Monday, December 8, 2014

Maxine Wore Black by Nora Olsen

Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Jayla's world had never been an easy one for her to navigate. Despite all that she had to endure, the one thing she wanted most was simply to fall in love. Then came Maxine - a charismatic, good-looking woman who stated her genuine love for Jayla and all Jayla's differences. Unfortunately, Maxine already a girlfriend, Becky.

When something devastating happened during a July weekend at Becky's house, Jayla was drawn into a web of lies, contradictions and manipulation unlike anything she ever encountered. She needed to choose between truth and love, the hardest decision one could be asked to make. Could she navigate the murky waters of all Maxine told her in time? Or would she fall victim to the woman's strange spell over her forever?

With all the books offered at NetGalley, it was hard to pick a few each month in order to keep myself from being overwhelmed. However, when I read the description for this book, something about the description set it apart from the others. This particular book did cover subjects that may be hard for some readers due in large part to the theme of domestic violence.

In a weird kind of way, the domestic violence became a character in the story alongside all the others. Jayla was a transgender teen trying to find her way in a world that didn't do well in the acceptance department. She had a rock in her best friend, Francesca, and her Aunt Hope, but the rest of the world wasn't as eager to help. The author was able to present a wide range of people that one might find within the LGBTQ community in way which didn't make light of the the struggles they face - both internally and in society. The skepticism that members of the community face and the lengths that they must go through in order to be accepted within our society today were well presented. On top of all this, Jayla found the love of her life in a cisgender girl named Maxine who unfortunately had a girlfriend well-known in the Center. Maxine was someone from the richer side of the tracks and brought a whole other layer of conflict to the story. The secondary characters in that part of the world had their own neuroses that also didn't make things easy on Jayla.

From the beginning the author eased both the reader and Jayla into the story, smoothly continuing until there seemed to be no hope. It was easy to see how someone who wanted to experience a real sense of love and acceptance could fall victim to someone with less than good intentions. And let's be honest, I was halfway through the book when the thought that the book might have not been up my alley after all. In fact, I envisioned the Twilight level backlash on the obvious domestic violence/abusive relationship occurring before the reader's eyes in the novel without the author responding to it within the story. I began to wonder if I should stop reading when Jayla called attention to the issue herself. That's when the book turned into a better read for me. Not only did the novel present the limited resources and several legal issues that a person in Jayla's position could endure, it threw a spotlight on the fact that anyone anywhere can be involved such a relationship.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. No, I didn't enjoy a few of the characters, but that's okay because they weren't written to be liked. I could see the signs of an abusive relationship and kept hoping that Jayla would as well. When she finally got it, I wanted to cheer. The evidence that the author did her homework on the issues and procedures that many transgenders have to go through was plain to see from the beginning of the book. When I first met Jayla, I didn't know she was a transgender woman. I thought the book was about two young cisgender women who fall in love and then all hell broke loose. I'm happy to have read this book because it did open my eyes to a number of different things. Though I'm still learning, it was place to start. If you're looking for a mysterious love story that keeps those pages turning, then this is the novel you to put on your TBR pile.

Maxine Wore Black by Nora Olsen is currently available at many online retailers and local bookstores. It can be purchased in either paperback or digital formats including Kindle. The link below will bring up the book's page at Amazon.
Maxine Wore Black by Nora Olsen


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