“Just hand me my walker, child.”
“I think it’s funny that you still call me ‘child’.”
“If I can remember when you was a child and I wasn’t a child myself at the time, then you’re a child.”
Hypnotizing Chickens by Julia Watts is a lesbian romance novel that is so much more than that. Chrys, the heroine, is at one of those lifetime crossroads where you have to sit down and think about which parts of your past you’re going to take into your future. When her doctor girlfriend of six years dumps her for a nurse half her age, and her aging, ailing grandmother fires her aide for stealing her pain pills, the broken pieces of life come together to send Chrys home for the summer to take care of Nanny. The romance that ensues is with Nanny’s physical therapist, the divorced mother Dee, but the romance is only one part of the very complete package that is Chickens.
Author Julia Watts does a phenomenal job of bringing rural Kentucky to life, as well as all those family moments I know all too well — octogenarian grandparents needing help in bathrooms designed for people without mobility problems, loved ones who say ‘friend’ when they mean partner or spouse because they’re trying their hardest but still have to meet you where they are, and food you remember from childhood. This isn’t just a book about two women meeting and falling in love. It’s a book about a woman looking for the next direction her life will take; it’s a book about family and how even when they’re frustrating there is still sometimes a whole gallon of love to go around; it’s a book about having the pride not to be ashamed of things that have meaning to you or where you came from even if someone you care about is looking on them with disdain.
This story has probably been done before, with straight people. Dumped woman goes home to the couuuuntry to lick her wounds, eat some greasy food, and find true love. But I want this story for us. I love seeing stories where lesbians and bisexual women have families, friends, and a community, instead of just being isolated into stories where we only exist in order to get into romances. That’s why I wish this book was a movie. I can hear the twangy country soundtrack now — with all female vocalists, of course! — and I can see the gorgeous vistas of the countryside in my mind.
This isn’t a book free from any reference to homophobia, but it’s dealt with realistically, and it never takes over the story. I won’t promise you’ll like Chrys’s family — her father is, as she describes it, one of those hypocritical right-wingers who vote for people who wind up hurting them economically — but she likes them, and they like her. And you can see they’re making an effort.
I want this book to do well. When I was looking up the author this morning I found out she’d written “La Belle Rose”, one of the two stories I liked in the Once Upon a Dyke anthology. I’d check that one out, too, if you have time.
Shira Glassman is "a bisexual Jewish violinist passionately inspired by German and French opera and Agatha Christie novels. She and her agender same-sex spouse live in north central Florida, where the alligators are mostly harmless because they're too lazy to be bothered."
- The Second Mango (2013, Prizm Books) Golden Crown Literary Society finalist for Young Adult
- Climbing the Date Palm (2014, Prizm Books) - "The Artist and the Devil" (2014, Vitality's free minizine, online only)
- A Harvest of Ripe Figs (2015, Prizm Books — due out 1/21/2015)
- Tales from Outer Lands (included free with the Figs paperback, but available as a separate eBook 2/11/2015)
She says "It's worth noting that every single one of those works has at least one bisexual character, and that "The Artist and the Devil" directly confronts and punctures biphobic stereotypes where one of the two short stories in the Tales, "Aviva and the Aliens", stars a bisexual woman rescuing herself and keeping her girlfriend safe, too. I am currently working on book four of the Mangoverse series."