Under the rainbow A novel

Celia Laskey

Book - 2020

"In the small town of Big Burr, Kansas, ministers warn that "Satan was the first to demand equal rights," a lesbian-owned bed and breakfast mysteriously burns to the ground, and casually bigoted social media posts are the norm. But when a national nonprofit labels Big Burr "the most homophobic town in America" and sends in a task force in a Real World-style experiment - as residents for two years, they'll attempt to broaden hearts and minds - no one is truly prepare...d for the other. Avery desperately wants to fit in with her new high school classmates, but with her "lesbian crusader" mom running the task force, she's terrified that it's only a matter of time until she's outed. Across town, Linda tries to escape her grief over her son's death by befriending the arrivals, who know mercifully little about her past. But to Christine, profoundly attached to the carefully orchestrated rhythms of Big Burr life, they are not only a threat but a call to action. As tensions roil the town, cratering relationships and forcing closely guarded secrets into the light, local and interloper alike are forced to consider what it really means to belong. Told with warmth and wit, in a chorus of unexpected voices, Under the Rainbow is a poignant articulation of our complicated humanity that reminds us we are more alike than we'd like to admit"--

Saved in:

1st Floor Show me where

FICTION/Laskey Celia
0 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor FICTION/Laskey Celia Due May 28, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Domestic fiction
Lesbian fiction
Published
New York : Riverhead Books [2020]
Language
English
Physical Description
278 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780525536161
0525536167
Main Author
Celia Laskey (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Big Burr, Kansas (population 10,000), has been named the most homophobic town in America by a national gay organization called Acceptance Across America. To make things interesting, AAA has sent a queer task force to live in Big Burr for two years as an experiment in consciousness-raising. How the town reacts is the substance of this novel, made up of linked short stories. Each of the 12 stories is a first-person account by a local resident or member of the task force. Thus, the first story is told by Avery, the daughter of the lesbian task-force director, who is afraid to come out to her mom as straight. Another story introduces us to Christine, a conservative Christian who attempts to set an AAA billboard on fire. Then there is thirtysomething Gabe, a married hunter and local sports-store owner who is struggling with being secretly gay. At turns melancholy, bittersweet, and even buoyant, the stories constitute a kind of queer, twenty-first-century Our Town that, in this revisionist exercise, is deeply satisfying. A fine first novel. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Laskey's pointed if didactic debut explores what happens when a small Kansas town is disrupted by outsiders. Fifteen-year-old Avery moves to Big Burr, Kans., after LBGTQ nonprofit Acceptance Across America called it the "Most Homophobic Town" in the U.S. and recruited one of her lesbian moms to lead a team of volunteers to spread tolerance. The narrative is strung together by short segments from the points of view of long-term residents and newcomers such as Avery, who fears that her mothers will be disappointed by her heterosexuality, while classmates egg her locker at school when they discover she has gay parents. Avery bonds with her sensitive classmate Zach, who stands out for not spewing hateful epithets at the volunteers sent by the nonprofit. Laskey turns the lens unsympathetically on the secretly gay Big Burr resident Gabe, who uses hunting trips as an excuse to check Grindr, and an uptight, straight housewife named Christine, who condemns a billboard showing two women holding hands. While some of the characterizations are subtle, Laskey too often relies on stereotypes of unenlightened hicks, and what begins as a nuanced novel segues into a predictable morality tale, with the outsiders imparting life lessons to those willing to listen, leaving the others mired in despair. Kansas deserves better than this. Agent: Alexa Stark, Trident Media Group. (Mar.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

When a conservative Kansas community is labeled the country’s most homophobic town, a task force of queer social activists voluntarily moves into the community for two years in an attempt to broaden minds and hearts, with unexpected results.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"In the small town of Big Burr, Kansas, ministers warn that "Satan was the first to demand equal rights," a lesbian-owned bed and breakfast mysteriously burns to the ground, and casually bigoted social media posts are the norm. But when a national nonprofit labels Big Burr "the most homophobic town in America" and sends in a task force in a Real World-style experiment - as residents for two years, they'll attempt to broaden hearts and minds - no one is truly prepared for the other. Avery desperately wants to fit in with her new high school classmates, but with her "lesbian crusader" mom running the task force, she's terrified that it's only a matter of time until she's outed. Across town, Linda tries to escape her grief over her son's death by befriending the arrivals, who know mercifully little about her past. But to Christine, profoundly attached to the carefully orchestrated rhythms of Big Burr life, they are not only a threat but a call to action. As tensions roil the town, cratering relationships and forcing closely guarded secrets into the light, local and interloper alike are forced to consider what it really means to belong. Told with warmth and wit, in a chorus of unexpected voices, Under the Rainbow is a poignant articulation of our complicatedhumanity that reminds us we are more alike than we'd like to admit"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize“Delivered with such conviction and grace … fresh … essential.” —The New York Times Book ReviewWhen outsiders on a mission arrive to change a small town’s attitudes, residents and newcomers alike end up transformed. Big Burr, Kansas is the kind of place where everyone seems to know everyone—or so they think. But when a national nonprofit labels Big Burr “the most homophobic town in the U.S.” and sends in a queer task force to live and work there for two years, no one is prepared for what will ensue.  Still grieving the death of her son, Linda welcomes the newcomers, who know mercifully little about her past. Teenage Avery, furious at being uprooted from her life in L.A. and desperate to fit in at her new high school, fears it’s only a matter of time before her classmates discover her mom is the head of the task force. And Gabe, an avid hunter who has lived in Big Burr his whole life, suddenly feels as if he’s in the crosshairs. As tensions roil the town, cratering relationships and bringing difficult truths to light, both long time residents and new arrivals must reconsider what it means to belong. Told with warmth and wit, Under the Rainbow is a poignant, hopeful articulation of our complicated humanity and the ways we can learn to live with each other and ourselves.