Jodie Taylor’s first lesson about the consequences of her attraction to the little girl next door is delivered by her mother. Jewel Taylor tells her ten-year-old daughter: “Lord, baby girl, it’s starting to look like you’re going to need to take up far less space in this world. Double up on them clever lies you’re so good at. That’s if you figure on staying alive.” It is the late 1940’s, being gay is still illegal in all 50 states, and being “peculiar” is dangerous, even for a child.
Gays and lesbians were prosecuted for their sexuality, particularly in the south, until 2003, when the Supreme Court ruled that such laws were unconstitutional. The ruling invalidated laws that were still on the books in thirteen states.
In her wonderful second novel, It’s Not Like I Knew Her, Pat Spears looks at a time before the gay rights movement, when young gays and lesbians understood that admitting who they were could lead to prison, institutionalization, and unspeakable violence that was widely regarded as justifiable.
But this is no self-indulgent rant against injustice. Instead, it is a clear-eyed look at the way we were, and what it cost countless young Americans: the emotional and psychological damage of living in secrecy; the constant threat of violence; and the frequency with which they committed violence against themselves. Jodie Taylor experiences all of this and more, living her life behind a wall of lies and half-truths.
But Jodie is fierce and resilient, and her journey is ultimately a hopeful one. Along the way, we discover that we do know her, and that we’re the better for it.
Order the book here
Print and e-book also available on Amazon
Or read reviews here