I just got the book Keeping You A Secret, by Julie Anne Peters. I've been itching to read it all week, and I finally bought it last night. As soon as I got back from the mall, I tore into it, and didn't put it down at all until I finished it. It took me 7 hours; by 2 in the morning I was so tired that I was probably read 2 words every 5 seconds. I remember checking the time; it was 12:46. When I finally closed the book, feeling both satisfied and empty at the same time (I wanted it to keep going on forveer), it was already 3 am. I hadn't stayed up so late in a few weeks, and I wasn't even that tired. It took me a long time to fall asleep. I kept thinking about that book, and about how it related to my own life.
I remember when I was in grade 8, when I was 13, I was in Toronto, in the Indigo bookstore at the Eaton's Centre. I glanced at this table upstairs, and it was piled with books. I picked one up, looke at the cover. two girls. Okay, whatever. Sisters, I must have assumed. Or good friends. I read the back. Something about an abbreviation... IMRU? I didn't get it. I read the first page and when I got the part where it mentions the triangle it all came together. It all hit the stupid, ignorant 13-year-old smack in the face. Like some messenger of Fate rapping at my closet door.
I slapped the book down. Lesbians, I thought bitterly. How disgusting.
I came out just this past summer. I had completely forgotten the book; I must have just shoved it out of my memory at the time I found it. I can be that way, really bad memory when I don't feel comfortable about something. I was on this site, browsign through forum topics, and read somehting about Julie Anne Peters. I clicked, just wondering what it was about. Then I saw the title. "Keeping You A Secret", along with her other various titles. My heart skipped a beat. It all came back to me, and I suddenly remembered what I had actually felt when I first stumbled upon the book. I didn't understand then. Didn't understand that nagging desire to read it. I heard the voice in my head, after I read the back, "IMRU". The voice said "Yes. I am." I just wasn't ready to listen yet.
I made it a plan. My next pay check would not only be for Christmas presents, but for this book. I made sure I'd have enough money; I set up a checklist and the maximum prices I was willing to pay for the gifts. I had to make sur eI had enough. I was going to buy this book, and I was going to read it fast.
I couldn't put it down. The words held me so tight, like a warm and reassuring hug, telling me I'm not alone, that everything is okay. I related to a few characters. Cece, Holland, even Leah. Other characters seemed to be created from the personalities of others in my life; it was like I was reading a parallel to my life.
Never before have I had this gratifying experince from reading a book. No. Not just a book. A contemporay bible for lesbians, gays, and straights alike. It may not be an academic novel you'd read in a university prep class. It may not feature insights to the core of life's purpose. It may not be an epic tale told for generations since the dawn of mankind. My brother -- damn him -- would treat this novel like a child's leisure story. I'd rate this book above the epic of Gilgamesh; merely on a personal level. It shook through me, affected me, much greater than any other book or movie ever has.
I guess the reason I was so fascinated was simply the way I saw my life reflected in every page. Sure, Holland and I may not have lived the same life, nor shared the same experiences. But the emotions, the process of coming out and falling in love; facing society with the truth, no matter how much you fear the reactions, it's all the same. It's what every one of us has to go through, whether it's as dramatic as Holland's story was, or as simple as saying, "I'm gay." "Oh, really?"
Kudos to Juile Anne Peters. I will be buying all of her books, and any other work of literature she comes out with. I hear she will be publishing a book of small stories about lesbians, in 2007. I'll be picking that up as soon as it hits the shelves.
I finally found a new favourite author; bye-bye Anne rice!