The Stone Rainbow
by Liane Shaw
Pub Date: 17 Sep 2019
Read courtesy of NetGalley.com
My first note to myself early in the book was, "As a straight person, I've been curious about this. Maybe I'll find out," in reaction to Jack wondering how to find out if someone he might be interested in is gay or not. It ends up that I don't explicitly "find out," due mainly to the fact that there's nothing to "find out." One simply asks someone, no different than a straight person finds out if a straight person is interested in return -- and sometimes the person isn't straight! People are people! (I also didn't find out because Jack's crush, Benjamin, isn't shy about liking other guys.)
The author's message is clear throughout the book. "I don't live in a fantasy land where being gay is easy. It should be. I don't know why it isn't. Why would anyone care who I decide to spend time with?" and "I'll always have a different heaven from hers. In her heaven, everyone starts fresh, reborn into something better than before. Blind men can see, and the lame can walk...and I would guess the gays become "straight" if they make it that far." [Powerful in the declaration that some see "straight" people as better than "gay" people, that "straight" is something to aspire to.] And the more obvious parade rally cry, "Kindness rules": "If everyone just decides to treat everyone else with kindness, it all goes away. Intolerance,, disrespect, racism, homophobia, misogyny, bullying...all wiped out with one simple command. Be kind."
At first I thought this was just a romance novel, which felt a little light and fluffy and not holding my attention, but it took a more serious turn. I found myself immediately drawn into things that happen in real life... and I cannot believe people do this to others. But they do, and the author offered a way to counteract violence with grace. This story didn't need to be written in great literary prose in order for a clear message and interesting story to come through.