In Our Midst
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Stanton, Indiana, in 1990, is a town in which people love their kids, joke with their mayor, attend church, and support the Wood Carving Festival. But, one boy is growing up with a secret that he unknowingly shares with another son of the community, a soldier in the Korean War who died the day he came home. More
It is 1990 and Stanton, Indiana is a typical town with church youth groups, a bustling diner, a summer Wood Carving Festival, and a busy mayor who also runs the mortuary. But, this is not to be confused with a Norman Rockwell setting. The Gulf War is breaking out, Ryan White lives nearby, and AIDS is sweeping the nation.
Despite all that, Stanton does not appear to have any gay or lesbian people, or so it seems to Victor Beck, who worries about himself because he is attracted to boys. He distracts himself with his photography and tries to push aside his mother's interest in his social life. As high school life unfolds, Victor meets a new girl in town and begins to wonder if he has it wrong. Could he like Bridget in "that way"?
For her part, Bridget is learning her way around Stanton, having just moved from Chicago with her mom and sister. She is mourning her father who died of cancer and has strong ideas about loyalty and compassion for friends, which are soon to be tested.
Meanwhile, a second and earlier story unfolds of a Korean War soldier, Vaughn Evanston, who died the day he returned home to Stanton. His grieving parents learn that he had a gay lover and their decisions about how to respond to that knowledge fuel the cycles of secrecy, love, grief, and memories that propel the story forward.
The stories of Victor and Vaughn become entwined and the good people of Stanton have to wrestle with their history, their prejudices, and their commitment to the health and welfare of their children.
In Our Midst is general interest fiction that exposes the raw vein of homophobia in our society. The book involves an ensemble cast of sympathetic characters who are recognizable to all of us. The nuanced writing, the staccato events, and the multi-layer plot keep the reader fending off interruptions and turning the pages.
The LGBT community, the faith community, parents, mentors, teachers, and teens will find In Our Midst of particular value but it is the general public that will find satisfaction in a good yarn that suddenly means so much more.
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