A sad thing I’ve learned since No Going Back was published is just how few newspapers actually publish book reviews anymore. One reason I’m so spoiled in this regard is that my own hometown newspaper, the River Falls Journal (serving a city of about 15,000) has its own weekly book review column by Dave Wood—who also just happens to be the former book review editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and past vice president of the National Book Critics Circle. Our local library has a shelf specifically featuring books Dave has reviewed, many of which have a local or regional connection.
A few weeks ago, I gathered up my courage and gave Dave a call (you can tell it’s a small-town paper when they list the columnist’s home telephone number). He said to drop off a copy of No Going Back, dismissing my concerns that it might not be all that interesting for non-LDS readers. And this week, a positive review appeared in my local paper. (Sadly, the link to the online version that was working earlier today now takes one to a page where one must log in to see the review. Pout.)
It turns out that Dave turned it over to his wife Ruth, a retired English professor at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls (where I also taught some part-time classes a few years ago) who has taught young adult fiction. She wrote in part:
“Langford offers another sympathetic look at the difficulties homosexual teens face with peers, social life, parents, coming out and thinking about their futures. But he expands the usual perspectives….
“Langford uses multiple viewpoints — Paul’s mother, Chad, Chad’s mother and father — to help readers see that everyone’s set of personal issues complicates responding humanely to the needs of gay teens….
“Though the novel emphasizes how loving and supportive adults can help gay teens steer a clearer course through high school years, it also exposes the range of responses one will find among reasonable as well as judgmental people and encourages readers to take their cue from the better examples.”
I gave Ruth a call this afternoon, partly to catch up with what she’s doing now that she’s retired and partly to thank her for reading and reviewing No Going Back. In addition to what she’d said in the review, Ruth told me she thought it was well-written, and written in a way readers can identify with whether or not they’re LDS (which she’s not) or homosexual. She said some other complimentary things too, which I sadly can’t quote here because I’m not sure I remember them accurately, but which were good to hear nonetheless.
I don’t know that this will bring me any new book sales, though just in case, I’ve placed a couple of copies at the neighborhood drug store where they sell books by local authors. Regardless, it’s good to see evidence that No Going Back can appeal even to non-Mormon readers.