Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bend by Nancy J. Hedin

Lorraine Tyler is the only queer person in Bend, Minnesota. Or at least that’s what it feels like when the local church preaches so sternly against homosexuality. Which is why she’s fighting so hard to win the McGerber scholarship — her ticket out of Bend — even though her biggest competition is her twin sister, Becky. And even though she’s got no real hope — not with the scholarship’s morality clause and that one time she kissed the preacher’s daughter.

Everything changes when a new girl comes to town. Charity is mysterious, passionate, and — to Lorraine’s delighted surprise — queer too. Now Lorraine may have a chance at freedom and real love.

But then Becky disappears, and Lorraine uncovers an old, painful secret that could tear the family apart. They need each other more than ever now, and somehow it’s Lorraine — the sinner, the black sheep — who holds the power to bring them together. But only if she herself can learn to bend.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3.5 stars

Lorraine Tyler’s voice is wonderfully original. She is fierce, sarcastic, and trapped in a small town life that she just can’t make herself fit into. I loved her passion, her intelligence, and her frustration.

Lorraine’s existence in Bend feels incredibly dated – or maybe time just stands still in small towns. And Bend is a small town horror show. The only scholarship out has a morality clause. The town’s evangelical preacher has a terrifying grip on the women in Lorraine’s family and marriage to a pig farmer at 17 is a teenage girl’s dream come true. As a lesbian, Lorraine is an outsider, desperate to leave, and increasingly trapped by poverty and complicated circumstances.

As the story unravels, it soon becomes clear that Lorraine is probably the most straightforward character in her town. This story moves slowly and characters are revealed in pieces. From family members to neighbours to husbands, everyone in Bend has a complicated history and when Lorraine’s family starts to fall apart, suspicion and blame fall on everyone.

I loved Lorraine, I enjoyed the setting and the wonderful details of rural life, and I appreciated the atmospheric tension that runs through this book. However, I struggled with the many confusing plot strands in the story. By the end of the book, there is just too much going on. Some of the character development feels really inconsistent. I found Lorraine’s mother’s story difficult to accept and Becky and Charity’s story didn’t always ring true.

Nancy Hedin completed her MFA at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her work has been published in Sleet Magazine, The Minnesota Women’s Press, The Lake Country Journal, The Phoenix, The Midway/Como Monitor, and Rock, Paper, Scissors. She has been a pastor, a bartender, and a stand-up comic, and currently works as a crisis social worker. She lives in St. Paul, with her wife and daughters.

Connect with Nancy

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Bend by Nancy J. Hedin to read and review.

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