Book Review: ‘Another F-Word’ a compelling page-turner
Lissa Brown’s latest novel, “Another F-Word,” is a cautionary
tale about the pain and consequences of bullying in our schools, which negatively affects everyone
This is a must-read for any parent whose child is or has been the victim of bullying. It is a book all parents may want to read if they care about understanding this grievous practice in our public and private schools and the long-term effects this kind of abuse has not only on the victim, but on the abuser himself.
The message of “Another F-Word’ is one that has taken its time in percolating to the surface of our nation’s consciousness and is long overdue.
The story begins with a 6-year-old boy, Rory, having dinner with his grandparents. The dinner is disrupted by the anguished question of the young boy, “What’s a faggot, Papaw?” He had overheard his father telling his mother he “wouldn’t live with a faggot in the house.”
So begins a child’s first understanding that he is different from most children, so different he is concerned his father is going to leave their family. His young mind cannot comprehend the reason. He doesn’t understand he isn’t supposed to like playing with dolls and growing flowers in the garden. He’s supposed to like sports, which he has no interest in at all.
Through his formative years, Rory’s self-esteem is systematically undermined by a disapproving father. He begins to feel unworthy and learns to put on a veneer of masculinity to win his father’s approval. Though his mother and grandparents give him love and support, Rory is made increasingly aware of his father’s disdain for his feminine characteristics, and the little boy aches from the withdrawal of his father’s love. Even his best friend, Ashley, insists one day that he prove he is not a girl.
“Another F-Word” delves into the many layers of this complicated issue. We witness the struggle of a mother as she realizes her son has tendencies that are not in keeping with society’s idea of what a boy should be. She fears for her child as he is rejected by his father and pushed around by his peers.
She confronts school administrators as they turn a blind eye to what is going on, though they are required by law to protect him. She finds herself telling lies to her husband for the first time in her marriage to protect her son. She searches the Internet for clues to determine if her son is gay and what, if anything, she can do about it.
By the time Rory reaches the sixth grade, he is routinely ridiculed and even physically attacked by his classmates. The school administrators are unsupportive, and he is even referred to as an abomination in his own church. None of the adults who are supposed to protect him are available to a child struggling with his own sexual identity. When he finally meets a boy with whom he can relate, the bullying takes on tragic dimensions.
The impetus for “Another F-Word” was a bumper sticker that author Lissa Brown saw on the back of a pick-up truck in Boone, which read “Santa Hates Jewish Kids.”
“I tried to imagine being a 7- or 8-year-old Jewish kid, sitting in a car or walking down the street, and I see this,” she said. “How is that going to make me feel?”
So, she decided she would write a book about discrimination and bullying, choosing a gay boy as her protagonist.
“Another F-Word” is a fast-paced page-turner with twists, which will take your breath away. It is a realistic portrayal of the struggles of a boy and of a family and a rural community coming to terms with the emerging sexuality of one of its most vulnerable citizens.
This is a book that may compel the reader to reconsider one’s own position on homosexuality — and whether it is moral to condemn a child for following his natural inclinations. You may find yourself asking how can a moral society view any child as an abomination.
About the Author
Lissa Brown has had a diverse career in writing as a columnist, speechwriter, a ghostwriter for elected officials and company executives and a media relations specialist for gubernatorial and state legislative campaigns. She has also had successful careers in teaching, public relations and marketing.
Upon retiring to the mountains of North Carolina, she wrote “Real Country: From the Fast Track to Appalachia” under the pen name, Leslie Brunetsky, and her first novel, “Family Secrets-Three Generations,” under her own name. “Another F-Word” is her second novel and can be purchased at Amazon.com in both paperback and eBook formats.
Currently, Brown is an active speaker in church groups, youth groups, groups of school counselors, social workers and college students. She is available to speak to just about any group desiring her to talk on the subject of bullying kids and particularly on the subject of bullying lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids, who, she said, are targeted for bullying far more than any other group — second only to kids with disabilities.
“This is a passion for me,” Brown said. “I feel very strongly about people doing things to hurt kids, particularly when it ends up with kids killing themselves. I just feel like I need to do this.”
She can be contacted for speaking engagements at http://www.lissabrownwrites.com.