A young lesbian girl grows beyond fear to fearlessness as she comes of age in the ’60s amid religious, social, and legal barriers.
Carol Anderson grows up in a fundamentalist Christian home in the 60s, a time when being gay was in opposition to all social and religious mores and against the law in most states. Fearing the rejection of her parents, she hides the truth about her love orientation, creating emotional distance from them for years, as she desperately struggles to harness her powerful attractions to women while pursuing false efforts to be with men.
The watershed point in Carol’s journey comes when she returns to graduate school and discovers the feminist movement, which emboldens her sense of personal power and the freedom to love whom she chooses. But this sense of self-possession comes too late for honesty with her father. His unexpected death before she can tell him the truth brings the full cost of Carol’s secret crashing in compelling her to come out to her mother before it is too late.
Candid and poignant, You Can’t Buy Love Like That, reveals the complex invisible dynamics that arise for gay people who are forced to hide their true selves in order to survive and celebrates the hard-won rewards of finding one’s courageous heart and achieving self-acceptance and self-love.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult Audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 2 – PG
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was inspired to write this book to encourage people to live an authentic life, to believe in themselves and to trust that real friends will love them as they are. I also wanted to offer Christians a compassionate view of the impact of religious prejudice against gays – and for them to consider the harm they may be doing to others in the name of God.
Excerpt – Chapter 5 – Over My Head
After the first couple of weeks, everyone had settled in, and I grew accustomed to my new role, searching for ways to balance my responsibilities with my studies and my social life with Mike. Though most girls on my wing dropped in occasionally, only Nicky came to my room on a regular basis, most often in the evenings after dinner. At first we talked about the more mundane things at school, but soon we engaged in much deeper conversations, asking questions like “What is the purpose of life?” and “Where do we go when we die?” We would continue our dialogues during the day, taking long walks down by the railroad tracks across from North Campus, where we traipsed through the magical landscape of old tin cans, Coke bottles, and bits of trash folded into the weeds and wild flowers that sprouted up through the gravel between the ties.
Nicky would interrupt our conversations as we walked to share the names of different flowers, or stop abruptly to watch a toad or a garter snake peek out from the underbrush. Her ability to spot the movement of the smallest creatures inspired me to take greater notice of things in nature. As a biology major, she loved to explore the natural world; my major in sociology made me love to explore the human mind and emotions. These complementary interests led to conversations about the rights of animals and inquiries into which ones were smarter than people.
She was deeper than anyone I had met up to that point. Her questions were philosophical, her curiosity boundless—her desire to understand the world around her was compelling. Prior to our meeting, I had felt alone in thinking about the things we discussed and was hungry for this kind of conversation. Together, we created a space where we could be more fully ourselves than with anyone else, driven by an innocence and vulnerability that felt precious to me, even then.
One night she began a conversation with the question “What is love?”
I looked up and saw her face in a new way, noticing how beautiful her features were in the low light. I fixed my eyes on her hair, which hung over her right eye, and watched how she tossed her head and ran her fingers through it, pulling it behind her ear. It was a gesture I had seen many times before, but tonight it had a sensual quality. Her eyes were soft, her cheeks flushed. She fixed her gaze on mine, and we lingered longer than usual, neither wanting to look away. When my eyes did drop, I noticed the curve of her fingers as she smoothed the corner of a paper on my desk and how I wanted to take hold of her hand.
“What is love?” I repeated the question. She had a habit of striking matches while we talked and watching them burn. Just then, she lit one and held it in front of her face. We both watched the tiny fire in silence as it crept along the thin wooden stick till she blew it out just before it reached her fingers. It seemed like a metaphor for this moment. Something was on fire here for sure. Her gaze remained steady, and I imagined she asked that question for a reason—that it was possibly an invitation to talk about a feeling that was growing between us. The intensity enlivened and terrified me. I had thought about that question a lot before and wrote about love in my journals, but no one had ever asked me the question, and never a girl who was looking at me the way she was.
“I think love is a mystery. No one knows where it comes from, or why it ever leaves. It is more powerful than anything on earth, and yet we are totally dependent on someone else to give it to us.”
I stopped for a moment, picked up the matches, and struck one myself. We watched it glow as I went on. “You can’t create it or control it, and, while it is more valuable than anything else, you can’t buy it anywhere. It is given for free, and that is what makes it rare and precious.”
The fire had reached my fingers just as I finished my sentence, and I blew it out. My heart thumped in my chest, a metronome of warning, telegraphing memories from the past. Here it was again, this unbounded feeling of flying, this incessant desire to be closer, to fall into this invisible prism of light and color, to feel the touch of her hand on my skin.
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