Hold Your Light
Review is by Molly
Wayne Bien’s Hold Your Light is billed as a novel, work of fiction, and is dedicated to Bien’s friends whose lives have inspired this tale.
It is a narrative worth the read.
Rodney Albert Blake’s story begins in October 1955. He was seven days old. Rodney picks up the narrative a few years later as he tells of his house, his bedroom where he enjoys playing records and thinking of David and some of the other boys in his class. He does not yet realize that society is not particularly patient, kind or tolerant of either child or adult who deviates from the so called norm.
Rodney didn’t have much of a chance for normalcy, he was overweight, his parents were intolerant, his thoughts were not the so called norm. He preferred staying to himself, mainly in his own room where he listened to music his parents disliked and daydreamed of boys in his classroom, which when his parents realized they disliked even more.
A few bright spots were present in Rodney’s life, Sophie, his grandparents colored maid was a kindly soul, Grandfather, an artistic man was loving and horses helped to keep Rodney grounded and feeling that life was worth living. His growing awareness of his own body and his attraction to members of his own sex coupled with little understanding that societal mores were against either were soon going to cause Rodney much grief.
From a child living at home in an environment filled with rigid traditions Rodney came to understand that his parents could not fathom, or agree with his feelings; he was sent to a military boarding school and was not permitted to return home.
Rodney’s introduction to the boarding school came as he was taken to the resident psychiatrist, a Doctor Barnes who asked a point blank, - are you queer? - Followed with the notation that since Rodney admitted he likely was, the school would feel little need to protect him from fellow students.
Getting used to a southern accent and mannerisms, learning why being - queer - is so troubling to so many, and learning that his parents had effectively abandoned him to the school and whatever he might face, being sent back to his first military school as a boarder, renewing old friendship, meeting a horse who would help to change his life, meeting a teacher who would be part of the change of his life, moving from school to a farm, and papers from his parents releasing their custody of him are all a part of Rodney’s story.
Writer Bien has crafted an easy reading tale sure to appeal to youngsters who may be in search of their own gender identity. I can see a place for Hold Your Light on the counselor’s shelf, as well as in the public library and even in many progressive school libraries. I might venture that many, if not most of us do in fact know a Rodney or two, teachers face a wide range of youngsters as the years go by. I suspect that young gender troubled students have sat under the tutelage of many of us whether we choose to accept or believe so.
Hold Your Light is a well written, fast moving work having a few grammar or typo type problems which in no way detract or prevent enjoyment of the work.
Happy to recommend Wayne Bien’s Hold Your Light for the YA audience, middle to upper grade and high school students, counselors, and parents who may suspect their own child may have gender issues and do not know how to broach or talk to their child as well as any segment of readers who know little of gender issues and are willing to read with an open mind.
I plan to offer my own paperback copy to our school counselor where I think the work may well fit into a counseling program.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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