Sunday, December 8, 2013

Review- SBF Seeking- by LaToya Hankins

SBF Seeking
By LaToya Hankins
Contemporary/ Lesbian/ Chick lit/Coming out/AA
January 22, 2012
Pgs 234
Pub:  JMS Books, LLC

Kindle edition

Four months before her wedding, Yvette Thurman realizes this might be her last chance to have a sexual fling with a white man. But she never thought placing a personal ad would lead her to discover she was a lesbian.

Yvette's small town life in eastern North Carolina never prepared her for the personal journey she undertakes as she struggles to find her heart's path.

Through personal ads and late night visits to an adult bookstore, Yvette learns more about her own personal desires than she ever did when she was engaged to be married. If she embraces her true self, can she find acceptance and love from her family and friends? Or will she be forced to hide who she really is from those she cares about the most?

So this is not really a book I normally read; I usually stick to romances or erotica. I often find chick lit too close to IRL-- been there done that--want to read something different that doesn’t represent my experiences. This is a book written by an African American woman about African American lesbians. I’m neither of those, so I took a risk and bought this one. The blurb both intrigued me and pushed my buttons—starts out with cheating, a usual “oh hell no” for me. But I was curious to see where the author would go with this since it so brazenly sets up what seems like an unrealistic or over-the-top story line.

Yvette is the main protagonist and this story is told by her. It’s basically a telling of her experience as she semi-consciously (in awareness) creates a catalyst for her own growth. Her life is going perfectly, or so it seems. She has a good job that she enjoys and is engaged to Martin, a man who’s madly in love with her. They’ve been together for a long time and are about to be married. For some reason, and I probably have an opinion that differs from other readers, she jeopardizes her relationship by having a fling with a random white guy because it could be her last chance.

The cheating with a white guy thing is interesting to me because there is no set up for the reader that she’s ever been curious or aching or craved to know what it’s like to be with a “white” guy specifically. It’s kind of odd, I think, to wake up one day and decide you want to have an affair with someone of another race you have no connection with just to experience it specifically. I felt she chose that, maybe unconsciously, because it was a way to be forced to look at some dissatisfaction with her relationship with Martin, but in a non-threatening way. It clearly wasn’t a serious attempt at a possible new relationship even though her decision was one she was willing to follow through on if it worked out.

Lots of people do dumb ass things to jeopardize the “perfect” status quo when they are not conscious of their dissatisfaction. Or if they are conscious of it, they don’t have the courage to do something about it. I think she already knew, deep down, it wasn’t going to affect her at her core as maybe having an affair with a black man might have. However, doing so did make her question what she actually feels towards Martin and it’s the cause for a huge change in her life.

As is common with stories more focused on growth, a series of events catapult Yvette into learning different things about herself, especially one that will cause conflict for those who love her. Through a coworker asking, Yvette ends up helping out a lesbian couple move into her apartment building and becomes friends with them. She ends up going out with them to a gay bar and becomes attracted to a girl who keeps looking at her. There’s a lot in between, but after a while, she feels she’s a lesbian and enters that world 150 %. Meaning, she comes out to everyone without too much angst, and studies everything about being a lesbian: how they dress, what they read, music they listen to, etc.

In some ways I read it as Yvette telling the story from outside herself and I didn’t really get a good feel for what all of this means to her, inside her being. She came across to me as too easy going about cheating on Martin and breaking up, and easy about realizing she’s a lesbian and telling everyone. And she didn’t seem too bothered or freaked about the downfall of her first lesbian love. It felt like her story was kept on the surface as maybe it would if retelling and having emotional distance from it.

I’ll be honest, maybe my impression of her is more about me being an older woman. It’s a story that I think in many ways would be much more interesting to a younger woman who can identify with her growth and the coming out process.

Who was an interesting character for me is Linda. I loved Linda. She’s a warm, juicy, real, down to earth woman who helps Yvette navigate being a new lesbian and coming out process as well as guiding her in a more realistic and practical way about the realities of being a lesbian. I loved her advice to Yvette to just be and let it all happen naturally. And while she’s going through her own issues, being part of an interracial couple and that falling apart, she’s real even in that, expressing her hurt and anger. Her vulnerability comes through even though not her story. I also got a better feel for her emotional state than I did for Yvette’s, making her easier for me to relate to. I would love to read a story with her as the main character.

Throughout the story, the importance of having family and good friends to support you through life is a strong theme.

The main negative thing I’d say about this book is the editing. There are numerous typos. Enough that I noticed them throughout the book. It didn’t bother me too much but it some readers might find it an issue.

At any rate, this was a good read.  I think this is the author’s first published book? Not sure. But I’d read more books from this author. I felt it’s a true and interesting depiction of someone coming out as a lesbian with all the nuances and issues come up.

Heat level: 2

Grade: 3-1/2 stars

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