Review of ‘You Know I’d Never’ by Kara Lowndes
I thought we were past the time when coming out was the whole story. I guess maybe we’re not, or not all of us are.
Janey is drowning in (mostly polite) homophobia and guilt for not being brave enough to fight it and stand for herself. For some reason – because she’s not ready? because it comes from her parents? because it’s insidious? – she can’t find a way out and it seems to have seeped in every layer of her life, even as her first love, Elise, manages not only to be out and proud but also to live her dreams. When Elise’s band comes to town for a series of concerts, Janey tries to ignore the fact that the only woman she ever loved is within reach for the first time in years.
This novella is told in first person from Janey’s point of view so get prepared for a fairly high level of self-loathing. You’ll also get to live the feeling of relief and freedom through her eyes, so there’s that. And you know, I like the idea that coming out of the closet is something you do for yourself, but sometimes, being in love is the little push you need to feel strong enough to do it. In Janey’s case, it’s even more than that. She tried and failed. She has given up on herself, she doesn’t think she’s worth the effort, or deserves to be happy or whatever. When she finally succeeds, she’s not doing it for Elise but she couldn’t have done it without Elise.
I liked Janey and Elise together, I liked Elise a lot, and I would probably like post-coming-out Janey too. I I wish there had been more to the story than the hell of the closet and the journey to coming out. With more body, this novella could have become a more exciting novel with characters whose personality went further than being out or not.