The Dove in the Belly

Levine Querido. May 2022. 336p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781646141319.
Gr 10 Up–Grimsley has crafted an impressive crossover LGBTQIA+ historical novel. Set in the 1970s at the University of North Carolina, the story takes place during the summer after junior year; Ronny and Ben are polar opposites on the outside, but they’re in a secret relationship. English major Ronny is informed by his mother that she is getting married for the umpteenth time and he won’t be able to come back to live in her trailer during summer break. Football jock Ben, who comes from a more traditional family, is coping with his mother’s cancer. Ronny takes a room in a boarding house while Ben heads home to help with his mother’s care. Ronny eventually goes to help Ben and his family. After the passing of his mother, Ben disappears, only to emerge that fall back on campus for football season. Ronny and Ben eventually find their way back to each other. Grimsley has authentically and effortlessly painted a portrait of this time. There is scant historical LGBTQIA+ fiction for today’s readers and this helps fill that void. While triggering words and scenes are present in the novel, they’re also a necessary window to a past that cannot be overlooked.
VERDICT Highly recommended for today’s youth looking to understand the recent past and for adults seeking to see themselves represented in a time when there was little to no representation for LGBTQIA+ persons in writing.

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