Just finished reading this amazing YA novel just about an hour ago and I have so much feels. Mostly because the story resonates so much with me.
My friend from GCN recommended this book on Facebook and I bought it on a whim, book lover that I am. It did not disappoint.
I started reading it earlier today in the morning and immediately connected with the main character, Joanna, who was known as Jo in Atlanta, before she moved out to small town Rome, Georgia, after her father, a radio preacher, married his new wife.
Jo is gay and her father wants her to keep her sexuality under wraps in the small town they are moving into. She reluctantly does and then finds herself crushing over straight girl Mary Carlson. Things then develop between the two of them, and I found myself rooting for her in the book. It has a happy ending and I was in tears at the end of the book.
I don't usually cry over novels but I ended up having a good 10-minute crying session after reading this one.
Perhaps because I know firsthand how difficult it is being gay in a conservative church. Where hate spews from the pulpit and you're not out to church friends in your small group. Where we preach a God of love, and that we are to love our neighbour, but then hate on LGBTQ folk, all rolled up into one big mess.
It's hard to come out to a conservative family. It's hard to come out to friends. It's hard. Period.
And that speaks so much of my experience too.
I have a gay friend who said if he ever came to it, he’d hang himself in his church to make a statement. I share similar sentiments.
That probably explains the bucket full of tears.
Recently in the book of Job my church's been studying, a common theme that keeps coming up is to "not put God in a box". And I am trying to learn how not to. And I try again, step by little step. Because this is the way God's made me, and I know He loves me too.