Sunday, February 26, 2012

For Me and My Gal by Robbi McCoy

Publisher:       Bella Books

"It was very hard to be a lesbian back then.  You had to lead a double life, a life full of lies and hypocrisy.... It seemed easier.  There was so much secrecy and shame too.  I know we're all proud now, but you can't really be proud in a climate like that.  I mean, you kept it to yourself.  You had to...."

Those are the words from a journal that will set Gwen Lawford on a journey of discovery and bring love into her life.  They are also words that should be remembered by lesbians today.

Gwen and Shelby Pratt are going to discover that their lives are entwined in more than one way.  Gwen is the director of a naval museum on San Francisco Bay and first meets Shelby when she unintentionally gets Shelby fired from her waitressing job.  After making amends for that, the women become friends.  When Gwen finds the journal of a Navy WAVE written in World War II, she and Shelby begin to unravel the mystery of who the woman was.  Shelby is in for a surprise she never expects, beside the fact that she's falling in love with Gwen.

This is a romance, both old and new, but the real story is about women during the war.  McCoy does an excellent job of showing how the war changed the lives of women, the jobs they were allowed to hold, the change of their positions in households and the expectations they held for themselves.  World War II would alter many people's ideas about the possibilities for various minorities in the United States and McCoy shows how women tried to cope with those changing beliefs.  Then she runs that plot simultaneously with one about lesbians in the military and how they were forced to hide an important part of themselves.  By bringing the story into current time, she makes a nice contrast with the period now following the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

The problem with history is that it is so easy to forget.  If something is not going on at that very moment, it tends to be shoved to the side and forgotten.  People who live in the present have a tendency not to understand how different or difficult things were before them and to judge things only by what they have experienced.  Many women today do not realize that women were ever segregated into their own units in the military.  Books like For Me and My Gal remind us of where we came from and how we got here.  That is an important service in giving the reader a chance to reflect and think.

For Me and My Gal has two romances, a bit of history and current topics.  Robbi McCoy is a masterful writer and she delivers more than one great story in this book.  The reader can feel confident in buying it and know that she's going to have a satisfying experience.

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