Monday, 15 October 2012

Family Jewels by Kate Christie

Elizabeth Starreveld, (Junior), is going through a really rough time. Her girlfriend Maddie has dumped her, but that’s not even the worst part, she’s left Junior for her best friend, Dez. That’s double betrayal when you lose your girlfriend and your best friend all in one go.

Junior’s friend and mentor, Fitzy, is seriously ill and not expected to live much longer. Her Dutch/American family have never really accepted her lesbian lifestyle. It’s like they think she has a choice and she’s elected to be a lesbian.

In the midst of all this, Junior’s father invites her to go on a trip to the Netherlands with him. Junior thinks he is going to try to talk her into going back to work in the family jewelry store. Junior had decided long ago that she would never go back. It’s with trepidation that Junior accepts his offer.

Junior gets quite a surprise when the trip goes so well. She isn’t even asked to go and work at the store. While exploring Amsterdam with her father, they both begin to bond together. Each learning more about the other than they ever had before. Both Junior and her father question the whys and wherefores of where they had both made mistakes along the way. By the time they return to Michigan, Junior has not only found out more about her family, she’s now ready to move on to the next phase in her life.

Anyone looking for a straight forward lesbian romance won’t find it here. What you will find is an extremely well written book, which is rich in history and the dynamics of family relationships when one of the family is a lesbian. This is basically the story of Junior and her family and friends. Her life, her coming out experience, her loves and losses. Not only romantic losses, but the deaths of those past and present she’s loved and how she deals with all the problems she encounters in her everyday life.

There is a fantastic tour through the the Netherlands, the scenic descriptions had me actually seeing and smelling the flowers and seeing the coffee shops and the clubs and landscape. I loved the tours through places I can only dream of visiting. The Anne Frank Museum and the Homomonument, plus the Keukenhof Gardens, to name a few places. (I Googled them all, and they are exactly as I had visualized them while reading the book).

The characters in this book all interact really well together. Each is essential in the progress of the story of the journey of Junior’s life. There are plenty of highs and lows and lots of fun, as well as the emotional turmoil Junior experiences.

This book left me with a sense of well being. It’s always an added bonus for me when I’ve totally lost myself in the places with the characters an author describes. I look forward to Kate Christie’s next book eagerly.

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