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Love knows no gender.
Pate Boone, a twenty-six-year-old transgender man, embarks on a new adventure when his childhood best friend, and yes, ex-lover, Oakley Ogden, convinces him to escape their hometown in hopes for something new.
They land in Cloverleaf, a tiny rural town in Montana, so that Oakley can care for his granny who is battling breast cancer. She pressures the two young men to enroll in a nearby college. Pate immediately becomes enthralled with Maybelle, a young, vivacious freshman to whom he fears revealing his transgender identity. Still, he finds it impossible to resist Maybelle, even after he meets her ex, Bullet, a large, violent man determined to keep Pate away from “his girl.”
But there are others who accept Pate immediately, like Stormy. An outdoorsy, rugged freshman, Stormy warns Pate away from Maybelle and Bullet, but Pate’s too infatuated to heed these warnings.
Oakley tries to support his friend’s new love but finds himself entangled in his own emotional calamity when he unintentionally falls for Jody, a gay and ostentatiously confident drag queen. This new relationship awakens deep internal conflicts in Oakley as he struggles to accept his bisexuality, lashing out at Pate and causing friction between him and Jody.
Oakley must decide if he can overcome his insecurities so he doesn’t lose the love of his life. And Pate must discover if the love between him and Maybelle is strong enough for her to accept him as a transgender man, or if she will break his heart.
We sat on his sofa, me sipping water through a straw and listening to a punk rock station that Stormy had found just for me. He held a bag of ice in a washcloth against my jaw for me, and I eventually laid my head on his lap to make it easier to ice.
“I know it’s hard to talk, but I don’t know what transgender means. Would you explain it to me?” he asked.
Moving my mouth the best I could, I shared my story with Stormy. I told him how I’d never felt like a girl but rather a boy always trying to be something he wasn’t. I told him about the baggy clothes in high school, the sports bras and binders to squish down my breasts, and Oakley, loving me as a girl but not as a man. I even told him about the suicide attempt. At this point, I figured he had already seen me get assaulted. He had already seen my vagina. Everyone in town already knew. What more could I lose?
He just listened in intent silence. Surprisingly, words flooded out of my swollen jaw, and I kept drooling as I talked. Stormy wiped it away with the washcloth and kept listening. The hours flew by until I saw the sun shining in through his blue curtains and heard the early birds chirping outside. I was exhausted.
4 out of 5 (very good)
GRAYALITY is a book full of emotions, both good and bad. Pate is a trans-man who likes the on-and-off again girlfriend of the local bully, and Oakley, his best friend, thinks he is straight until he meets Sadie at a drag-queen show. Their new start in a small country town just got more complicated.
There are words of wisdom in here, spoken between the two best friends, or their new friends. However, there is also a lot of country stereotypical behaviour that may or may not be exaggerated.
I loved seeing Pate and Oak go through their relationships, although I can honestly say I couldn't stand Maybelle from the beginning. Oak is the one who had to change his thinking the most and is also the one who suffered the most, I would say. Pate is the one who physically paid for being who he is.
This was a great story that I thoroughly enjoyed. It is emotional and almost tangible in what our young friends go through. A brilliant read that I highly recommend.
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
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Carey PW (he/they) is a debut author, college instructor, and mental health counselor. Carey is currently completing his next manuscript, Acing the Game.
Carey lives in Montana, and identifies as nonbinary, transmasculine (AFAB) and panromantic asexual. Due to the lack of resources in rural communities, Carey has discovered that writing about his lived experiences is a therapeutic outlet for him and hopes that his readers relate to his own personal struggles and triumphs shared through his characters’ narratives. Carey is particularly interested in exploring relationship conflicts around sexuality and gender differences. He has also worked as a high school writing instructor and college writing instructor, earning a B.A. in English Literature, a M.Ed. in English Education, and Ph.D. in Social Foundations of Education all from the University of Georgia. In 2020, Carey earned his second M.Ed. in Counselor Education and works as a licensed clinical professional counselor, LCPC. He has a strong passion for working with the unique mental health issues of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Readers can learn more about Carey from his blog, www.careypw.com. When he is not writing, Carey is busy training for marathons, parenting his six cats, sharing his culinary talents on social media, serving on the board for the nonprofit Center for Studies of the Person (CSP) and learning photography.
Carey PW loves to hear from readers. You can find his contact information, website and author biography at http://www.pride-publishing.com.
Author Blog: www.careypw.com