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Rerun: Daughtridge on Gardner & Hopes

Saturday Review: “Always Timely, No Matter The Time” a review by Ashley Daughtridge in NCLR Online 2021.
Kati Gardner. Brave Enough (2018)
David Brendan Hopes. The Falls of Wyona: A Novel (2019)

Over the summer, we’re sharing some reruns of older book reviews.

Daughtridge starts the review stating, “Though taking place over half a century apart, both Kati Gardner‘s Brave Enough and David Brendan Hopes‘s The Falls of Wyona upend prejudicial stigmas related to current social issues: in Gardner’s novel the opioid crisis and ableism, and in Hopes’s novel, homophobia, sexism, and suicide in the Bible Belt.”

Gardner’s teenage love story is about childhood cancer survivors, something not read about often. Daughtridge informs us the choice is biographical (although the story is not autobiographical). Seeing one’s story reflected in literature is important to self-actualization. She reminds us, “Though no two addicts or childhood cancer survivors’ stories are identical, accurate representations of commonly shared experiences for both groups are crucial for inclusivity. As a young cancer survivor and amputee, Gardner sought a novel that accurately portrayed the experiences of a character with childhood cancer and an amputation.”

The same holds true even or maybe especially when characters are out of present time. “By portraying the difficulties of navigating homosexuality in the Bible Belt and the consequences of rejecting otherness,” writes Daughtridge, “Hopes reminds readers how far our society still has to go to evolve in the name of social justice.” Whether the gay kids or the veterans returning from WWII, someone needs compassion and understanding in this novel, and today. Literature serves to remind us to continue the work of accepting and including those different from ourselves.

And another reminder: both of these books relate to our upcoming issues features. The 2024 issue will feature “Disability (in) NC Literature” and is still open for submissions, primarily essays about or interviews with authors (Gardner herself, perhaps?). The 2025 issue will feature “NC LGBTQ+ Literature”; that submission window will open next year so you have plenty of time to find new and old voices and stories to share. All submission information can be found on our website here.

Read the rest of the review in the ’21 Online issue.