Guest Lesbrarian Lindy Pratch reviews One in Every Crowd by Ivan E. Coyote

Ivan E. Coyote’s autobiographical stories are especially chosen for a teen audience in the collection One in Every Crowd. I was pleased to encounter many of my favourites from previous collections. In the same way that I like listening to some songs over and over, it’s nice to read a good story more than once. I don’t usually allow myself this pleasure, since I don’t often reread books. (Mostly because there are too many new books to get to.)

“No Bikini” — about not being trusted with a two-piece bathing suit as a child — is in here. So is “The Red Sock Circle Dance” — about a friend’s child who started crossdressing when he was still a toddler. There are also three more stories about this boy, Francis, and it’s nice to see him get older through Coyote’s eyes. In “Imagine a Pair of Boots,” Coyote talks about gender pronouns, saying she doesn’t have a preference because neither one fits her: “she pinches a little and he slips off me too easily.”

Coyote writes about her childhood in Whitehorse, Yukon, and about her current home in Vancouver. Many of the newer pieces are about Coyote’s storytelling performances in schools across Canada. Her anti-bullying message is so important, as she explains in “As Good as We Can Make It”:

Bullies grow up — their behaviour gets modified and sometimes their language gets slicked over with education — and they become the political, financial, and social arbiters of life as we know it. I bet you any money that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was a bully in school, and don’t we all wish now that someone had nipped him in the bud before it was too late for Canada.
(Yes, I certainly do.) Coyote speaks directly to young butches later on in the same essay. “Do not cave into the pressure from the queer community to fit in, either. Make your own decisions, and trust your own heart. Being butch is not just a bus stop on the highway to transitioning.”

Twenty years ago, I sang in Edmonton Vocal Minority, a gay and lesbian community choir. One of the other altos always wore a dress shirt and skinny tie. She was a little more than 5 feet tall and totally butch. During a break in rehearsal one day, when she complained that customers at the electronic store where she worked always called her “sir,” one of the other lesbians suggested that it might be because she wore men’s clothing. The petite butch was rightfully indignant: “They’re not men’s clothes, they are my clothes.”

Gender nonconformists are teachers, whether they choose that role or not. Coyote’s storytelling has an educational element, no matter what age her audience happens to be. Best of all, she is genuinely warm and funny, whether on the page or in person. I’m looking forward to hearing her again at the Vancouver Writers Fest in October 2012.

The young person illustrated on the cover of One in Every Crowd looks both tough and vulnerable against a background of school lockers; someone who is beginning to grow callouses from daily verbal abuse. Someone who may, or may not, live to survive high school. The art is by Elisha Lim, who also did the cover forPersistence: All Ways Butch and Femme (which is on my TBR pile). Lim obviously has a thing for butches; one of her recent creations is a graphic novel, 100 Butches. Images from 100 Butches can be viewed here, and isn’t it delightful?

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Find more of Lindy Pratch’s reviews at her book blog, Lindy Reads and Reviews!

Guest Lesbrarian Lindy Pratch reviews Carry the One by Carol Anshaw

Five adults left a wedding reception in rural Wisconsin very late one night in 1983. Stoned, drunk or sleepy, none of them were in any shape for driving. Their car struck and killed a child and her death stayed with them for years. In Carry the One, Carol Anshaw explores the connections between human beings: siblings, parents, married couples, lovers and offspring, as well as fellow participants in a tragic event.

Alice, sister of the bride (Carmen), and Maude, sister of the groom (Matt), discovered a passion for each other on the night of the wedding. “All through the night Alice had tried to break down the elements of Maude, then add her up, but she kept getting lost in the higher math, the exponential blur.”

Later, arithmetic comes up again when Alice speaks of the connection between all of them who were in the car that night: “Because of the accident, we’re not just separate numbers. When you add us up, you always have to carry the one.”

“In a deep recess, an inchoate space where thoughts tumble around, smoky and unformed, Alice’s biggest fear was that she and Maude and the accident were tied in an elaborate knot — that her true punishment for what happened that night would be God, or the gods, or the cosmos giving her Maude, then taking her away.”

The strong bond between Alice and her sister, Carmen is wonderfully portrayed, as is the way they cope with Nick, their junkie of a brother.

“Their alliance was deep, formed in the trenches of childhood where they were each other’s landsmen, comrades in strategy and survival, in warding off the contempt of their parents, and in protecting their brother. These positions had been set up early and were not subject to realignment. So Alice and Carmen always approached each other carefully, with respect — minor diplomats, one from an arctic, the other from an equatorial nation, attempting to understand each other’s customs, participate in each other’s holidays.”

Twenty-five years pass over the course of the story. It’s like a trip down memory lane. For example, Nick wore a thrift shop wedding dress to Carmen’s wedding. (His sisters called him “the backup bride.”) I used to share a house in the early 80s with three other dykes and two gay men, one of whom (David) liked to wear a wedding dress that he found at a charity shop. Our friend k.d. lang later wore that very same dress to collect a Juno award for Most Promising Female Vocalist. But I digress.

I also love that Carmen and Alice are both big readers. At one point, Carmen drops in to find Alice reading stacks of cheesy dyke novels from the forties and fifties:

“The covers had a sinister tone, usually represented by a woman in a black or red slip. ‘They’re all great,’ she told Carmen. ‘They’re like Greek tragedies. Everyone gets horribly punished in the end. Or they hang themselves with a belt over the steam pipe.’
‘But weren’t these somebody’s real, tortured life once?’ Carmen said.
‘Well, sure, but now they’re more like folktales. Hardships of our ancestors. Like Lincoln walking ten miles to school every day through the snow. That sort of thing, only in bars.'”

Nick’s girlfriend, Olivia, was the one driving when they left the wedding. She was negligent in many things, including her job as a letter carrier. On the night of the accident, her trunk was full of undelivered mail. I was a postal worker from 1983 to 1989, so that is another reason that Anshaw hooked me from the start.

Beautiful language, great characters and a moving plot; it all adds up to a superb book.

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Guest Lesbrarian post by Wendy!

A Gay in the Life of Melinda Finch is a new e-book that is now available on the Amazon Kindle and for general download at Smashwords.

The story is set in downtown Toronto. The main protagonist is Melinda Finch, a woman in her early thirties who can’t win when it comes to relationships. She also has a dead-end job at a small magazine company.

The interesting thing about this book is that Melinda is a heterosexual woman, but by an unexpected twist of fate her boss promotes her to become his new lesbian love advice columnist. He is convinced she is homosexual. Melinda takes the job and must go undercover as a lesbian to try to write a convincing column. Along the way, she meets other lesbians and the result is a zany and hilarious romp of a novel with a surprisingly poignant ending about love.

This novel is a humorous and enjoyable read. The characters are quirky and unpredictable and they grow throughout the span of the book. My favourite character was Bitchy (you’ll have to read it to find out what I’m talking about). In addition, there was good conflict and tension between the characters which added to the plot. Melinda comes off as a pathetic character at some points in the novel, but you just can’t help loving her because she is so zany and funny.

I definitely recommend this book.

Melinda also has a love advice/journal blog at: http://agayinthelifeofmelindafinch.blogspot.com/

Guest reviewed by Wendy, a member of the author’s writing group! Thanks, Wendy!

Kristi reviews Jukebox by Gina Noelle Daggett

Harper Alessi is the little rich girl being raised by her grandparents in Arizona; Grace Dunlop is the precocious English-born debutante. Fast friends from age eleven, Grace and Harper grow even closer as they get older. What’s love got to do with it? Everything.

This is Harper’s story–her story of meeting Grace for the first time in 1984 during tennis camp and of going to private school in Arizona, raised more by her grandparents than her world-traveling parents. Her world revolves around Grace, and most of the time she doesn’t even realize it. Harper knows she loves Grace, and as they pursue college and summer trips together, they finally admit their love for each other. Yet it is a love in denial: of course they love each other, of course they are intimate, but that doesn’t mean they are lesbians!

Or does it? As Harper slowly comes into her own identity, she finally admits the truth of her love. Can she and Grace take that final step to truly be together, or will their own privileged circumstances keep them apart?

Sometimes when a story features rich kid characters, it is hard to get in the mood. The privilege of Grace and Harper’s early years really sets the tone of most of the story. The money, the private school, the lack of financial issues in college, the summer trips abroad. It both scrapes at my nerves with the sense of entitlement that all the characters seem to have from the beginning and makes the story that much more believable when conflicts arise with Grace’s mother and boyfriend, and surrounding Grace’s trust fund.

While the start of Jukebox deals with the back story from their childhood to the fateful evening that Harper declares her love and identity to Grace, the second half of it is set twelve years later, in 2005, as both Harper and Grace deal with the choices and feelings of the past. For me, this was the hardest part of the book to connect with. While some of the underlying feelings are completely believable (who hasn’t pined for a lost love?), the way that Daggett set up and broke various plot lines and characters in the story were rather hard to read without rolling my eyes. I also struggled to feel any empathy for Grace. She reminded me of those brash, assuming men in the Harlequin romances that turn the woman inside out and then say, “Hey, guess what, even though I shredded your heart and disappeared for twelve years, I do love you!” Um, no thank you.

On the plus side, I did connect to Harper’s struggle with her love for Grace and denial of her sexual identity. I also enjoyed Daggett’s scene-setting throughout the years. As a girl of the 80s who loves a working jukebox, that was a big draw for me. It was the songs in the jukebox that let Harper first express herself, from “Lost In Your Eyes” to “I Hate Everything About You.” Chapters are not numbered, instead they are titled with expressive songs through the years. Any woman who has made a mix tape for her love will enjoy the weaving of music through the book.

Gina Noelle Daggett was a 2011 Golden Circle Literary Award finalist as a debut author for Jukebox.

Guest post by Ed Karovski Jr: Celebrating pride with humor

As the GLBT community prepares for annual pride celebrations worldwide, this year Simon & Schuster has proudly released the e-book edition of “A Funny Time to Be Gay: Hilarious Gay & Lesbian Comedy Routines from Trailblazers to Today’s Headliners” by Ed Karvoski Jr.

One of the more than 30 humorists spotlighted in the book is Lynda Montgomery, who grew up in a small town in Canada. “My hometown was so small that I was all alone in the Gay Pride Parade,” she says. “I was grand marshal, I was security and I was Dyke on Bike. By the time I peddled my Schwinn across town, I was too tired to even go to the festival!”
Michael Dane also recalls a memorable pride experience. “I was in my first Pride Parade, on the bisexual float,” he says. “You might have seen it — a lavishly decorated fence on wheels.”
The pride celebration is only one of many topics covered in “A Funny Time to Be Gay.” Robin Greenspan, for example, tells her audience that her Neighborhood Watch Group is a joke: “My neighbors watch my home, but not when I want them to. A guy could be climbing over my backyard fence with a CD player and two speakers strapped to his head in broad daylight, and nobody would see anything. But the one time I want to French kiss the Federal Express gal on my own front lawn, they’re out with camcorders!”
According to Greenspan, “Straight people might not get jokes about a Gay Pride Parade, but they’ll understand wanting to French kiss someone they find attractive. Then they can relate with me.”
Among the other openly gay and lesbian comics featured in “A Funny Time to Be Gay” are Tom Ammiano, Judy Carter, Kate Clinton, Sabrina Matthews, Bob Smith, Jason Stuart, Robin Tyler, Suzanne Westenhoefer and Danny Williams.
“The entertainment industry’s closet door has been set ajar by these comics,” notes author Karvoski. “And their time has come — fashionably late, of course!” 
HBO’s “Real Time” host Bill Maher provided a cover quote: “The sex may be safe, but the comedy isn’t. This is the kind of funny, bias-bashing book that all — gay and straight — should be reading.”
Learn more about the book and the author at http://www.EdKarvoskiJr-Author.com.
Find dates and information for local pride events worldwide at http://www.interpride.org.

Guest Lesbrarian Orange Sorbet reviews Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

I know I will be judged for this, but Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite writers. She may not be a favourite of the critics, sure, but she has a huge fanbase nonetheless because people like stories that are plucked from the headlines. Stories that are relevant, stories that matter. Picoult has covered the death penalty (Change of Heart), “test-tube babies” (My Sister’s Keeper), school shootings (Nineteen Minutes), date rape (The Tenth Circle), so on and so forth – so it was really only a matter of time till she came to write about LGB issues.

The trouble with beginnings is that they have to end
Never thought I’d be the girl who said, “Remember when?”

Sing You Home tells the story of Zoe and Max Baxter, an ordinary couple trying for a baby. Their marriage eventually dissolves from the stress, and Zoe finds her way into the arms of another woman, Vanessa, while Max finds solace in an evangelical church that is – surprise! – strongly anti-gay.

There is a lot of ground covered in this book; you could probably label the overarching themes as “religion” and “sexuality” but the heart of the book lies in the finer issues: later-in-life lesbianism, fertility & birth, embryos vs. “pre-born children,” parental/familial support (or lack thereof), religious media grandstanding… the list goes on. It makes for a very compelling read to see how everything comes into play in the lives of the 3 main characters, and Picoult’s skill lies in making us feel for the real, ordinary people at the centre of this maelstrom who never asked for any of it. At the same time, I did also feel that the book was somewhat rushed and touch-and-go at some points, especially when compared to the much slower pace her other novels take. (Then again, this does tie in with the U-Haul lesbian stereotype.)

Picoult does her best to present all sides of the argument fairly, and I did enjoy reading the religious side of things because like anyone else, I am more receptive to words delivered non-threateningly on paper than yelled in my face, even if those words on paper talk about people in the book yelling things in other characters’ faces. The sheer amount of hostility in the Real World would make anyone hesitant to step out from their comfortable bubbles among like-minded folk so it’s always good to have more balanced reads. However, have no doubt that Picoult is firmly in the bleeding-heart liberal camp. Some of her pro-LGB arguments are delivered with the subtlety of a train wreck, and it is immediately apparent that the book slants this way. It might be easy enough for you to figure out how the book ends, but as with any other Picoult book in which plot twists greet you at every bend, don’t presume to know how it’ll get there.

Big Brother’s in my living room, offering critiques
Pastor yells and tells me I should turn the other cheek
Census taker says there is no label for my sin
Doctor’s office will not let me be the next of kin
It’s a different drummer, but still the same old song
What part of this ordinary life is wrong?

I am not a poster child, I am not a cause
I won’t be a scapegoat while you rewrite the laws
I know what makes a family, I don’t need it defined
What’s missing in your life
That makes you take away from mine?

My favourite part of the book is definitely the accompanying original soundtrack written by Picoult’s friend Ellen Wilber, available for download online. (The italicised bits in this review are lyrics and not text excerpts.) Before getting to Sing You Home, I’d read Melissa Etheridge’s The Truth Is…: My Life in Love and Music and thought that that book would be so much better with a soundtrack (for obvious reasons) – and then the next book I chose just so happened to have one! It may sound like a queer concept (pun intended), but Zoe is a music therapist in the book and so the songs actually blend in really well with the text as you follow her journey. You won’t miss out on anything if you choose to give them a pass, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that.

Every life has a soundtrack.

There is a tune that makes me think of the summer I spent rubbing baby oil on my stomach in pursuit of the perfect tan. There’s another that reminds me of tagging along with my father on Sunday mornings to pick up the New York Times. There’s the song that reminds me of using fake ID to get into a nightclub; and the one that brings back my cousin Isobel’s sweet sixteen, where I played Seven Minutes in Heaven with a boy whose breath smelled like tomato soup.

If you ask me, music is the language of memory.

Sing You Home isn’t the most powerful piece of LGBT literature – I’m sorry to say this, but at points it does become pretty clear that it’s written by a straight writer and a couple of tropes I thought were long dead were rehashed in the book – but it’s a good read and, I believe, an important one. Why? Picoult is a popular, respected mainstream writer. People who may have otherwise steered far, far away from these issues will be drawn to this book just because this #1 New York Times bestselling author wrote it, and she deals with it with more sensitivity and respect than I could have ever asked for.

It only seems appropriate then that I end with this: thank you, Jodi Picoult.

We wouldn’t have a future
If I never had a past
You may not be my first love
But you’re gonna be my last

Thank you so much for the review, Orange Sorbet! You can find Orange Sorbet’s blog here, and the original post of this review here.

If you’d like to submit a guest lesbrarian review to the Lesbrary, click here!


Guest Lesbrarian Orange Sorbet reviews Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson

I am not a fan of purple prose (or anything even slightly resembling it); I much prefer stories being told as they are because I am very much a non-fiction kind of person. I didn’t expect to become a fan of Jeanette Winterson, for she has spoken of her discovery that “plot was meaningless to [her]” and that “[her] love affair was with language, not with what it said.” Neither did I expect to like Written on the Body much when I opened the book and was greeted by this:

I am thinking of a certain September: Wood pigeon Red Admiral Yellow Harvest Orange Night. You said, ‘I love you.’ Why is it that the most unoriginal thing we can say to one another is still the thing we long to hear? ‘I love you’ is always a quotation. You did not say it first and neither did I, yet when you say it and when I say it we speak like savages who have found three words and worship them. I did worship them but now I am alone on a rock hewn out of my own body.

That’s not to say I didn’t like this quote, however. I did. Just a couple of paragraphs down (get the book!) and I was hooked in a way I could not have anticipated, in spite of the run-on sentences and quixotic references. I can’t really describe Winterson’s writing – and I apologise for this, because I realise this is part of the point of reviews – but it is at times sharp and witty, clever and observant, and unfailingly flowery and rich. I might call it self-indulgent, at times, but never quite lyrical; there is an awkward pace to her words, like the words are tumbling out of the narrator rather than flowing as you would expect a love story to. (Perhaps I am mistaken in labelling a “love story,” though, because it is very much more a one-sided narrative that often appears to be about love itself instead of any one particular love.) I will admit that I did skim through some parts, especially the latter part of the book, and I would be perfectly comfortable with it being a hundred pages shorter but I think this is more my impatience and discomfort with decorated prose rather than a fault of the book itself. I can imagine others enjoying this much more than me.

She nodded. ‘When I saw you two years ago I thought you were the most beautiful creature male or female I had ever seen.’

The key twist – or gimmick, if you’re so inclined – of this book is that you know practically nothing of the narrator. In particular, readers are kept guessing at the narrator’s gender and sexuality. I loved this concept, and I loved reading a narrative about love and infatuation and sex without gender thrown in the mix. It was never an issue that took away from the story and was instead a persistent curiosity that kept me turning the pages.

There is something significant I think you must understand before reading this book: because the picture of the narrator is so incomplete, your biases will influence the way you read this book very strongly. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of book, and which side you fall on could change on any given day. I did not for a moment feel that the narrator was anything but female and young – I could’ve imagined it, but I was sure then that I was picking up on a fair bit of misandry and stereotypically youthful foolishness (if I am to be allowed some amount of ageism here) – but I have heard of those who thought otherwise. Experiments with gender aside, this is still a love narrative first and foremost and one of the most intense, obsessive kind, nonetheless: I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it if I were feeling particularly alone or nauseated by coupledom (see: Valentine’s Day). You will be, after all, essentially listening to someone go on and on about a newfound love interest, albeit with more fluency and fluorish than I’m sure your real life infatuated friends can manage in their varying states of enamour. Finally, if you are conservative, or maybe just squeamish? Stay far, far away.

All in all, I would definitely recommend reading this book. It’s not for everyone, but I’d say it’s worth a read because it’s different and something that you might just enjoy exploring.

In bereavement books they tell you to sleep with a pillow pulled down beside you. […] Who writes these books? Do they really think, those quiet concerned counsellors, that two feet of linen-bound stuffing will assuage a broken heart? I don’t want a pillow I want your moving breathing flesh. I want you to hold my hand in the dark, I want to roll on to you and push myself into you. When I turn in the night the bed is continent-broad. There is endless space where you won’t be.

Thank you so much for the review, Orange Sorbet! You can find Orange Sorbet’s blog here, and the original post of this review here.

If you’d like to submit a guest lesbrarian review to the Lesbrary, click here!


Guest Lesbrarian Rie reviews The Chelsea Whistle

Previous to reading The Chelsea Whistle, I’d attempted a memoir by a smothered-but-privileged writer. This history of Tea’s youth soared where that failed.

It’s all those adjectives given to books that end up written by a mom in the midwest–raw, gritty, real, hopeful–but this one’s real. It’s the brutality of childhood that we all experience, the confusion of adolescence, the disillusionment of young adulthood. It’s climbing into a forbidden creek and seeking validation from a psychic teahouse in Boston, neon costumes and pop-punk anthems that give you a glimpse of a world beyond Chelsea, a string of loser boyfriends before convincing yourself that you’ve fallen in love with the most beautiful flapper-girl-artist ever, a bad high at the first Lollapalooza, rejecting and then uniting with your sister over shared abuse. The end has been construed as depressing by some, but it’s not, when you realize this is only the beginning of her life in print. (It continues with The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America, Rent Girl,  and Valencia).

So beautiful and ugly that it hurts, Tea’s memoir is for those who want a true slice of life, a coming-of-age of a queer feminist force of nature.

Thanks, Rie! You can find more of her reviews at friendofdorothywilde.blogspot.com!

Guest Lesbrarian Orange Sorbet reviews Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi

I thought Teri Hatcher’s Burnt Toast: And Other Philosophies of Life had poisoned celebrity autobiographies for me forever, but when I first heard of Portia’s Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain, I knew I had to get it. (This may or may not have had to do with how cute I think she is.) I had simultaneously high and low hopes for this book — high because of all the hype surrounding it, which I suppose is only natural when the author’s one half of the most famous lesbian couple and probably on Oprah’s speed-dial; and low because this still is a book written by an unproven author, after all.

In Unbearable Lightness, Portia details her struggles with eating disorders and her sexuality. As mentioned in her interviews, she wrote it from the “perspective of a sick person” and so most of the book tracks her intense obsession with weight loss and increasingly extreme behaviour until she reaches an all-time low of 82 pounds (about 37kg).

I decided not to eat the egg whites. I didn’t need them. As they slid off the plate and into the trash, I felt a surge of adrenaline. I felt invincible, powerful. Not eating them was incredibly difficult and by not eating them I had just proven to myself that I was stronger than my basic instincts, that I could deny them. I wouldn’t give in to the desire to eat, because after all, isn’t that what fat people do? They give in to desire? They know they shouldn’t eat the brownie, but they just can’t help themselves.

What immediately struck me was how readable the memoir was. When writing about mental illnesses in particular, I believe, authors have to work doubly hard to have their readers empathise with being in a position most people aren’t usually sympathetic to while at the same time avoid writing a piece that is excessively intense or triggering. Let’s put it this way: when dealing with someone with depression, people instinctively think, “Why can’t you just be happy? It’s not that hard.” Portia deftly brings her readers into the mindset of an anorexic/bulimic without overwhelming them, and the overall effect is that you get a story about a life you will never experience — and never hope to — but with a person in the middle of it whose battles you can strongly relate to.

As Portia’s weight steadily decreases, the narrative alternates between her life in Hollywood (particularly on the set of Ally McBeal, the show which catapulted her to fame) and her childhood in Australia. She tells the story of how a desperate desire to constantly remake herself pushed her to change her name on a whim at age 15 — Portia de Rossi was actually born Amanda Lee Rogers — and to ditch her “perfectly worn black leather engineers’ boots” in favour of more feminine Capri pants and high heels years later as she faced celebrity-dom.

The story of her sexuality, or more specifically, her quest to hide and/or deny it, is interwoven with her life with EDs. While I did find that this issue sometimes felt forced and didn’t quite gel with the rest of the narrative, I don’t think the memoir would be complete without it because there is no doubt in my mind that having to hide such a big part of yourself would have an incredibly destructive effect on your sense of self, leaving you particularly vulnerable to things like EDs. Also, it leaves for some pretty brilliant I-like-other-girls-but-I’m-not-a-lesbian anecdotes, and there’s of course the beautiful irony that she constantly looked to Ellen DeGeneres as an example of why she couldn’t afford to come out as a lesbian and… well.

My girlfriend had to be heterosexual because I didn’t want to be a lesbian. If she was heterosexual, then it suggested that I was also heterosexual. Also, I was scared of lesbians. In fact, I would cross the street if I saw one coming toward me. One time I didn’t cross the street and I ended up sleeping with a lesbian because I felt sorry for her. She had just lost her girlfriend in a car accident and I was devastated for her. Nothing sounded worse to me than losing your girlfriend; that the one precious connection that you had made in your whole life was gone, wasted, lost in a car wreck. It sounded so much worse to me than a wife losing her husband — it was worse than anything. I found this woman to be quite unattractive. She was overweight and had a shaved head and facial piercings. But I had to sleep with her. It was only polite.

N.B. I would like to know exactly how she identifies those lesbians coming down the street, because I really suck at that. And while it does sound like Portia may have been conned into believing a sob story so that aforementioned lesbian could get into her pants, Ellen actually had a girlfriend who died in a car accident when she was 21.

The only gripe I have about the book is that at the end of it, I still felt there were a fair number of loose ends that needed to be tied up. She mentions her father quite a bit both in the book and her interviews and it is evident that his death when she was a child severely impacted her (naturally), but I don’t know what kind of father he was or what their relationship was like. (In contrast, I found the portrayal of her mother as a figure of many contradictions — nurturing but pressurising, caring but also careless — amazingly realistic.) This might be a minor point but I would also have liked to know more about Bean, her dog who was her sole companion for many years. Most significantly, the book is a lot more about “loss” than it is about “gain,” and there is very little about her recovery.

To be frank, if it weren’t for Portia’s name and fame — or perhaps more accurately, Ellen’s — this (audio)book would not be #1 on iTunes. It probably wouldn’t hit any bestsellers list; it is not particularly insightful, clever, or even especially original. It is honest, though, and it is that refreshing straightforwardness that kept me turning the pages. I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend this book, but it’s definitely worth a read.

Thank you so much for the review, Orange Sorbet! You can find Orange Sorbet’s blog here, and the original post of this review (complete with adorable pictures of Portia) here.

If you’d like to submit a guest lesbrarian review to the Lesbrary, click here!