A Time To Speak by Riley Scott is a story of this time and will have a lot of meaning for many readers. This is a smalltown story and the emotions and sentiments that are played out here are brought to the fore with the current political climate. Whilst this is smalltown USA, it could be pertinent to many places in the world. It is also a coming out story and a story that perhaps can give us hope for the future with younger people dealing with their inner feelings. It is about the continuing fight for equality, which is still being fought person by person and led by courageous men and women who are not giving up.
Amelia (Amy) Brandt is a part-time lesbian, very much in the closet and owner of the coffee shop in Knell, Texas. Knell is a small town with a narrow-minded population and Amelia has been brought up to understand that being gay is dirty.
Her part-time lover, Chloe Stanton, is the only publicly known lesbian resident in the town. Chloe is a ranch hand on her father’s farm and is found murdered in her home.
The rest of the story is about the journey Amelia makes to accept who she is, set against the backdrop of hatred, ignorance and discrimination, and a murder investigation.
Amelia bakes and cooks her way through the beginning of the story, where she is closed off emotionally, and conducts her relationship as a part-time lesbian under strict conditions. As she begins her journey we see her start to take ownership of her feelings, perhaps signified by her taking the name Amy, as she deals with her grief and her realization as to who she is.
Dominique Vasquez is a lesbian of Mexican descent and proud to be a minority in an area that is “white, hetero and country”. She runs her own non-profit organization, Texans For Equality, in safety in Austin and comes to Knell to try to help it deal with its problems, knowing that she will stick out, but being determined to wipe out discrimination.
There are, in addition, a number of well described characters including Chloe’s father, Amy’s parents, the local bartender Louie, and the Sheriff, Wes Mitchell.
The Writing Style
The book is written in the third person, changing characters as the story draws you forward. It really works as you see the unfolding emotions from the point of view of the different people in the story. One moment we are with Chloe’s father on his farm dealing with his grief, and then we are with Amy trying to work out how to deal with her feelings for Chloe.
I really liked the tone of the book. It would be too easy to have created a dark story of inner turmoil and grief, with negative emotions and a violent display of ignorance and discrimination. Riley Scott however, tells the story with almost a confidence that, even if it is only possible to win the fight with one person, then that one person is important.
This story is about both an internal struggle for someone to admit to feelings that they have, and an external struggle to deal with feelings from a community that are almost the opposite. Once the external struggle has removed the barriers, then that inner struggle becomes easier. That is really well reflected in this story.
I liked that the story could seem an easy read, not requiring much thought and there is much sweetness and romance, and I suspect some people will read it that way. I however, loved that it made me think and consider the whole thing in the wider context.
Whilst I really enjoyed the book, there were few surprises. I know the story was more about how a small US town deals with something like a lesbian murder, but I would have liked something unexpected here and there.
I really liked this book. It is a must read in the current political climate, particularly if you are city dwellers and don’t come into contact with small towns
Excerpt from A Time To Speak by Riley Scott
“Hello,” she said, her words tumbling out at rapid fire pace. “Is this Dominique? I met you at the coffee shop. This is Amelia—Amy—from Amy’s Place.”
“Hi Amelia…or do you prefer Amy?”
“Um…” She paused. No one had actually ever asked her that question. Whether she needed to turn over a new leaf or needed some sort of separation from her identity, she answered boldly. “You can call me Amy.”
“Well it’s nice to hear from you, Amy.” Dominique’s tone was so even and peaceful. Amelia felt her breathing return to a semi-normal pace. “I was hoping you’d call. What can I do for you?”
What could she do? Amelia could list a million things, but none of them were truly plausible. “What if you just tell me what it is you can do? That way I can figure it out. I don’t actually know what to say or what it is that I need.”
“I can listen,” Dominique said. “We can talk about things. I can meet up with you and we can sit together in person if you’d like. I can help you sort out what you might be feeling. If you have a different approach and want to look at things based in the work my organization does, we can look at those options. It all depends on what it is you prefer.”
“Okay.” Amelia let out a sigh. “I honestly don’t know what to talk about. I guess I somehow stupidly hoped you had some kind of magic cure.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781594935565
- Publisher: Bella Books Inc.
Riley Scott Online
Note: I received a free review copy of A Time To Speak by Riley Scott. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.