Difatta, Peter. “Finding Pluck”, Pembroke Publications, LLC, 2015.
The Heart of Prejudice
Let me start by saying that “Finding Pluck: won this year’s William Faulkner Literary Award and this is reason enough to read this wonderful look at growing up and coming of age. Set in North Carolina in 1955, the novel introduces us to Taylor Hanes who wants to escape his small town and is able to do so by winning a full Gay and Lesbian Equality Scholarship to the sate university. There is just one problem—Taylor is straight. (Nice to hear that being straight is a problem). Taylor lied on the application blank and then he discovered the intolerance of his town and he also wakes up the anger of the dead benefactor that endowed the grant and who has returned to haunt him.
When he gets to school, he finds the hauntings continuing and gets together with a group of friends who investigate why this benefactor is such an unsettled spirit. Aside from his studies, Taylor is also forced to carry out duties related to his scholarship. These requirements help him to understand the origins and human cost of prejudice yet they also make him want to find answers about this spirit that does not leave him alone. He really wants to help him crossover to where he should be.
The movie moves between the present and 1927 when the benefactor was in college—the Jazz Age, a time characterized by great change and moral conflict. We see those in the present finding parallels in the past and real examples of the culture of prejudice. We realize that there was and still is distrust and fear of each other’s differences.
“Finding Pluck” is part mystery and part social commentary as well as a fascinating read. Courage is the theme and history “reflects the hardship, discrimination, and censorship of individuals in gay relationships”. Author Difatta uses his characters to explore these issues and it works . We, today, live in a world where accountability is important. The novel takes a look at societal mores and answers questions about friendship.