Title: A Return to Arms
Author Name & Publisher: Sheree L. Greer (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: March 15, 2016 – 240 pgs
When Toya meets Folami and joins the activist collective RiseUP!, she thinks she’s found her life’s purpose. Folami’s sensuality and her passion for social justice leave Toya feeling that, at last, she’s met someone she can share all parts of her life with. But when a controversial police shooting blurs the lines between the personal and the political, Toya is forced to examine her identity, her passions, and her allegiances.
Folami, a mature and dedicated activist, challenges Toya’s commitment to the struggle while threatening to pull her back into the closet to maintain the intense connection they share. How ever, Nina, a young, free-spirited artist, invites Toya to explore the intersections between sexual and political freedom.
With the mounting tensions and social unrest threatening to tear the community apart, can Toya find a safe place to live and love while working to uplift her people?
First of all can I say as a reviewer this novel evoked so many feelings and stirred up so many emotions in me. I also had difficulty in identifying the genre, of this book, I don’t think it is just a book for lesbians or those sympathetic to lesbians. My first reaction was this subject was so important, essential and consequential that I felt a fictitious novel could not do it justice. After reading it I realised that perhaps something of this importance might reach more people than say a documentary.
Based on absolute fact this novel is as devastatingly honest as it was hard to believe. Hard to believe that certain people have to suffer and be treated the way described not only by people who are there to uphold the law but by people like themselves.
The novel although graphically written does give a general understanding from where all sections of society are coming from, how they have reached their opinions and beliefs however difficult it might be for many to comprehend.
I did get frustrated with Folami’s relationship with Toya but was pleased when Ms Greer gave an explanation for the way she acted towards the end of the novel.
Ms Greer wrote a brilliantly expressive, and touching novel that gave an insight into the perception of how many of the protestors were feeling, the emotions were indeed palpable. At times I felt scared at other times angry at other times desolate, so many emotions were elicited from Ms Greer’s writings.
The ending of the book left a darkness that was difficult to express.
Although this review may give a very bleak appearance to this novel there are some very touching moments, and, moments of hope. It is not a book about sexuality, race or colour. I felt it was about how certain sections of society treat each other with no understanding of where the focus of their hate or lack of understanding originates from. This work is one I hope as many readers as possible will discover for themselves.
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A Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native, Sheree L. Greer has been published in Hair Trigger, The Windy City Times, Reservoir, Fictionary, The Windy City Queer Anthology: Dispatches from the Third Coast, and Best Lesbian Romance 2012. She has performed her work across selected venues in Milwaukee, New York, Miami, Chicago, and Tampa, where she hosts Oral Fixation, the only LGBTQ Open Mic series in Tampa Bay. She earned her MFA at Columbia College Chicago and currently teaches writing and literature at St. Petersburg College. Sheree, an Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund grantee, completed a VONA residency at University of Miami and self-published a short story collection, Once and Future Lovers.
While her obsessions constantly rotate and evolve, Sheree has an undying love for hot sauces, red wines, and crunchy tacos. She plays less-than-mediocre electric guitar but makes nearly-perfect guacamole.
Author’s GoodReads Page