The GLBTRT has been reviewing books and movies in its newsletter since the early 1990s. Trace the evolution of queer publishing through these historic reviews. This review was originally published in Vol. 3, No 4, Winter 1991.
Wings, Ocala. Singin’ the sun up : a novel. Mother Courage Press, 1991. Paper. $8.95. (ISBN 0-941300-20-X)
The majority of this book is written in the form of conversations – external, and in the case of the main character, internal. This style demands an author who can not only hear different voices, but can make the reader hear them also; author Wings succeeds.
One of the telling uses of this is the manner in which Kincaid’s (the heroine) voice changes. At the beginning of the story, she has a recognizable southern accent. When she moves to California, she soon decides to lose the accent because of the way people respond to her and to it. She succeeds so well that her lover doesn’t realize Kincaid is from the south at the beginning of their relationship, and the reader is startled to see how it has slipped away.
The story takes us from Kincaid’s youth in a poor white southern family; her adoption by a well-to-do couple and move to southern California; discovery of her interests and abilities as a teenager and young adult; eventual acknowledgement of her lesbianism; and finally acceptance and healing of the scars from her early years. Along the way the author works below the surface of the story to talk about the dance of the universe, communications with dolphins and the power of Grandma Kincaid to “sing up the sun.”
Many of the characters are recognizable: the lesbian diving instructor, the “best friend” that Kincaid grows away from; the supportive adoptive parents. Indeed, they are almost too good. It’s hard to believe that any parents could say. the right thing so often. Kincaid even has a wonderfully understanding, compassionate lover.
The book is suitable for a collection with contemporary gay/Iesbian fiction, especially one aimed at the older teen/young adult audience.
Reviewed by Susan Lee Sills
University of California, Irvine