In this coming-of-age novel set in the late 1960s, a young lesbian challenges her bigoted father and rigid society to claim her identity with pride and hope.
In 1967 San Antonio, Texas, gay siblings Tracy and Spencer Franks are faced with more than the usual teenage problems and family secrets. Both are talented musicians, but this engenders little pride from their harshly conservative father, who perpetually finds Spencer too feminine and Tracy not feminine enough. With the gay liberation movement still years away, Spencer and Tracy support each other in exploring their queer identities. They go so far as to stage heterosexual double dates, during which they switch partners as soon as they are out of the public eye. Tall and athletic, Tracy soon finds that she can gain a degree of safety by dressing as a boy, daring in an era in which girls are seldom permitted even to wear pants. In disguise as “Tray,” she can relax with her girlfriend in public. But Tracy also discovers that she has more overall freedom when she is no longer trapped by the societal expectations tied to being a girl. Still, public scrutiny is relentless, and it is not long before both siblings are unmasked and their gay identities exposed. While the tidal wave of repercussions threatens to drown Spencer, Tracy finds the inner resources to stand up to public condemnation and force a grudging respect from those who would ridicule her. She looks toward a life in which shame is replaced by affirmation and joy. Skipstone has delved into a vibrant era of rapidly changing values with empathy and authenticity. Tracy is a fiercely sympathetic protagonist as she resists the numerous forces trying to drive her toward self-hate and conformity. Her story is satisfyingly positive, perhaps a little too much so for realism, but readers will find it hard to complain about her upbeat journey. A few anachronisms, such as “That’s so gay” and “her binary mind,” which were not in common usage until decades after the ’60s, demonstrate that the author is not a member of the baby boomer generation. Nonetheless, the book adeptly captures the zeitgeist of social repression and change that energized the 20th-century counterculture movement.
A moving and romantic coming-out story and a triumphant celebration of lesbian liberation.