You Can't Buy Love Like That

You Can't Buy Love Like That

Growing Up Gay in the Sixties

Non-Fiction - Memoir
280 Pages
Reviewed on 10/12/2017
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

In her sensitive and poignant memoir, You Can't Buy Love Like That: Growing Up Gay in the Sixties, Carol E. Anderson bares her heart and soul to readers so beautifully and intelligently that even if you aren’t gay and weren’t born into a Fundamentalist Christian family in the sixties, you will be deeply moved. The reason you will be moved is because of the basic truths Anderson explores about the social, cultural and religious issues faced by so many of us, regardless of where we live or how we were raised.

What human being, regardless of what struggle with their faith they may have been facing, who has dared to question the teachings of their family’s religion, hasn’t at some point felt, as Anderson did when she recognized her gayness, that “To agree with the church was to defy my soul. To trust myself was to let go of the only God I knew. Either choice was a bad one.” In trying to be what her family and church deemed acceptable i.e. a “normal” female who would love and marry a male, she felt she was fighting a battle she couldn’t win: “The Church was Goliath, and I had no David within me." Anderson tried more than once to have a regular, loving relationship with men, even coming close to marriage. But she could never feel with a man what she felt with a woman i.e. an “emotional intimacy”. After finally finding and identifying with a group of women who weren’t raised in a similarly strict, religious environment, she began to accept that what she felt wasn’t so abnormal or unusual after all. But still, it took years to share how she felt with her family. Sadly, by the time she did, her wonderful father had passed away, but fortunately for Anderson, her mother, who had always been a pillar of strength, took the news surprisingly well and by doing so showed Carol a love that money can’t buy.

Readers will find themselves identifying with the author on various levels, not just that of religion or sexual orientation. When Anderson tells us how much her father loved her and appreciated her “kindness, compassion and determination”, she speaks for every person when she states: "I want you to love me for who I really am, not for who you want me to be.” Is this not what human beings all over would want from their family, friends and associates? Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we all loved each other for who we are and not for who others want us to be? How much easier it would be to get along, communicate with and love each other. Sadly, that isn’t how human beings, conditioned by generations of religious, cultural and social teachings and expectations, interact. And hence, as Anderson rightly concludes: “Rather than listening to the voice within, people courted the voices outside of themselves, and in doing so lost touch with what most families claimed to be the most important thing: a sense of love and belonging.” You Can't Buy Love Like That: Growing Up Gay in the Sixties by Carol E. Anderson is a brilliant book that deserves your attention. Readers will be enriched by reading it.

Gisela Dixon

You Can't Buy Love Like That: Growing Up Gay in the Sixties by Carol E. Anderson is an autobiography about growing up and living as a lesbian in America. You Can't Buy Love Like That is a detailed account of Carol’s life as a child of the '60s and '70s which was the age of the sexual revolution and women’s revolution. Carol details her life in a more or less chronological order from her upbringing in a fundamentalist Christian Baptist white family, her school years and her first crush on a girl, her feelings for both boys and girls, and how she came to automatically hide and even be ashamed of her sexuality, the feminist movement of the '70s and its influences on her, and finally her coming out to her friends and later on her family, and discovering a sense of acceptance and belonging.

Carol writes the book in a candid and genuine voice. Her writing is polished, engaging, and it is obvious that it comes from a person who has learned the technical craft of writing. It is a pleasure to read a very lucid and engaging account of her life and the daily struggles and challenges of living in America as part of the LGBT community. Her struggles of the previous decades are real, but unfortunately the same can be said about the present era where, as a society, we still have a long way to go toward complete acceptance and normalization of being gay. Hopefully, a book like this that very eloquently presents this subject will enable us to eventually move toward a less judgmental perspective toward everyone. Overall, this is a great read!

Ankita Shukla

If you are anything like me, you must have wondered how much mental and emotional stress gays go through since they are considered "not normal." You Can't Buy Love Like That: Growing Up Gay in the Sixties by Carol E. Anderson is an insight into the mind of a person who went through all that. Since the day Carol Elaine discovered her inclination towards girls, her Christian beliefs started making her believe that she was committing a sin. She began dating guys only to assure herself that she was "normal." When she found herself attracted to a guy named Charlie, she was overjoyed because it created an illusion that she was straight. Although she always knew that her relationships with girls were more significant and precious to her, she was afraid to accept this truth. There was a depth in her relationships with girls. However, her strong beliefs in the society-created image of religion, God, and what's right and what's not made her pack and leave any time she felt that her bond was getting deeper with a girl.

Society has a definition of normal that may or may not be based on facts. Unknown is scary to most and when we are forced to stand and face this unknown, we tend to discard its existence or begin finding ways to change it to fit into our definition of normalcy. The attraction of people of the same sex towards each other was this sort of unknown in the sixties. Some people labeled it a sin, while others declared that it was a mental disorder which could be treated. Considering these conditions, it's not hard to imagine why Carol tried to deny her attraction towards girls. Reading her honest memoir, which is filled with various emotions and confessions, I couldn't help but cheer the author for her courage. Her life is definitely an inspiration for people who are finding the path of self-acceptance rough. After all, before finding the approval of society, one must accept themselves. I am extremely glad that I came across You Can't Buy Love Like That: Growing Up Gay in the Sixties by Carol E. Anderson.