In this prize-winning novel, young Taylor Hanes strives to leave his North Carolina mill town and his struggling family. Even though he is straight, Taylor wins a gay/lesbian-designated scholarship to the University of North Carolina and witnesses negative attitudes toward LGBT people while hiding the truth about his own sexuality for the sake of the scholarship. In attempting to follow its terms, he slowly becomes active in a campus anti-discrimination organization.
Meanwhile, Taylor is harassed by the ghost of Bernard Pembroke, his scholarship’s creator/donor, who attended the University in the 1920s. After a séance by which Taylor is able to reunite Bernard and his beloved partner Damien, who were separated due to Bernard’s homophobic father, he is able to retain his scholarship by being an activist for LGBT rights.
This lively story of growing up, with its mixture of struggle and sadness but also a happy ending, is clearly written and entertaining. The William Faulkner Literary Award panel described it thusly: “Considers a common theme in Faulkner, a boy’s transition to manhood. Handles well a sophisticated narrative structure and character development.”
This novel is highly recommended for all libraries and for readers interested in contemporary LGBT writing.
James Doig Anderson
Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University