It turns out that I accidentally picked this up to read at a kind of perfect time – a time when the world is seriously starting to think (hopefully) about Black Lives Matter. So, reading a short story in which the focus in the lives and importance of equality and an acknowledgement of our privilege sat perfectly with me. Granted, this is in a world that is somewhat ahead of our time, and there are certain aspect which are both terrifying and intriguing. But definitely the perfect time for short stories like this to take centre stage.
I found this short story really sweet. It starts with two men. Happy, in love and comfortable in each other’s presence. And then it begins to make you think. Think about things such as “what constitutes a marriage?” “what shows true love?” “when is forgiveness necessary, or even okay?”. All questions that I frequently ask myself, and were very well answered in this small literary journey.
This was a bit of a first in the Kindred collection – it wasn’t a romance. The lead character was Neurodiverse and LGBTQI. But there was no romance. It wasn’t about finding a romantic connection at all for that matter. Rather, it was all about finding a friendship that works for you. And honestly, it seriously made me think about the friendships we find ourselves in. And what makes them healthy and good. And what makes them toxic.
Holy crap. This book was amazing. It was brilliant, funny and completely impossible to put down! I absolutely adored this novel. And just. Wow. At first I was actually kind of pissed off at the open-ended nature of the ending. But, the more I’ve thought about it, the most I’ve realised just how amazing it truly is.
I’ve never read a story about a gender-fluid person. Or someone who isn’t quite sure of their gender. Except for the Magnus Chase series – that has Alex who changes their gender identity according to their needs and drives. Which, of course, I loved. But, I digress. Alex’s experience is one that feels mostly positive. This story is a much darker and more heart-wrenching version of coming to terms with a gender identity that doesn’t fit into the binary expectations.
I’ve read a novel by Coleman not long ago. And what struck me most about her writing was the fact that she was able to take issues which are constantly occurring in our daily lives, flip them on our head and make you see things from a totally different perspective. The fact that she did that in this short story, all based around gender, made me literally clap my hands in joy.
This year I’ve been steadily expanding my shelves to include more inclusive tales – neurodiverse, LGBTQI+, etc. What I realised on reading this is that I don’t have any good books about people in wheelchairs, amputees, etc. Definitely something that I want to improve on if anyone has any suggestions! But, this was a great start regardless…
Starting this story, I was really intrigued to find out where the “bitter draught” was going to come from. I was honestly expecting something that dealt with prejudice or the difficulties in realising that you are LGBTQI+. But, it wasn’t that at all. Like the first few short stories in this collection, the fact that Simeon was gay wasn’t even dealt with in any way expect to say that he had a significant other who was also male. I love this acceptance and simplicity in the writing. What I wasn’t sure on though was what the “bitter draught” would then end up being…
This was a nice, easy little read. One about discovering just what it is that makes you tick. Without being completely swept away in other, political, slightly more intense agendas. I love that it begins with Amy not quite understanding why Sam doesn’t make her excited by his kisses. And then ends with her finally finding someone who does. There is no real epiphany moment of being an LGBTQI+ person, but just a moment of, wow. So that’s what it should be like.
This is the first short story in the Kindred collection. It is beautiful, simple and completely sweet. It is also a little different to what I expected with a whole new world created in the few pages of story. The fact that it’s also an LGBTQI+ lead who happens to be homeless… well, this short story deals with many minorities in a fantastic and entertaining manner.