Whether she’s writing about gay or straight relationships, the dynamics of family ties or friendships, Beach-Ferrara’s exploration of the numerous types of love are spot-on in her debut short story collection.
Set primarily in San Francisco and North Carolina, she links the characters as many of them move in and out of each other’s lives, dealing with common emotions and often complicated situations. In "Stayin' Alive," physician Alex struggles with the death of a relationship as thoughts of her deceased uncle, a drug addict who taught Alex to cuss and was instrumental in her success, play out in her mind. In "Different Paths, Same Woods" and "American Martyr," readers meet Ruth, a stoic, cancer-stricken mother caught between her husband’s rejection of their gay son, Peter, and her need to reconcile. "Custody Bus" transports a divorced woman who has trysts with her ex-husband in various hotel rooms (where she works) back to her earlier days when children of divorced parents were forced every Friday to board a bus to comply with court-ordered visitations with noncustodial parents. On the eve of deploying to Fallujah with her National Guard unit, Keisha, a Durham police officer in "Love the Soldier," conducts one final stakeout and reflects upon her older brother’s death, her failed marriage and the secret that she keeps from her pastor father and devout mother. Expressive and sincere, Beach-Ferrara’s stories give voice to common, yet often uncomfortable, themes in society: same-sex love and issues of marriage, identity, religious beliefs, military service and intolerance.
The author’s success—she’s a minister and LGBT rights advocate—lies in the simplicity of her style and the honesty of her words as she builds each story, one as fine as the next.