Monday, September 6, 2010

The Labrys Reunion

Terry Wolverton
Spinsters Ink (2009)
ISBN 9781935226024
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

Every now and then I challenge myself to read something that is clearly out of my usual comfort zone. The results of such endeavors are a mixed bag at best. We are creatures of habit, and all too often pushing the boundaries of familiar leaves us quite ill at ease. Here and there though, such a detour into the unknown and usually slightly scary world leaves me enchanted and enriched. This was definitely the case with my latest foray in the field of lesbian and feminist literature, namely the utterly brilliant "The Labrys Reunion" by Terry Wolverton.

Let me start by saying that this was not an easy, nor a pleasant book to read. It was intense; it was gritty and full of tension. Quite honestly, I do not think I could have read it in one or two days, a few chapters a day was quite enough. In spite of that, or maybe because of it, I loved every page of it, and if I could give it six stars, I would. While my taste usually runs more towards sunny and happy books, or those of the fantasy genre, there is simply something about really good writing that transcends those personal preferences. I couldn't even identify myself with any of the extremely believable, detailed and nuanced characters, yet even that did not bother me any.

Without giving away too much of the story, let me just say that "The Labrys Reunion" deals with a reunion of a group of feminists who were part of a 70s collective called Labrys. One of them, Dana, has lost her young daughter, Emma, and her former colleagues have come to support her. They are joined by Emma's friends, and a clash of generations is inevitable.

I've never considered myself a feminist, although I am sure many of my friends and acquaintances, not to mention my husband, would disagree with that statement, yet I found the insights into the feminist beliefs and the generational differences stunningly interesting. As I've mentioned previously, the cast of characters was superbly drawn, as was the dialogue. The story pulled me in quickly, and definitely did not let go. Ms. Wolverton has a masterful way with words, and the world she draws, as foreign and still scary to me as it was when I first started reading the book; it definitely put me under a spell. I was looking forward to each new scene and I kept marveling at the exquisite details she managed to weave in the story.

While not for the faint of heart, "The Labrys Reunion" is definitely a book that would appeal to the discerning reader who loves a well crafted story and a book with strong messages, delivered in a clear and distinctive voice.

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