Review of ‘Kickin’ Rocks’ by Marianne K. Martin
This novel has, for the most part, two stories within it. The first part of the book seems to focus on Jada Baker, a FedEx employee based in Michigan, 2017. Jada’s life has hit a plateau and it takes an animal rescue to connect her with Dr. Amie Luca, a local veterinarian. The second story revolves around Dusty Logan and Ali Nichols and their struggles with discrimination and their role in civil rights starting in 1966.
The chapters alternate to a certain degree between stories until it stays in the present. It becomes obvious the Dusty involved in the animal rescues is the same Dusty as the woman in the past story. The author moves the past story along until Dusty’s current situation is explained. That was nice to see unfold.
The beginning of the book is a series of little snapshots of Jada’s life to establish her passion for animals and her brushes with animal cruelty. The pauses within the chapter interrupted the flow of the story and took me longer to get into it. I have to say that was not the norm and the flow improved as the book went along.
This is a difficult lesbian historical fiction book to rate. There were some very important topics and this story certainly falls in the historical fiction category. The battle for civil rights and the impact of homosexuality in the seventies and eighties was interesting to see. As a younger generation, I am grateful for those that paved the way for equality and inclusion. The other monumental topic was political. And well, sadly, we are in a heated time in this country (and across the pond too for that matter), especially in terms of social issues. Ms. Martin managed to pull that one off without names but with clear reference to the 2018 election. There is a clear mention of the political atmosphere and how it affected Jada. I readily identified with the character and feel it is important nowadays to have such feelings acknowledged. Also, to see the HIV epidemic and the initial government response depicted was also powerful.
The two stories wrap up in the 2018 election but not before exploring animal abuse and the veterinary corporate world. These are topics that hit very close to home, but yet, I felt they occupied too much time and took away from the other established topics. For everything to end on the politics/civil rights side of things, it felt distracting. The one animal rescue brought conflict between the characters and although there was some resolution the relationship growth stalled and nothing else came from it except that they ended up together. In my opinion, these secondary topics should have been kept in the background and the time spent on developing romantic relationships as hinted in the book’s blurb.
As much as some parts of the book made me lose some focus, the historical part of the story compensates for it. It is impossible to deny the importance of such tales, especially in this day and age. 3.5 stars
ARC generously provided by Bywater Books in exchange for an honest review.