Out On The Panhandle by RE Bradshaw
A joyful celebration of life, love, family, and the old and new West.
By Review by The Bookgeek
Lambda Award finalist RE Bradshaw gives us two love stories wrapped into one book. There is the story of Charlie, who brings her girlfriend Decky, the beachcomber from North Carolina, to the big family reunion out on the panhandle of Oklahoma. Entwined in this story, which is brimming with joy and music, there is a gripping "herstory" of love and loss set in the Old West.
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What happens if a forty-something Oklahoma lesbian, one who thinks she is not out to her family because they “just don’t talk about it,” brings her very out girlfriend to the grand family reunion?
Well, though the fundamentalists rally, blood is stronger then prejudice and the family shows its true strength. The reader is in for a wild ride meeting unforgettable characters, experiencing life on the ranch and a big cow chip throwing contest (no less!). I loved most how music plays a big part in this book and makes it a rather special celebration of love, family, and the rhythm and melodies that hold them together. RE Bradshaw wields again her magic and brings to life the scenery, music, and those amazing characters. The historical angle comes into play with a box of old papers and gives us a fascinating glimpse into a romance set in the last days of the Native American tribes’ free reign
over the prairie. I liked how the "family secret" of old is woven into the present day story.
The women of the past, Merdy and Grace, touched my heart in a very special way and made me believe, believe in love that never ends. The historical background of early pioneers and Native Americans is very well researched and blended effortlessly into the main story, with a lot of respect towards both parties. This historical strand adds a more serious layer to the story and makes what would otherwise be a fun romp into the present-day Mid-West into a solid read. To use RE Bradshaw's own words: “The resulting novel combines the issues confronting the modern LGBT community with the challenges faced by a young woman born in 1860, a two spirit with an unforgettable story to tell.”
Though a sequel to Out On The Sound this wonderful, heartwarming story can be well read as a stand-alone. It is another book on my shelf named “comfort food for the soul.”