened my eyes to how society secretly views those we don’t understand. My favorite quote from the book is, “Hate is destructive.” This is the very premise of the book and is explained in painful detail.
James writes with an honest, no-apologies style that grips you. Whether you have prejudices or not, the characters are engaging and believable, with true human emotion. A beautiful sincerity shines through the words and makes you identify with the struggles and horror Bobbi, and her friends, feel at being seen as less-than. The murder really plays a backseat to the identity struggles and, ultimately, to the ability of the human spirit to prevail. Eye opening and haunting, long after the last page. 5 out of 5 stars!