Review of ‘Speak its name’ by Kathleen Jowitt.

‘Speak its name’ follow a couple of years in the campus life of Lydia, an English undergraduate student at the fictional University of Stancester in England. Lydia is as an Evangelical Christian struggling with her own sexuality. As a practising Christian, can she still feel welcome in her church if she comes out as a lesbian?

This novel present two main themes. One is the relationship – often more political than religious – between different Christian churches in university life. The other is the personal struggle of Lydia who wants to be accepted as both a Christian and a lesbian by her church and her family and friends. The story gives an interesting insight into the core of beliefs of the different Christian churches such as Roman Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical, among others. It shows what they have in common and mostly what they disagree with and how their own religions’ teaching of loving each other usually develops into bigotry and intolerance. This is not an easy read, sometimes the book takes the shape of a non-fictional essay about church politics in the context of a university campus. At moments for me it felt longer than necessary. However, it’s well written and informative for an outsider. Regarding the main character’s story, Lydia is a believable and lovable young woman struggling with accepting her sexuality first, and then fighting for acceptance in her religious group and family. Any queer reader, religious or not, can relate to her identity struggle. Far from being a romance, her relationship with her girlfriend Colette is one of support and redemption, a companion in the hardships of life. ‘Speak its name’ is a book about love in all its forms and shapes and a call for more tolerance and acceptance of minorities specially in a religious context.

Overall, a well written book recommended if you are interested in religion and sexual identity. 4 stars.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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