The Queering

The Life and Death of Brooke Skipstone

Fiction - LGBTQ
344 Pages
Reviewed on 11/04/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers' Favorite

The Queering: The Life and Death of Brooke Skipstone by Brooke Skipstone, is a lesbian romance novel written for young adults. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Taylor MacKenzie is a seventy-year-old grandmother, teacher, and writer who lives in Clear, Alaska. A closet lesbian, she finds happiness by writing lesbian and gay romance novels using Brooke Skipstone as a pen name. The name belongs to her late lover and best friend in college. Eager to reveal herself now as a writer of these novels and hoping for acceptance, she writes her autobiography focusing on her time with Brooke. Her husband Marshall accuses her of promoting a perverse lifestyle, and Levi, a local homophobic podcaster, exposes her identity to their conservative community. Her past also catches up with her as her homicidal brother, who just got out of prison, tries to locate her. Can she finally find the freedom and acceptance denied to her for such a long time?

Brooke Skipstone’s The Queering is a passionate romance novel with a strong gay theme. The author weaves together an intricate tapestry with several compelling characters forced to hide their true sexuality. This narrative has many unexpected twists and turns that will ensure the reader’s undivided attention. It’s an inspiring and unique story that pays tribute to gay love. When Taylor MacKenzie decided to write her autobiography, she was also trying to override the prejudices of society and that was a difficult and dangerous task. There is tension from the novel’s first page, and it’s palpable up to the end. With engaging dialogue and vivid literary style, it’s easy to be caught up in the lives of the characters. This emotive story about identity, friendship, and genuine love is beautifully written.

Pikasho Deka

The Queering: The Life and Death of Brooke Skipstone is a young adult drama novel by Brooke Skipstone. Taylor MacKenzie has spent the better part of her last forty years with a husband and grandchildren, hiding who she is as a woman while working as a substitute teacher in the small town of Clear in Alaska. Unbeknown to others, she pens lesbian romance novels under the pseudonym Brooke Skipstone. She finally confides her secret to a young woman named Grace. Through Taylor's book, Grace and her girlfriend Maddi learn about Taylor and her tragic past with her college lover Brooke Skipstone. Meanwhile, Grace's abusive and extreme right-wing father Levi is a hateful bigot who spreads terrible lies concerning Taylor and his daughter. With Taylor's murderous brother out of prison seeking revenge and joining Levi, will Taylor and her friends ever be able to live and love freely?

Brooke Skipstone demonstrates perfectly how blind hatred, bigotry, and homophobia are rampant in small towns across America and how privileged individuals in positions of power often feel threatened whenever someone goes against the status quo. The Queering is filled with romance, drama, and suspense and highlights some relevant issues faced by members of the LGBTQ community. The narrative sheds light on the discrimination faced by queer folk from the conservative faction of society nowadays, where they are often demonized as a bad influence. The characters are portrayed vividly and pop off the pages with their vibrant personalities. Taylor, Grace, Maddi, and Shannon's camaraderie feels genuine, and I found their friendship to be my favorite aspect of the book. Highly recommended.

K.C. Finn

The Queering: The Life and Death of Brooke Skipstone is a work of romance, adventure, and interpersonal drama. It is best suited to mature young adults and adult readers owing to the use of explicit language throughout as well as some sexual situations and moderate violence. Penned by Brooke Skipstone, the story follows a seventy-year-old protagonist, Taylor MacKenzie, whose pen-name in her lesbian romance novels is named after her lover from many moons ago. As Taylor tries to reveal her work to the world, a homophobic local podcaster tries to bring her down, and her homicidal brother casts a damning shadow that fills Taylor with foreboding.

As a fan of LBTQIA+ fiction in general, it was thrilling to see such an original story and a new take that includes queer themes in a powerful way, but never makes them a gimmick or the butt of a joke. It was also highly original to see an older protagonist and flashes of times gone by, showcasing a whole host of different attitudes to queer issues then and now, and how, unfortunately, some people haven’t really progressed in their thinking at all. Brooke Skipstone offers much in the way of relatable content for readers of all ages, not least through entertaining and accessible dialogue as well as relevant mature content that offers an opportunity for young adult readers to learn about more mature issues without it being sensationalized. I highly recommend The Queering to fans of LGBTQIA+ fiction as well as YA readers seeking something new and emotionally diverse to explore.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

The Queering: The Life and Death of Brooke Skipstone is a young adult romance by Brooke Skipstone. Taylor Baird MacKenzie is a seventy-year-old grandmother and a substitute teacher who has been writing lesbian romance novels. After the heartbreaking loss of Brooke Skipstone, her friend and lover in her youth, Taylor was pressured into a straight marriage. Decades later, she decides to write about her most fulfilling romance, but she isn’t emboldened enough to put her name on the work, electing to use the name of her past lover as her pseudonym. Taylor befriends an eighteen-year-old student, Grace, who is having trouble showing her feelings in public, and she reads Taylor’s newest work-in-progress about the real Brooke Skipstone and her tragic death. Fear of her homicidal brother has prompted Taylor to complete her newest project, and she hopes to share her true feelings with those closest to her before her brother makes good on his promise to kill her.

Once in a while, readers will find stories where the author hasn’t been afraid to discuss real-life situations and the social conflict in certain parts of the world. This novel is one of them. From homosexuality to COVID, Brooke Skipstone explores the heart-breaking reality of families divided politically and emotionally. Whether they identify with the LGBTQ+ community or they support them, readers may feel The Queering is a validation of their thoughts and feelings, with the detailed dialog outlining the differing perspectives. The militant opinions are terrifying and recognizable, and the victims of the clashes will remain in the minds and hearts of readers long after the last page is read. Brooke Skipstone keeps her readers engaged with explosive dialog and believable characters. This is a good book for mature readers who want to burst through gentle allusions and safe references and dive into the realities that the gay community faces.