Saturday, June 15, 2013

Natural Order by Brian Francis

This was an unexpectedly good read.  I can't remember where I heard about this book, but I'm glad I did.  The whole book is written from the perspective of Joyce Sparks, an elderly woman now living in a nursing home.  The book moves seamlessly back and forth in time from her teenage years, to her years as a young wife and mother, to the time of her son's death when he's 31, to the time when she's a widow of 70 or so and learns the truth about her first love and back again to the present day.  Joyce's first love turns out to be gay - after their only kiss he takes off to New York and Hollywood and later she hears he's committed suicide by jumping off a boat in Alaska.  It is only when she's 70 she discovers, with horror, the truth of his fate.  Which forces her to deal with her relationship with her son - and how it suffered because she tried to ignore his sexual orientation rather than help him deal with the abuse he took from the outside world as a result.  She didn't even share her concerns with her husband who, she learns long after, would have accepted their son no matter what.  Joyce has many regrets but in some ways she still worries more about what others think than about the people she loves.  The book is well written, often sad, and totally engrossing.  It really captures the consequences of small mindedness for both those who suffer from it and those who suffer because of it.

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