Thursday, August 18, 2011
Solving for X by Sandi Glauser
Casey Grainger is a famous television star who has been the darling of the public since she was a young teenager. She's still the lead in a top-rated show, but the viewing audience has been slipping away and she faces the possibility of cancellation. Casey knows that, as an actress on the verge of forty, she may have trouble finding roles, so the best action to take is to try and save the show.
Alexis "Lexie" Constantine is well known as a writer, a "script doctor," who can punch up story lines and bring excitement to programs that have been beginning to lag. When Lexie is brought in to write scripts for Casey, the women begin a friendship that slowly takes on a deeper meaning that presents difficulties for both of them. Casey hasn't been attracted to another woman before, but she begins to realize that her marriage to her late husband was more about friendship than passion. She has a connection to Lexie that she's never felt before and feels a sense of excitement around her that she's never experienced with a man. A lesbian relationship could ruin her career however and how would she explain it to her sons?
Lexie is also worried about her career, but she's more worried about her own emotions. Though she admitted her lesbianism years before, she doesn't announce it and has never told her family. She's kept a low profile in the lesbian community, though she has had lovers. Her biggest worry, she thinks, is that she's been hurt before and doesn't want to repeat that. To complicate matters, Casey's older son Michael develops an attraction for Lexie. He's sure that, in the proper relationship, she'll realize she never was a lesbian.
Casey and Lexie work their ways through complex feelings as the story develops. Casey has to decide what is more important to her, her career or her personal happiness. Lexie has to confront the possibility that the reason she hasn't found someone to share her life with is that she's been ashamed of being a lesbian. Both of them have to decide if the answers they seek are in each other.
Sandi Glauser has written an interesting book. The issue of a lesbian being ashamed of that status isn't one that is normally dealt with in the literature and it gives the story a depth and "real" feeling that is often missing. Many women can relate to those feelings of discovering who they are and not being sure they are comfortable with the discovery for numerous reasons. Lexie's scenes of self realization are some of the most powerful in the book.
Casey represents another issue, the woman who discovers late in life that she's been misinterpreting her own body's signals.
This is a story that is frequently heard, especially among older women today. It can be very confusing when you finally realize that you've never "fit in" because you don't want what society considers "normal."
Glauser doesn't gloss over these issues and easily dismiss them or solve them simply either. She has both women explore their issues in detail, including having them separate from each other for an extended period to do so. That also rings true. Sometimes you have to get away from the truth to see it clearly.
The interesting twist is when Glauser explores the relationship between Michael and Lexie, the feelings that evokes in Casey and particularly the fact that Lexie considers the possibility of it, at least briefly, as an answer to her own inner doubts. A nice part of the story is that Michael does not become the "heavy." He's not typical of the males who show up in many lesbian novels thinking they are the answer to every lesbian's dilemma and can solve their "problem." Michael sincerely cares for Lexie and wonders if she has really understood herself properly. His role in the book plays on her own doubts perfectly.
The reader should have no doubt that this is a novel AND a romance. The book is not preachy, nor revolutionary, but it does explore topics that aren't often addressed in lesbian literature and that makes it worth reading. This is a very promising novel and could indicate the arrival of a new talent in the field. The reader can only hope.