Martin, Marianne K. “Kickin’ Rocks”, Bywater Books, 2019.
I have friends who are worriers. They worry from the time they get out of bed until they get back in bed and worrying seems to be an integral. In “Kickin Rocks”, the new novel by Marianne Martin we meet Jada Baker, a woman who seems to have been born to worry. She worries about everything and everyone and while some of her worries are very real (her mom, her job), she also worries about things over which she has no control (abused animals, and the state of affairs of her country). Yet Jada is also an optimist who believes that everything will turn out fine. She knows that there is someone, somewhere who will capture her heart and they will live happily ever after while good overtakes evil in the world. Jada’s worries about abused animals lead her to meeting Amie Luca, a veterinarian who helps abused animals and she is immediately smitten and believes that this is the love she has been waiting and hoping for.
Up until now, it all seems too easy and the happiness and hatred that the two women share is threatened by hatred and homophobia. They have to face hate that they have never known. Not knowing what to do or how to react, they turn to Dusty Logan, a friend who has dealt with this before as she fought for women’s rights and nurtured victims of the AIDS epidemic. She is a gay rights activist who believes that women have the right to love other women and men have the right to love other men. But Dusty has worked hard and is tired. When she sees Jada and Amie, that old spirit is awakened in her and she comes back to the old fight. While the women face a new kind of discrimination, we see that hate never really changes making Dusty determined that Amie and Jada deserve to be happy.
I keep reminding my younger friends here that although it has indeed gotten so much better for the LGBTQ community, that we cannot let down her guard and there is still a good deal to fight for. I get tired sometimes but it is also our responsibility to share what we experiences with others, especially in the LGBTQ community. Any of us who went through the struggle for our liberation knows what it takes to fight for right and this must be shared with others. We grow because we learn to grow by those who came before us.
In thinking about classifying “Kickin’ Rocks”, I must say that this a different kind of LGBTQ read in that it is a romance about activism. When our characters come out, they do so at events— “at demonstrations, in the courtroom, in lesbian bars, and in confrontations with non-gay families.” The abuse that so many animals shared is seen here as shared by the people of our community but that is finally changing. Martin paints “a family portrait of gay women, men, and our beloved animals as we are.”
I believe that all of us demoralized by the governance of this country now which at times feels unbelievable. Yet we have not yet taken the action we need to take. Many of are so demoralized that we can think of little else. Reading this, I was reminded that because of a bit of setback, we can once again more forward and I believe that we will. Stop and think about how you dealt with the past when you were part of it and then think about where you are now.
Dusty had been there and done that; she was an older lesbian who has been through the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the fight for Roe v Wade, for the Equal Rights Amendment, AIDS funding. She has now retired to the country and spends her time rescuing strays and fostering animals until they get adopted. From Dusty, Jada and Amie learn that there is a fight to be fought but it took a confrontation with the same, tired old bigotry that they thought was over. History, we know, repeats itself and we must be ready each time.
Thank you Marianne Martin for reminding us of what we need to know.