Beu­lah Land

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Young Adult -

Nancy Ste­wart, Duet Books (NOVEM­BER) Soft­cover $15.99 (250pp), 978-1-945053-45-0

It’s hard grow­ing up queer, es­pe­cially in the back­woods Ozarks. Pickup trucks are as com­mon as gay bash­ing, and there are no safe spa­ces for peo­ple like Vi­o­lette Sin­clair. How­ever, in­stead of an­other tragic tale of woe, Beu­lah Land is a brave, re­fresh­ing novel that of­fers a mes­sage of hope. En­durance in the face of hate, and an in­her­ent pride in who she is, make Vi­o­lette a mem­o­rable, in­spir­ing char­ac­ter.

Vi­o­lette has learned early that there’s no point in feel­ing in­se­cure about her iden­tity. If she took even a mo­ment to hate her­self, or doubt who she is, she’d be buy­ing into what ev­ery­one in Buck­town, Mis­souri, al­ready tells her.

Although her fam­ily sup­ports her, they can’t fight ev­ery­one who spits on Vi­o­lette. More of­ten than not, she finds it eas­ier to dis­ap­pear into the back­ground, keep her head down, and wait un­til she’s old enough to leave. How­ever, when the town threat­ens to over­whelm her en­tire fam­ily—whether it’s re­cruit­ing her brother to cook meth, rap­ing her younger sis­ter, or plan­ning to mur­der her mother— Vi­o­lette can no longer con­sider iso­la­tion an op­tion.

Nancy Ste­wart has pro­duced a tough, coura­geous novel that be­longs on the shelf next to young-adult sur­vival sto­ries like Hatchet and Bridge to Ter­abithia. Vi­o­lette’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to see jus­tice done drives her to the brink of de­struc­tion or dan­ger. How­ever, Ste­wart keeps her risks and the day-to-day strug­gle of be­ing queer and out as a young per­son grounded in re­al­ity. Beu­lah Land is an ac­cu­rate por­trayal of what it’s like to grow up in a place where your very ex­is­tence is chal­lenged, as well as a re­minder that the will­ing­ness to push on wins the day, ev­ery time.

Beu­lah Land is a much needed story of queer re­sis­tance and courage in the face of big­otry and in­tol­er­ance.

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