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Scissors, Paper, Stone, by Martha Davis.

December 27, 2017

Scissors, Paper, StoneScissors, Paper, Stone, by Martha Davis.  Red Hen Press, 2018.

Forthcoming.

4 stars

A sensitive story of three women: a Korean daughter, her white adopting mother, and her best white childhood friend, are pulled together and torn apart by different understandings of race and lesbian identity.

Martha K. Davis lives in San Diego where she is a writer and a teacher.  Her essays and short stories have appeared in several lesbian journals.

In this novel, Davis tells the story of Min, adopted as an infant in the 1960s by Catherine and Jonathan, despite the complicated disapproval of Catherine’s family. Davis traces Min through childhood, loved in her family but with only one close friend, Laura. Catherine truly believes that “ignoring her race could make her white,” an assumption that comes to alienate Min. When the girls are in their early 20s, Min has defined herself as a lesbian and the three women must renegotiate their relations to each other around sexual choices and race.

Davis does a fine job of addressing the complexities of lesbian life.  She writes about women’s relationships with each other within the lesbian community and between lesbians and non-lesbians. She does so with a certain subtlety that can help readers grasp what often goes unnoticed. She shows a real talent for dealing sympathetically with all sides of conflict.  The variety among lesbians is clearly revealed as well as how racism divides individuals. My only complaint is that I was bored with all the long explicitly sexual sections.

I strongly recommend this book, especially for those of us who are not lesbians and want to understand other women’s lives.

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