Truth Disguised by Quandi

Posted on

truthdisguisedPublisher/Date:  Lulu.com, Dec. 2008
Genre(s):  Coming of Age, Romance, Contemporary Fiction
Pages:  245
Website:  http://www.truthdisguised.ning.com

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

A woman’s appearance doesn’t define her sexuality, so dressing like a boy shouldn’t make you a lesbian, at least that’s what Francis “Frankie” Livingston believes as she struggles with her imposed identity in TRUTH DISGUISED by first-time author Quandi.

Tell that to her family and friends. They think her tomboy attire, the fact that she’s never really had a boyfriend, and masculine demeanor are signs that she loves the ladies. Frankie hears it from her mother, who boisterously disapproves of her daughter being gay because of her own demons, and from her all-boy circle of friends that accept her but wonder out loud if she likes boys or girls. Only her father and girly twin sister, Arianna, support her no matter what or whom she chooses.

That’s the thing, though. Frankie doesn’t know what she wants. She’s always felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body, but can’t say for sure that means she’s a lesbian. When her dormmate, Tasha, becomes an admirer, Frankie pursues this flirtation with reservations. She’s intrigued at being with a woman, and gives Tasha the relationship she wants, but secretly, Frankie has always held an attraction to her best friend, Maurice.

This confusion has been a life-long burden for Frankie, haunted by whom she should be and whom she should love. Society tells her one thing, but her head tells her another. It’s when serious issues arise with her family that she realizes her heart is the only thing she should listen to.

In Truth Disguised, Quandi has created an appealing heroine in conflicted Frankie. Her protagonist’s journey is enhanced by fully-fleshed supporting characters, like her parents, sister and four homeboys. Also, the “don’t judge a book by its cover” message isn’t forced on the reader. It’s only the grammatical errors that take away from the plot. I was a little sad at the ending, but it’s an eye opener for sure. A book for teens and questioning women alike, Truth Disguised proves appearances aren’t everything.

Reviewed November 2009


Passing for Black by Linda Villarosa (Aug. 2008 Pick of the Month)

Posted on

passingforblackpotmlogo

 

 

 

 

Publisher/Date:  Dafina, June 2008
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  262
Website:  http://www.lindavillarosa.com

Rating: ★★★★½ 

We’ve all dealt, in some form or fashion, with the issue of being black, being a woman, and being gay – at times feeling as if you don’t really fit on any side, but having to stay true to both aspects of yourself. In PASSING FOR BLACK, the first foray into fiction by renowned journalist Linda Villarosa, this entanglement is experienced by Angela Wright, a buppie struggling with both her sexual and racial identities.

By outside appearances, Angela’s life is seamless in her middle-class world, where she’s an editor at Désire magazine, engaged to a history professor at a prominent university and mingles with a Black elite inner circle. Yet it’s simply a facade. Angela has never felt secure with herself, and “passing” is simply her coping mechanism to deal with never feeling “black enough.” With her mother, Janice, considered a local heroine in the black female community, she always felt tragically compelled to live up to her mother’s roots. And at 29, she should be ready to be married after a six-year relationship with Keith, but something always holds her back. Namely, her attraction to women, a temptation she forbade herself from having for so many years.

But it’s one she can’t resist with Cait Getty, one of Keith’s colleagues at Amsterdam University. After spying the woman hanging posters for a lesbian sex conference, all pretenses of a white picket fence life fade away. Instead, she finds herself drawn to the androgynous vibe of this white woman, an activist whose fervor for women’s issues is only matched by her passion for Angela. With sandy brown hair, boyish good looks and British accent, Cait is nothing Angela expected to be infatuated with. In fact, she’s everything opposite of what her family and friends would see her with.

It leaves Angela, who’s normally indecisive and non-confrontational, torn as to whom she should be with. Her head tells her to do the right thing and stay with her “good black man,” while her heart demands she face her fears and be with the one person who makes her feel true to herself. It’s a hard decision, with consequences that will manage to hurt anyone involved.

And while Angela’s living an illusion, others in her life are also passing. Cait focuses so much lesbian rights that she ignores the plight of anyone else that doesn’t fit in her box. Keith feigns a “good Negro” veneer to his white superiors while alienating his own people. Even her best friend, Mae, learns to leave her Southern roots behind to be accepted in the workplace.

Yet Angela is the center of this provocative tale. When Angela decides her future much later, she satisfies her craving to be true to herself, and passing just isn’t good enough anymore. Because of Cait, everything she never thought she wanted turns out to be everything she needs.

Passing for Black makes for a challenging read. Villarosa tackles the subject of racial and sexual identity with class and a sense of humor. It’s down-to-earth enough for the casual reader, and speak to any black lesbian feeling out of step with their two worlds. Passing conveys that every woman’s journey to herself is never easy, but one she shouldn’t spend passing by.

Reviewed August 2008