Tuesday, January 6, 2009

You should read it: Passing for black by Linda Villarosa

There were a few noteworthy queer novels published in 2008, one of those was Passing for Black by Linda Villarosa (it won best novel in After Ellen’s visibility awards). I read it a few weeks ago over the weekend.

In fact, I think it only took me 4 or 5 hours to read the entire novel. Once I started reading, I could not put it down. The short verdict: I loved it and I definitely think it is the best queer novel of 2008. Now for the longer review:

Passing for black tells the story of Angela Wright, an African American woman in her late twenties who to the outside world has a great life. She has a good job at Desire magazine and a handsome and decent fiancé named Keith.

Keith just happens to be a successful professor of African-American history. All her friends and family think she is a lucky woman and they do not miss an opportunity to tell her so. The only problem is that she isn’t feeling it.

All of her life Angela has done everything that was expected from her and she has tried desperately to fit in, to pass in each and every way. Time and again she has ignored her own thoughts and feelings, in order to be the person she thinks she ought to be, instead of who she really is.
It has sort of worked for her to live her life this way, until she has a chance encounter with Cait. Cait is a sexy androgynous looking woman who teaches gay & lesbian studies at the university that Keith also works at.

She is drawn to Cait in a way that she has never been attracted to someone before. All the feelings she is experiencing are so intense and overwhelming that she does not quite know what to do with herself.

Over the years, Angela has had many crushes on women that she was always able to ignore, only this time the feelings are too strong to just push away. But what is the alternative to denying your true self and hoping it all goes away? And how will pursuing her feelings affect the nice and comfortable life she has built for herself?

Passing for black deals with a lot of different issues, including things like race, sexuality and identity. However, it is really about the journey of finding your true self and standing up for who you are.

Regardless of what that might be or regardless of the consequences. Not everything in this novel I could relate to to the same extend, but that really did not matter, because those parts that I did relate to really hit home.

Even though I never let it get that far like Angela did with getting engaged and everything, I did spend too many years denying my true feelings for women and trying to fit in in the straight world.

Villarosa describes so well what it is like to desperately want to be like everybody else, when deep down you have known all along you aren’t really fooling anybody. Or maybe you are fooling others, but you certainly aren’t convincing yourself.

It takes courage to be yourself, but luckily most of us find this courage eventually.

If you haven’t read Passing for black yet, do yourself a favour and order your copy today. I promise you won’t regret it!

1 comment:

Random said...

Thanks for posting this.
I think this one for me to read!
I can relate in so many ways.

Ex. Time and again she has ignored her own thoughts and feelings, in order to be the person she thinks she ought to be, instead of who she really is..

(I guess I wasn't paying attention to the novels in the visibility awards...)