Red Clay Suzie

A Novel Inspired by True Events

Fiction - LGBTQ
352 Pages
Reviewed on 11/01/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Melanie Kennedy for Readers' Favorite

Red Clay Suzie: A Novel Inspired by True Events by Jeffrey Dale Lofton is a captivating story of an LGBTQ boy growing up in Georgia, USA. Growing up as “different” in the South, Philbet regales us with stories of his youth and family. He entertains us with his family’s strange dynamic and the games and shenanigans he used to get up to as a child. His love for his grandfather is evident as his memories and experiences with his grandfather mold him into the man he becomes. Philbet evokes great emotion in his stories as he reminisces on growing up in the 1960s in Southern USA. Despite having to hide part of himself for most of his life, Philbet is hopeful and, above all, loving. His story is one of triumph over adversity and a reminder to love yourself above all else.

Jeffrey Dale Lofton has written an incredibly compassionate tale of growing up in a time and place where it might have been difficult to be yourself. Red Clay Suzie is an exceptionally well-written story and I enjoyed every second of reading it. Some moments had me laughing out loud and one particular loss had me crying silent tears. It’s difficult for a story to evoke such strong emotions from people, but Lofton has written an extremely inspiring and thought-provoking book. I will cherish and always remember the tater rule from now on. As a novel inspired by true events, I would like to commend the author on writing a story based on his experiences growing up that might have been painful but certainly will help any LGBTQ youth feel that they aren’t alone.

Jessica Barbosa

Red Clay Suzie by Jeffrey Dale Lofton is a novel inspired by actual events. Philbet Lawson has been through his share of ups and downs. Like everyone else, he has his share of imperfections that he kept hidden from the outside world. Philbet has a fragile sense of self and it takes a lot of courage for him to show his vulnerability to Knox, a boy he loves. Showing someone a large part of yourself is always a big risk and Philbet learned this the hard way. Join him on his journey of self-discovery and healing.

Red Clay Suzie is a one-of-a-kind, first-person tale that delves deeply into Philbet Lawson’s life. This emotional coming-of-age story is based on real experiences by Jeffrey Dale Lofton. It tackles the life and insecurities of the young, gay, Philbet Lawson as he went through life with a deformity, all the while wondering if anyone would love him for everything that he was. Reading this book was an absolute eye-opener. It did not shy away from emotions and the bullying and disdain Philbet experienced throughout his life. Philbet had a poor self-image but I admired his courage to put himself out there again even though he had been hurt before. He experienced both veiled and outright insults. It broke him down but strengthened him too. He learned about love, both the good parts and the bad. Along the way, he found refuge in unexpected places.

The story was distinctive and brutally honest. It captured my attention from the outset and I found myself hooked the deeper I got into it. It offered many lessons I would not forget, such as how important it is to have loving guidance and support when you are hurt and how this can have a great impact on the person. There was sadness but also hope and strength. Philbet has my admiration for his gentle strength and his ability to rise again when things seemed down. Lofton is a master of his craft and he has left me with a story that will resonate for a long time. Spectacular work!

Manik Chaturmutha

Red Clay Suzie by Jeffrey Dale Lofton is a new-adult/adult crossover book that touches upon mental health, racism, and sexuality. The story takes place in rural Georgia and follows our protagonist Philbet, a boy living with his parents and brother, Adam. Through the innocent eyes of Philbet, the author paints a picture of the people around him, his grandparents, relatives, and his family, and also portrays the inner self of a young boy. The tale is told in vignettes from the protagonist's life. The novel is a coming-of-age story as Philbet tries to find a place for himself in a harsh world.

Red Clay Suzie is innocent and lyrically beautiful at the same time. Rural Georgia comes to life through the author's writing; the aroma of milkshakes, vintage cars, and mayonnaise oozes from the book and completely engulfs the reader. The naive voice of the narrator adds impact to the issues like toxic masculinity, physical disability, and discrimination. I like the deep exploration of Philbet's relationships with the people around him. It sharply depicts the social constructs of Georgia.

The book addresses the topics of both mental health and physical disability remarkably. Never do these issues feel awkward; they are gut-wrenchingly sad but gentle at the same time. The editing is perfect, and the story flows smoothly. Red Clay Suzie by Jeffrey Dale Lofton is a captivating story that reassures readers it is okay to be different. It is perfect for readers who like heartfelt coming-of-age stories that touch upon crucial social issues. I recommend it for its lyrical writing and strong storyline.